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Letter from Senator Alexander Martin to Representative William Loughton Smith, June 27, 1795

Senator Alexander Martin of North Carolina confided in a letter to Representative William Loughton Smith of South Carolina that the Senate was keeping the terms of the Jay Treaty confidential to prevent public reaction before it was ratified. This attempt at secrecy further inflamed public opinion against the treaty. 

Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

Letter from Senator Alexander Martin to Representative William Loughton Smith, June 27, 1795 Letter from Senator Alexander Martin to Representative William Loughton Smith, June 27, 1795 Letter from Senator Alexander Martin to Representative William Loughton Smith, June 27, 1795 Letter from Senator Alexander Martin to Representative William Loughton Smith, June 27, 1795

The Jay Treaty

In 1794 the U.S. government sent Chief Justice John Jay as envoy to Great Britain to negotiate a resolution to the growing conflicts regarding the British Navy’s seizure of U.S. ships, Americans’ debts to Britain, and Britain’s continued military presence in the northwest. The treaty Jay negotiated avoided war but delivered only a British promise to leave the northwest. The Senate narrowly approved the Jay Treaty in 1795, amidst protests that led to the nation’s first political parties—the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans.