Pinckney’s Treaty of 1795

October 27, 1795

Pinckney’s Treaty (1795) was an important treaty between the United States and Spain that helped ease tension between the two nations in North America. The treaty was favorable to the United States, encouraged westward migration, and expanded the nation’s economy.

Thomas Pinckney, US Ambassador to Britain

Thomas Pinckney. Image Source: New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Pinckney’s Treaty Summary

Pinckney’s Treaty — also known as the Treaty of San Lorenzo — was signed on October 27, 1795, between Thomas Pinckney and Don Manuel de Godoy. Prior to the treaty, the western and southern borders of the United States were a source of tension between Spain and the United States. The treaty resolved territorial disputes between the two countries and granted both Spanish and American merchants and farmers the right to freely navigate the Mississippi River. It also provided Americans with tax-free access to the port of New Orleans in Spanish Louisiana, which helped expand the economy of the United States. The treaty was a success for Pinckney, President George Washington, and the U.S., marked a change in Spanish policy toward the United States, and made it possible for more Americans to migrate westward.

George Washington, Portrait, Stuart
George Washington. Image Source: Wikipedia.

Pinckney’s Treaty Dates

  • Signed: Pinckney’s Treaty was signed on October 27, 1795.
  • Senate Ratification: The treaty was ratified by the Senate on March 7, 1796.
  • Effective Date: It went into effect on August 3, 1796.

Pinckney’s Treaty Facts

  1. The 1973 Neutrality Proclamation and the 1794 Jay Treaty helped preserve U.S. neutrality in international affairs with France and Britain, however, there were still unresolved issues with Spain.
  2. Spain and the United States claimed both laid claim to territory in present-day Alabama and Mississippi. Spain had posts and forts along the Mississippi River within the boundary of the United States but refused to evacuate them. The Spanish were also suppressing U.S. trade and commerce by restricting access to the port and warehouses in New Orleans.
  3. Pinckney’s Treaty is also known as the Treaty of San Lorenzo and the Treaty of Madrid, however, the official title of the treaty is the “Treaty of Friendship, Limits, and Navigation between the United States of America and the King of Spain.”
  4. The treaty was negotiated and signed by Thomas Pinckney of the United States and Don Manuel de Godoy of Spain.
  5. The provisions of the treaty were largely favorable to the United States.

Pinckney’s Treaty Provisions

  1. Pinckney’s Treaty established the border between the United States and Spanish West Florida as the 31st parallel. The negotiators agreed to have the southern border surveyed by a joint Spanish-American team. It also defined the western border between the territories.
  2. Spain allowed American merchants and farmers free access to the portion of the Mississippi River that it controlled, and the Gulf of Mexico. This allowed Americans living on the western frontier to access international markets and markets on the East Coast.
  3. The United States allowed Spanish subjects access to the portions of the Mississippi River that it controlled.
  4. Spain agreed to allow Americans access to access the port and warehouses in New Orleans for three years, at no charge. After three years, Americans would be charged minimal fees.
  5. Both sides agreed to defend and protect each other’s ships and vessels and to encourage trade across the border.
  6. They agreed not to incite Native American Indian tribes to attack each other’s settlements and forts.

Pinckney’s Treaty Frequently Asked Questions

Who negotiated Pinckney’s Treaty?

Pinckney’s Treaty was negotiated by Thomas Pinckney, the U.S. Ambassador to Britain, with Manuel de Godoy, the Prime Minister of Spain. The Treaty of San Lorenzo, as it was officially called, was signed in San Lorenzo de El Escorial in Madrid on October 27, 1795, and ratified on March 7, 1796.

What was the purpose of Pinckney’s Treaty?

The purpose of Pinckney’s Treaty was to establish friendly relations between the United States of America and Spain and to ease the tensions between the two in regard to issues in North America. The goal was to resolve territorial disputes between the two nations and allow free navigation of the Mississippi River. The treaty granted the United States access to New Orleans for trade and commerce and allowed Americans to migrate westward.

What were some issues between the United States and Spain?

Some of the issues that needed to be settled with Spain that led to the negotiation of Pinckney’s Treaty included both Spain and the U.S. claiming parts of present-day Alabama and Mississippi, the Spanish holding posts and forts along the Mississippi River within the limits of the United States and refusing to give them up, and the Spanish suppressing U.S. trade and commerce along the river and in New Orleans.

How did the Spanish suppress U.S. trade and commerce via New Orleans?

The Spanish suppressed U.S. trade and commerce via New Orleans by not allowing American farmers and merchants to use the Mississippi River to transport their goods to New Orleans, which was the gateway to the international market. The Spanish also charged high duties on American goods, which made them uncompetitive in the international market.

What were the reasons for Spain’s interest in negotiating Pinckney’s Treaty?

Spain’s interest in negotiating Pinckney’s Treaty was to maintain its hold on its North American territories and avoid a war with the United States. Spain was concerned about the United States’ growing power and its alliance with Britain, which could threaten Spanish interests in North America.

How did the Jay Treaty affect Spain’s decision to negotiate Pinckney’s Treaty?

The Jay Treaty, which was signed between the United States and Britain in 1794, resolved outstanding border disputes and enabled peaceful trade with Britain during the French Revolution. Spain had concerns the new alliance would result in the British and the Americans mounting an invasion of Spanish territory in North America. Following the successful negotiation of the Jay Treaty, Spain agreed to negotiate with the United States to resolve their differences in North America.

Pinckney’s Treaty AP US History (APUSH) Study Guide

Use the following links and videos to study Pinckney’s Treaty, the Jay Treaty, and the United States Consitution for the AP US History Exam. Also, be sure to look at our Guide to the AP US History Exam.

Pinckney’s Treaty APUSH Definition

Pinckney’s Treaty (1795) was an important treaty between the United States and Spain that eased tension between the two nations over issues in North America. It secured the frontier of the United States, encouraging westward expansion. It also provided American farmers and merchants access to the Mississippi River and New Orleans, which expanded the markets they had access to.

American History Central Resources and Related Topics

Pinckney’s Treaty and the New Republic for APUSH Video

This video from Heimler’s History covers important developments during the New Republic Era, including Pinckney’s Treaty.

Citation Information

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  • Article Title Pinckney’s Treaty of 1795
  • Date October 27, 1795
  • Author
  • Keywords Pinckney’s Treaty, Thomas Pinckney, Manifest Destiny, West Florida, Treaty of San Lorenzo
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date June 13, 2024
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update July 11, 2023

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