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Rush-Bagot Agreement Of 1817

It was perhaps inevitable that an agreement, the technical provisions of which became obsolete more than half a century ago, would from time to time be subject to technical infringements by both parties, and such cases are clearly recorded. However, we believe that it is possible to successfully maintain that, without a certain degree of tolerance, the agreement could hardly have survived until today. But it is a fact of equal importance that even though both governments were forced to deviate from strict compliance with their conditions, they feared that the spirit behind it would be preserved. I have received the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and the Department of Defense regarding your informal letter of June 9, June 26, 1939, in which the comments of the United States Secretary of State on certain questions posed by the United States Navy Department concerning the rush bagot agreement of 1817 are transmitted. Although the treaty caused difficulties during the First World War, its terms were not changed. Similar problems arose before the Second World War, but Foreign Minister Cordell Hull wanted to preserve the agreement because of its historical importance. In 1939 and 1940, Canada and the United States agreed to interpret the treaty so that weapons would be installed in the Great Lakes, but would no longer be operational until ships left the lakes. In 1942, the United States, now at war and allied with Canada, successfully proposed that weapons be fully installed and tested in the lakes by the end of the war. Following discussions in the Permanent Joint Board on Defense in 1946, Canada similarly proposed to interpret the agreement to allow the use of ships for training purposes when each country informs the other. [9] After carefully weighing the issue, Mr. Hull tends to think that an amendment to the De Rush Bagot agreement would not be desirable at this stage. A review of the documents relating to the negotiation of the agreement and its recent history shows that the objective of the negotiators was to find a solution to an immediate and urgent problem that arising from the War of 1812, and the terms of the agreement itself maintain that its permanent continuation was not foreseen.

Therefore, from a naval point of view, its provisions are long outdated, but despite many vicissances, the agreement itself has survived unchanged for more than one hundred and twenty years and has over time taken on a symbolic meaning in the eyes of our own citizens and Canadian citizens. . . .

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