The Treaty of Washington was a treaty signed by United States of America and the United Kingdom. It was meant to resolve a number of conflicts between the two nations. One of these was the death of many British civilians during the American Civil War even though Britain had remained neutral during the war.
Another issue was American fisherman fishing in Canadian waters which the British government in Canada considered illegal. There was also the problem of border issues between British-held Canada and USA. The Treaty of Washington resolved these issues peacefully when representatives from the British government, Canadian government and the American government came to an agreement.
The Treaty of Washington was signed by both sides on May 8, 1871.
The Treaty of Washington was agreed upon by a joint commission. A number of people represented both the United States and the United Kingdom in this commission. The US government was represented by Robert Schenck, George Henry Williams, Samuel Nelson, J.C. Bancroft Davis, Ebenezer R. Hoar and the Secretary of State, Hamilton Fish.
The United Kingdom was represented by Earl de Grey, Lord Tenterden, Sir Edward Thornton, Mountague Bernard, Sir Stafford Northcote and the Canadian Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald.
The Prime Minister of Canada represented while making use of his official title. So when the Americans accepted his inclusion in the British commission, the American government essentially admitted the official existence of the Dominion of Canada. This was the first time the Dominion of Canada received such recognition by USA.
In the treaty, the U.S. government agreed to pay $5.5 million to the British government as compensation for the illegal fishing of the American fishermen in British Canada. At the same time, the treaty gave official permission to the American fishermen to fish in Canadian waters.
Although this was agreed as part of the treaty, Canada wasn’t happy and so the Americans later had to pay them a cash payment for fishing in Canadian waters. Britain, to compensate Canada, also agreed to provide a guaranteed loan so that the Canadian government could construct the Canadian Pacific Railway. Britain also apologized to USA for providing ships to the Confederate government during the Civil War and the British government agreed to pay $15.5 million in compensation.
The Treaty of Washington proved to have many important consequences in the years after it was signed. For a start, the Canada-USA border finally became safe and free of nearly all border issues. As a result, military activity along the border was minimized and industrialization took place freely in certain areas adjoining the border.
Another important implication of the treaty was the recognition of the Dominion of Canada because the Canadian Prime Minister was one of the British delegates. The treaty was quite helpful in establishing friendly relations between USA and Canada as well as USA and Britain.