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Pinckney Treaty Signed 228 Years Ago, Granting U.S. Access to Navigate Mississippi River

Pinckney’s Treaty, formally known as the Treaty of San Lorenzo, was a significant diplomatic agreement signed on Oct. 27, 1795, between the U.S. and Spain. It was negotiated by American diplomat Thomas Pinckney and Spanish envoy Manuel de Godoy, the Prime Minister of Spain, in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain.

Key provisions of Pinckney’s Treaty included:

  • Border clarification.
  • The free navigation of the Mississippi River.
  • Granting American merchants the right to store goods in the Port of New Orleans temporarily.
  • Improving diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Spain.

The treaty established the southern boundary of the U.S. along the 31st parallel, from the Mississippi River to the Appalachian Mountains. This helped to clarify and define the border between Spanish Florida and the U.S. Additionally, Spain agreed to allow American citizens the right to navigate the entire length of the Mississippi River and the right to deposit goods at the port of New Orleans for transfer to ocean-going vessels.

The treaty granted American merchants the right to use the port of New Orleans to temporarily store goods for export. American goods also could be transported on the Mississippi River through Spanish territory without being subjected to Spanish taxes or duties. Overall, the treaty aimed to improve diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Spain, which had been tense due to border disputes and issues related to trade and navigation.

The treaty was significant for the young U.S., particularly those living in the western frontier, as it provided crucial access to the Mississippi River and the vital port of New Orleans for trade and commerce. It also helped to solidify peaceful relations between the U.S. and Spain, reducing tensions and potential conflicts in the American Southwest and Southeast.

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