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CANADA and the UNITED STATES, 1814-46 (1 of 7)

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Canada and the United States, 1814-46

Britain, Canada and Tensions with the United States | Migrations and North-South Economic Differences to 1840 | Slavery Issues in the U.S. and Canada | Jackson and the Cherokee | the Nat Turner Rebellion | The Maine and Aroostook Border Dispute | Rebellion and Reforms in Canada to 1846

Britain, Canada and Tensions with the United States

North of the United States was British North America, divided into colonies as had been the United States. There was Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Lower Canada. And there was Upper Canada. Together they had a population about one-eighteenth that of the United States.

Following the War of 1812, tensions remained between the United States and Britain. A naval arms race developed in the Great Lakes region, and incidents occurred on the lakes as the British exercised what they believed was their right to search U.S. ships. In 1817 the U.S. War Department sent two expeditions to the south shore of Lake Superior to remove British flags and to establish U.S. influence in what was essentially Indian country. But there was to be no war. The War of 1812 was the last of what could be called a war that involved the border between the United States and its northern neighbor.

Hostility toward Britain remained among those in the United States who chose to remember recent conflicts, and Britain's upper classes remained hostile toward the United States. But the British and the United States would be able to resolve their conflicts. Britain accepted the revolution that had transformed its colonies into the United States. Expansion westward from Canada or the US was possible without expanding against each other. And men in shipping and commerce in the United States disliked the idea of war. They knew that it would shut down commerce, and they disliked the idea of losing ships to the British.

The United States had high tariffs against British imports, which began in 1816, inspired in part by the desire to deprive Britain of one of its largest export markets as well as to protect American manufacturers and farmers from foreign competition. But enough political leaders in the US saw it in their nation's interest to establish accords with Britain, and in 1818 the US and Britain produced the Rush-Bagot Agreement for disarmament on the Great Lakes. Each power was to have no more than four warships on the Great Lakes, none of which was to exceed 100 tons.

In 1820, Methodist ministers who had migrated to Canada (there were almost 6,000 Methodists in Upper Canada) tried to get help from the US to rid them of competition from Wesleyan ministers from Britain, the British Wesleyans numbering around 750. But the US government was not interested in intervening in this conflict.

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