Background and International Relations with the United States
The United States of America declared its independence from the United Kingdom of Great Britain on July 4, 1776. However, the American Revolutionary War continued until the British General Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington on October 19, 1781. Aside from a break in relations over the War of 1812, and strains over the possibility of British recognition of the Confederacy during the Civil War, the United States and the United Kingdom have enjoyed generally cordial and consistent relations since American independence.
Diplomatic Recognition: United Kingdom
Recognition and Establishment of Diplomatic Relations with the United States
British Recognition of U.S. Independence, 1783.
The United Kingdom officially recognized American independence by signing the Treaty of Paris of 1783. David Hartley, a Member of Parliament representing British King George III, signed the treaty along with the American delegation of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and John Jay on September 3, 1783.
Establishment of Diplomatic Missions and Consular Posts
Note: in relation to this issue and the united kingdom, see the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963. Regarding consular relations with the United States:
Consulates in Scotland.
President John Adams appointed Harry Grant as the first U.S. Consul to Scotland on July 14, 1798 in Leith. The U.S. Consulate crossed into Edinburgh in 1854, but it moved back to Leith in 1861. The Consulate finally settled back in Edinburgh in 1883, where it remains today.
Consulates in Wales.
Milford Haven (1862-1907)
Consulates in Northern Ireland.
The United States opened the consulate in Belfast in 1796.
Consulates in England.
Isle of Wight (1790-1866)
Kingston upon Hull (1796-1842)
St. Helen’s (1865-1916)
Old Hartlepool and West Hartlepool (1866 to ?, then 1899-1919 to just West Hartlepool)
Ramsgate, Margate and Deal (1870-?)
Stoke on Trent (1911-1929)
United Kingdom: Establishment and Conduct of Diplomatic Relations
In this issue, related to united kingdom, see the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, adopted on 18 April 1961. The country established diplomatic relations with the United States. More details as follows: Establishment of Diplomatic Relations and the American Legation in London, 1785.
Diplomatic relations and the American Legation in London were established on June 1, 1785, when John Adams presented his credentials as Minister Plenipotentiary to King George III. Adams, however, became so frustrated with the cool reception that he closed the legation in 1788 and the post remained vacant for four years.
Establishment of the British Legation in the U.S., 1791.
The first British envoy to the United States was George Hammond who became Minister to the United States of America on July 5, 1791.
Interruption of Relations, 1812.
The United States broke relations with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland when it declared war against its former colonial ruler on June 18, 1812, although Chargé d’Affaires Jonathan Russell did not close the legation until July 29, 1812.
Re-establishment of Relations, 1815.
Future President John Quincy Adams, son of John Adams, was appointed Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary, to the United Kingdom on February 28, 1815, and presented his credentials in London on August 8, 1815.
Elevation of Legation to Embassy, 1893.
The U.S. legation in London became the U.S. Embassy in London when Ambassador Thomas Bayard presented his credentials to the Court of St. James on June 22, 1893.
United Kingdom: Main Treaties and International Agreements
Relevant International Instruments
- Information on united kingdom international relations in the Encyclopedia of U.S. Foreign Relations, Bruce W. Jentleson and Thomas G. Paterson, Council on Foreign Relations, Infobase Learning, New York, 2016