Nootka Sound

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Nootka Sound crisis, 1790–1. In May 1789 two Spanish warships entered Nootka Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island, pulled down the British flag, seized vessels, and claimed the coast up to Alaska for Spain. The subsequent crisis was not resolved until autumn 1791 and coincided with a British general election. Pitt took over conduct of the negotiations from Leeds, his foreign secretary, mobilized a fleet, and gained redress at the Convention of Madrid. Fox and the opposition routinely denounced the reparations as inadequate.

J. A. Cannon

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Nootka Sound, inlet of the Pacific Ocean and natural harbor on the west coast of Vancouver Island, SW British Columbia, Canada, lying between the mainland and Nootka Island (206 sq mi/534 sq km). The mouth of the sound was sighted (1774) by Juan Pérez, the Spanish explorer. The sound itself was visited by Capt. James Cook (1778), who was the first European to land in that region. John Meares, the British explorer, established a trading post on Nootka Sound in 1788. Its seizure by Spaniards in 1789 became the subject of a controversy between Spain and England over claims in the region. The Nootka Convention (1790) resolved the dispute and opened the N Pacific coast to British settlement.