A brief history of hating treaties

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tags: Iran, Obama, treaties

The preliminary agreement announced today over Iran’s nuclear program drew quick and blistering criticism from Republicans, alleging that the U.S. gave everything up without accomplishing its goals.

History will judge whether this agreement — if successfully finalized — was a success or failure. But history also tells us that plenty of U.S. treaties and accords have been met with firestorms of criticism and controversy. Here’s a quick, non-comprehensive sampling:

— 1796 “Jay Treaty” between U.S. and Great Britain: Critics objected to this treaty for forging closer ties with England, which had fought the colonies in the extremely recent past, and for giving up too much and obtaining too little. Southerners in particular were incensed that it obtained compensation for (largely Northern-owned) American shipping confiscated, but not southern slaves taken by the British during the Revolution. (Indeed, 19th Century historian and great-grandson of treaty supporter John Adams Henry Adams called it a “bad” treaty and said “There has been no time since 1810 when the United States would not prefer war to peace on such terms,” while modern historian Joseph Ellis said it was “one-sided in Britain’s favor” though a strategic good move on America’s part.)

Though George Washington’s prestige helped get this treaty confirmed, chief negotiator John Jay — the chief justice of the Supreme Court! — was particularly vilified. One newspaper editor wrote: “John Jay, ah! the arch traitor – seize him, drown him, burn him, flay him alive.” Jay “joked he could travel by night all the way from Boston to Philadelphia just by the light of his burning effigies.” While he was joking about the extent, he really was hanged in effigy.  Jay actually was hanged in effigy...

Read entire article at St. Paul Pioneer Press

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