Border Disputes with USA The USA had declared independence from Britain in 1776 but since winning the war of independence in 1783 serious border disputes remained between the new country and British North America (aka Canada)
Ashburton-Webster Agreement This agreement settle peacefully the border dispute In Maine and New Brunswick There remained however the serious problem of OREGON – a massive if largely unoccupied territory bordered by the Rockies in the East, the Pacific in the west, Russian Alaska in the North and Mexican California in the South
The British Position Aberdeen wanted to maintain British North American (Canadian) access to the Pacific but also aimed to establish a positive and peaceful relationship with the USA. Aberdeen’s approach contrasts sharply with Palmerston’s ‘send the fleet’ mentality
President Polk Matters were brought to a head during the 1844 Presidential Election campaign in which President Polk had campaigned on the slogan ‘54 40 or fight’ – or in other words the whole of Oregon for the USA or we go to war Peel and Aberdeen favoured a border on latitude south of 49* leaving Canada access to the Pacific
Compromise with Polk A compromise was eventually negotiated with Polk of a border along 49 degrees latitude with a slight kink southwards at the coast so Canada kept Vancouver Island and access to the Pacific. Friendlier relations between USA and GB slowly began to develop from this point.
Entente with France Aberdeen was able to repair much of the damage done to relations with France by Palmerston. A royal visit to Paris by Queen Victoria and Albert took place in 1843 (the first one since Henry VIII!) and relations became more stable and friendly (2 years earlier britain and France had been close to war).