Sir Charles Bagot

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Rush‐Bagot Agreement (1817).After the War of 1812, an Anglo‐American arms race threatened the peace. Fearing U.S. encroachments, Canada stationed warships on the Great Lakes and demanded that Great Britain follow suit. America responded with its own vessels. Britain preferred, however, to focus its naval energies on the high seas, while America—confident that it could construct ships quickly if crisis loomed—wished to avoid an expensive naval race. A mutual disarmament treaty therefore appealed to both nations. In notes exchanged between British minister Charles Bagot and Acting Secretary of State Richard Rush, America and Britain pledged to maintain no more than one ship each on Lakes Champlain and Ontario, and only two on the remaining Great Lakes. This accord neither completely nor immediately disarmed the lakes, nor did it address land forces; but it did constitute the first qualitative disarmament treaty in history. No more warships were introduced, the Anglo‐American “era of good feelings” continued, and tensions eased along the border. Responding to war threats in 1940, both Canada and the United States modified Rush‐Bagot to permit naval construction and training.


Edgar W. Mcinnis , The Unguarded Frontier: A History of American‐Canadian Relations, 1942.
Bradford Perkins , Castlereagh and Adams: England and the United States, 1812–1823, 1964.
Kenneth Bourne , Britain and the Balance of Power in North America, 1815–1980, 1967.

Thomas W. Zeiler