The emergence of the two-party system in America grew out of the two factions led by Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, each of whom had very different views of the British. Hamilton wanted peace with Britain and, perhaps, to expand American power by making war on France and Spain which were also fighting Britain. Jefferson, on the other hand, sympathized with the French Revolution and wanted American solidarity with France. Anti-British sentiment also grew in the west out of conflicts between American Indians and American settlers who pointed to the British providing arms and assistance to the Indians. Meanwhile, at sea, both Britain and France attracted criticism for their efforts to interfere with American trade with the other power. In 1794 these disputes seemed to be reaching the point of crisis and John Jay was sent to England to settle matters. The resulting treaty was so unpopular in America that effigies of Hamilton were stoned in public demonstrations after Hamilton assured a British official that the U.S. would not go to war with Britain over these difficulties.
|The Franco-American "Quasi-War"|
Jefferson, however, became less pro-French after Napoleon came to rule that country and was nervous about the possibility of France renewing their presence in North America. He had backed the French effort to regain Haiti after the slave uprising there but did not want the French back on the North American mainland. He was then happily surprised when Napoleon determined the Louisiana Territory could not be held and sold the entire land mass to the United States for fear the British might take it by force. As it happened, Jefferson had opposed the French presence also out of his fear of the British, saying that if Napoleon’s legions occupied the Mississippi valley, America would have to “marry ourselves to the British fleet and nation”. The huge acquisition of territory benefited Jefferson politically and he was reelected to a second term afterwards. Tensions remained high though due to French and British efforts to stop America trading with the other. In 1807, HMS Leopard fired on an American ship and forced its surrender. Many demanded war and Jefferson ordered all British warships to leave American territorial waters. The British retaliated by increasing their patrols and tensions rose ever higher.
|British advance in the War of 1812|
Despite many claiming victory, the U.S. had been badly stung during the war. The invasion of Canada had ended in ignominious failure, Washington DC had been occupied and the White House burned to the ground. The expansionists would, in future, look to the south and west rather than the north, having no desire to cross Britain again. Likewise, the war had also been very damaging to the New England states who depended on trade and, led by the Federalist Party, these states came close to seceding from the Union before the war ended. In the aftermath though, Anglo-American relations greatly improved. Both supported the independence movements from Spain in Latin America, they cooperated to block a Franco-Spanish expedition to suppress these movements and the British Royal Navy made America’s “Monroe Doctrine” an enforceable reality.
|President James K. Polk|
The British focused on the business of empire while the Americans became increasingly bound up with internal strife over states’ rights and slavery. With the election of the first Republican Party President, Abraham Lincoln, southern states began to secede and formed their own government, the Confederate States of America, which Lincoln vowed to suppress with military force. The American Civil War erupted and the British Empire came exceedingly close to getting involved. The largely anti-slavery British public tended to favor the Union while British leaders tended to favor the Confederacy given that British industry depended heavily on southern cotton and the break up of the Union into two unfriendly countries would greatly weaken the United States which was becoming an industrial and trade rival to Great Britain. In 1861 a U.S. warship stopped the British vessel RMS Trent and forcibly removed two southern agents bound for Europe as diplomatic envoys. The British government of Lord Palmerston protested furiously, the same way America had protested similar actions by the British leading up to the War of 1812. The Canadian militia was mobilized, British reinforcements were sent to Canada and the Royal Navy was put on the alert.
|Prime Minister Lord Palmerston|
In the aftermath, Anglo-American relations remained extremely fragile. The U.S. demanded reparations from the British for the huge toll taken on their merchant fleet by British-built Confederate warships and the U.S. Army had a huge number of Irish immigrants who were spoiling for a fight with the hated British Empire. More had come over during the war and they formed their own American branches of the clandestine Irish republican groups operating in their homeland. After 1865, these men were combat veterans and they wanted to take action. These sentiments resulted in the famous “Fenian Raids” on Canada which lasted from 1866 to 1871, the most serious being the Niagara Raid of 1866 which resulted in quite a fierce struggle at the Battle of Ridgeway. The idea was for these Irish troops to seize control of some segment of Canada and hold it ransom for Irish independence from Britain. Officially, the United States opposed these actions but, because of anti-British sentiment in the north, they did not try too terribly hard to stop them. None were successful though and the U.S. was finally obliged to take action to stop any further attacks on Canada.
|HM Queen Victoria|
The two countries still found disagreements, in odd places. One was the Bering Sea, which the U.S. Congress declared American property and seized Canadian ships engaged in seal hunting. When reports came in of British warships moving to the area, the U.S. agreed to arbitration. This time the arbitrators, Italy, France and Sweden, found in favor of Britain in 1893 and ordered the U.S. to pay $473,151 in compensation for the Canadian ships. In 1898 the U.S. won a war against Spain, gaining Puerto Rico, Guam and The Philippines as well as annexing Hawaii later the same year. The British were generally favorable to America becoming at least a minor colonial power, seeing them as a potential counterweight to Germany which was quickly building up the third largest colonial empire in the world.
|German shelling of Ft San Carlos, Venezuela|
1903 saw an agreement between America and Britain over the details of the Alaska-Canadian border with the British ultimately agreeing with the American position. The outbreak of war between Russia and Japan in 1904 saw Britain and America both cheering on the Japanese. However, while Britain had an alliance with Japan, the peace settlement, arbitrated by U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt, marked a turning point. The war had been far less one-sided than the Japanese public had been led to believe and the lack of Russian reparations was blamed on the United States, prompting anti-American violence in Japan. This, naturally, caused American public opinion, which had been anti-Russian and pro-Japanese, to turn drastically anti-Japanese and this would be very significant in the future of Anglo-American relations as Japanese-American relations continued to deteriorate from that time on. Still, for the time being, relations were generally good as the Republican Party (which held uncontested power since the Civil War) felt they had a good working relationship with the British government. That, however, changed with the election of Democrat Woodrow Wilson as President of the United States in 1912.
|Anglo-American friendship, WW1|
The U.S. did have other issues to deal with, such as a volatile situation in Mexico, but the British and Anglophile Americans were relentless in their urging for America to join the First World War, portraying it as a war between the “free countries” of Britain and France against the autocratic powers of Germany, Austria and Ottoman Turkey. However, the presence of the Russian Empire among the allies put Wilson off of this idea and he left little doubt that he would never take America into a war on the same side as Czarist Russia. The British press and their Anglophile supporters put out a great deal of anti-German propaganda and made full use of the sinking of the British liner Lusitania by a German submarine in 1915. This proved a major turning point in American public opinion, something the British were only too aware of with Winston Churchill saying (privately of course) that American shipping being lost to the Germans was all to the benefit of Britain as it would push the United States closer to war. Finally, at the height of a renewed, unrestricted, submarine campaign, Germany proposed an alliance with Mexico against the United States. This was intercepted by the British who turned it over to the Americans at just the right time. There was an immediate outcry and the United States declared war on Germany in April of 1917.
Those since who have deemed President Wilson an Anglophile because of his intervention in World War I against Germany and Austria could not be more mistaken. In the buildup to the Easter Uprising in Dublin, Ireland, in 1916 the Irish republicans had collected $100,000 in donations from America and in the aftermath the New York Times, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune and The World ran front-page stories, all very anti-British in sentiment, for more than a week. In German-American communities from the Midwest to Texas, large gatherings were held raising money for the German and Austrian Red Cross right up until the outbreak of war. No, the Anglophiles had wanted American intervention immediately and it was only because Wilson was so opposed that it took until 1917 and an extremely stupid diplomatic blunder by the Germans for this to finally happen. Wilson had objected numerous times to the British blockade and future President Herbert Hoover particularly denounced it as head of the American Relief Administration which fed millions of Germans and Austrians reduced to starvation by the Royal Navy.
|Even Wilson had regrets|
To be concluded in Part II