Thursday, June 05, 2008

Pinckney's Treaty - Winner, Non-Fiction, 1927

Pinckney's Treaty
By: Samuel Flagg Bemis
Johns Hopkins Press, 1926

Pinckney's Treaty. Can anyone out there tell me off the top of their head what was involved in Pinckney's Treaty? I assure you that before I read this book I had no idea. I knew the name (which is more correctly the Treaty of Friendship, Limits, and Navigation Between Spain and the United States - much more telling), but could not for the life of me remember what it was all about. Maybe something to do with the Louisiana Purchase? Well, at least I was warm.

Samuel Flagg Bemis's Pickney's Treaty gave me all and more than I ever wanted to know about the subject. Basically, after the Revolutionary War our western and southern boundaries had to be negotiated with Spain. The book is about the time between the Revolution and the signing of the treaty on October 27, 1795 (precisely 185 years before the day of my birth - that's just a little extra for you all). We spent almost twenty years going back and forth with Spain about who had rights over what land.

In the end the treaty was signed making the Mississippi River our eastern boundary and the northern border of Florida (across southern Mississippi and Alabama to New Orleans) as our southern boundary. What was really huge about this was that the Americans were finally able to navigate the Mississippi River all the way to New Orleans where they were allowed to trade. Interestingly enough, after all of the time and effort put into the treaty, 8 years later Napoleon to the Louisiana Purchase back from Spain and basically gave it to the United States. This led to a new set of problems involving new boundaries to negotiate with Spain.

The book is full of facts and would be of great use to someone specifically researching the westward expansion of the United States, United States relations with Spain, or Pinckney's treaty specifically. It seems that there was a great interest in the westward expansion of the United States in the 1920's as the History of the American Frontier won for non-fiction in 1925. It is interesting to see the trends in subjects over time.

No comments: