Rush–Bagot Treaty

Rush–Bagot Treaty
Exchange of Notes Relative to Naval Forces on the American Lakes
Bronze plaque containing two human figures holding the seal of the United States and the coat of arms of the United Kingdom with a description of the treaty in between them.
Historical marker where the Rush–Bagot Agreement was made in Washington, D.C.
TypeArms control
ContextAftermath of the War of 1812
SignedApril 28 and 29, 1817
Location2425 L Street NW, Washington, D.C.
EffectiveApril 28, 1818
NegotiatorsUnited States Richard Rush
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Charles Bagot
SignatoriesUnited States James Monroe
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland George III
Parties United States
 United Kingdom
Rush-Bagot Treaty at Wikisource

The Rush–Bagot Treaty or Rush–Bagot Disarmament was a treaty between the United States and the United Kingdom limiting naval armaments on the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain, following the War of 1812. It was ratified by the United States Senate on April 16, 1818,[1] and was confirmed by Canada, following Confederation in 1867.

The treaty provided for a large demilitarization of lakes along the international boundary, where many British naval arrangements and forts remained. The treaty stipulated that the United States and British North America could each maintain one military vessel (no more than 100 tons burden) as well as one cannon (no more than eighteen pounds) on Lake Ontario and Lake Champlain. The remaining Great Lakes permitted the United States and British North America to keep two military vessels "of like burden" on the waters armed with "like force". The treaty, and the separate Treaty of 1818, laid the basis for a demilitarized boundary between the U.S. and British North America.[2]


Plaque to Richard Rush, U.S. diplomat, at Old Fort Niagara
Plaque to Charles Bagot, British diplomat, at Old Fort Niagara

The origins of the Rush–Bagot Treaty can be traced to a correspondence of letters between Acting United States Secretary of State Richard Rush and the British Minister to Washington Sir Charles Bagot, which were exchanged and signed on April 27 and 28, 1817. After the terms of the notes were agreed upon by Rush and Bagot, the Rush–Bagot Agreement was unofficially recognized by both countries. On April 6, 1818, it was submitted to the United States Senate and formally ratified on April 16, 1818. The treaty eventually led to the Treaty of Washington of 1871, which completed disarmament. The United States and Canada agreed in 1946, through an exchange of diplomatic notes, that the stationing of naval vessels for training purposes was permissible provided each government was fully notified in advance.

In 2004, the U.S. Coast Guard decided to arm 11 of its small cutters stationed on Lake Erie and Lake Huron with M240 7.62 mm machine guns. The U.S. decision was based on a climbing number of smuggling operations as well as the increased threat of terrorist activity after the September 11, 2001, attacks. The Canadian government decided that the armament did not violate the treaty, as the guns were to be used for law enforcement rather than military activities. Canada reserved the right to arm its law enforcement vessels with similar weapons.[3]

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