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Treaty of 1818
Convention respecting fisheries, boundary, and the restoration of slaves
United States territorial border changes
Type Bilateral treaty
Context Territorial cession
Signed October 20, 1818
Location London, United Kingdom
Effective January 30, 1819

 United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland

 United States
Languages English
Treaty of 1818 at Wikisource

The Convention respecting fisheries, boundary and the restoration of slaves between the United States of America and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, also known as the London Convention, Anglo-American Convention of 1818, Convention of 1818, or simply the Treaty of 1818, was an international treaty signed in 1818 between the above parties. Signed during the presidency of James Monroe, it resolved standing boundary issues between the two nations. The treaty allowed for joint occupation and settlement of the Oregon Country, known to the British and in Canadian history as the Columbia District of the Hudson's Bay Company, and including the southern portion of its sister district New Caledonia.

The two nations agreed to a boundary line involving the 49th parallel north, in part because a straight-line boundary would be easier to survey than the pre-existing boundaries based on watersheds. The treaty marked both the United Kingdom's last permanent major loss of territory in what is now the Continental United States and the United States' only permanent significant cession of North American territory to a foreign power. Britain ceded all of Rupert's Land south of the 49th parallel and east of the Continental Divide, including all of the Red River Colony south of that latitude, while the United States ceded the northernmost edge of the Missouri Territory north of the 49th parallel.

Treaty provisions

The treaty name is variously cited as "Convention respecting fisheries, boundary, and the restoration of slaves",[1] "Convention of Commerce (Fisheries, Boundary and the Restoration of Slaves)",[2] and "Convention of Commerce between His Majesty and the United States of America".[3][4]

  • Article I secured fishing rights along Newfoundland and Labrador for the U.S.
  • Article II set the boundary between British North America and the United States along "a line drawn from the most northwestern point of the Lake of the Woods, [due south, then] along the 49th parallel of north latitude..." to the "Stony Mountains"[3] (now known as the Rocky Mountains). Britain ceded the part of Rupert's Land and Red River Colony south of the 49th parallel (including the Red River Basin — which now forms parts of Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota — as well as a small piece of modern-day Montana near Triple Divide Peak). The United States ceded the small portion of the Louisiana Purchase that lay north of the 49th parallel (namely, parts of the Milk River, Poplar River, and Big Muddy Creek watersheds in modern-day Alberta and Saskatchewan).
    • This article settled a boundary dispute caused by ignorance of actual geography in the boundary agreed to in the 1783 Treaty of Paris that ended the American Revolutionary War. That earlier treaty had placed the boundary between the United States and British possessions to the north along a line going westward from the Lake of the Woods to the Mississippi River. The parties had failed to realize that the river did not extend that far north, so such a line would never meet the river. In fixing this problem, the 1818 treaty inadvertently created an exclave of the United States, the Northwest Angle, which is the small section of the present state of Minnesota that is the only part of the United States outside Alaska north of the 49th parallel.
  • Article III provided for joint control of land in the Oregon Country for ten years. Both could claim land and both were guaranteed free navigation throughout.
  • Article IV confirmed the Anglo-American Convention of 1815,[5] which regulated commerce between the two parties, for an additional ten years.
  • Article V agreed to refer differences over a U.S. claim arising from the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812, to "some Friendly Sovereign or State to be named for that purpose." The U.S. claim was for return of, or compensation for, slaves that were in British territory or on British naval vessels when the treaty was signed. The Treaty of Ghent article in question was about handing over property, and the U.S. claimed that these slaves were the property of U.S. citizens.[3]
  • Article VI established that ratification would occur within at most six months of signing the treaty.


Albert Gallatin (1848 photograph)

The treaty was negotiated for the U.S. by Albert Gallatin, ambassador to France, and Richard Rush, minister to the UK; and for the UK by Frederick John Robinson, Treasurer of the Royal Navy and member of the privy council, and Henry Goulburn, an undersecretary of state.[4] The treaty was signed on October 20, 1818. Ratifications were exchanged on January 30, 1819.[1] The Convention of 1818, along with the Rush–Bagot Treaty of 1817, marked the beginning of improved relations between the British Empire and its former colonies, and paved the way for more positive relations between the U.S. and Canada, notwithstanding that repelling U.S. invasion was a defence priority in Canada until 1928.[6]

Despite the relatively friendly nature of the agreement, it nevertheless resulted in a fierce struggle for control of the Oregon Country in the following two decades. The British-chartered Hudson's Bay Company, having previously established a trading network centered on Fort Vancouver on the lower Columbia River, with other forts in what is now eastern Washington and Idaho as well as on the Oregon Coast and in Puget Sound, undertook a harsh campaign to restrict encroachment by U.S. fur traders to the area. By the 1830s, with pressure in the U.S. mounting to annex the region outright, the company undertook a deliberate policy to exterminate all fur-bearing animals from the Oregon Country, in order to both maximize its remaining profit and to delay the arrival of U.S. mountain men and settlers. The policy of discouraging settlement was undercut to some degree by the actions of John McLoughlin, Chief Factor of the Hudson's Bay Company at Fort Vancouver, who regularly provided relief and welcome to U.S. immigrants who had arrived at the post over the Oregon Trail.[citation needed]

By the middle 1840s, the tide of U.S. immigration, as well as a U.S. political movement to claim the entire territory, led to a renegotiation of the agreement. The Oregon Treaty in 1846 permanently established the 49th parallel as the boundary between the United States and British North America to the Pacific Ocean.[citation needed]

See also

  • Adams–Onís Treaty of 1819, between the U.S. and Spain, resolved borders from Florida to the Pacific Ocean.
  • The Webster–Ashburton Treaty of 1842 resolved uncertainties left by the 1818 treaty, including the Northwest Angle problem, which had been created by the use of a faulty map.
  • Oregon boundary dispute, concerning the joint occupation of the Oregon Country by U.S. and British settlers.
  • Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which established most of the southern border between the US and Mexico after the defeat and occupation of Mexico in 1848, ending the Mexican–American War.
  • The Gadsden Purchase, which completed the acquisition of the southwestern United States and completed the border between Mexico and the US in 1853 at the 32nd parallel and the Rio Grande.


  1. 1.0 1.1 United States Department of State (2007-11-01) (PDF). Treaties In Force: A List of Treaties and Other International Agreements of the United States in Force on November 1, 2007. Section 1: Bilateral Treaties. Compiled by the Treaty Affairs Staff, Office of the Legal Adviser, U.S. Department of State. (2007 ed.). Washington, DC. pp. 320. Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  2. Lauterpacht, Elihu, et al., ed. (2004). "Consolidated Table of Treaties, Volumes 1-125". In Elihu Lauterpacht. International Law Reports:. Cambridge University Press. pp. 8. ISBN 0-521-80779-4. Retrieved 2006-03-27. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 LexUM (2000). "Convention of Commerce between His Majesty and the United States of America.--Signed at London, 20th October, 1818". Canado-American Treaties. University of Montreal. Archived from the original on April 11, 2009. Retrieved 2006-03-27. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 LexUM (1999). "CUS 1818/15 Subject: Commerce". Canado-American Treaties. University of Montreal. Archived from the original on March 25, 2009. Retrieved 2006-03-27. 
  5. Article on "The Convention of 1815", The Marine Journal, June 3, 1922
  6. Preston, Richard A. The Defence of the Undefended Border: Planning for War in North America 1867–1939, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1977

External links

  • Wikisource-logo.svg "Fisheries Question" Encyclopedia Americana 1920  This article traces British-United States negotiations regarding ocean fisheries from 1783 to 1910.

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