Commander Rezanov
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§ The United States of America

Russia and the United States of America

At the time, when ships of James Cook were sailing near the seaside of the northwest of America, which had been already explored by Russian navigators, 13 English colonies rebelled against the English king, declared themselves the independent states. The present USA was formed. After the first congress the representatives of 13 colonies declared themselves independent from Great Britain. King George III approached Empress Catherine II with the request to send several detachments to suppress the rebellion which started in 13 colonies.

Mussin sent to Catherine II the text of a throne speech of King George III at the opening of parliament winter session in 1974. “With great regret, — it said -, we had to …notify you that rather dangerous spirit of resistance and disobedience to law unsuccessfully lasted in the province of Massachusetts Bay and in other places. It shows in other places via new and more severe cases of violence.” Military expenses of Great Britain per year reached an astronomical amount of 1 mln. pounds (now 7 mln. roubles) in those terms. The affair resulted in “a matured crisis”, the English people rushed to recruit people wherever possible, the citizens of His Majesty unwillingly went under the banners.

In May 1775 R. Ganning, an envoy in Petersburg, was instructed by the King, on his behalf and in vague terms to touch upon a sensitive issue for Great Britain. Catherine II had Panin N. expressed her commitment to help and assurance in friendship. Nikita Panin habitually emitted smiles. Perking Ganning laid his cards on the table: they need the detachment of twenty thousand soldiers for two years to dispatch in Canada. For every soldier the Exchequer was prepared to pay seven pounds sterling: an allowance by standards of the British Army. From London the diplomat was urged: “The increase in military forces is so desirable, that expenses are not important”. George III sent a letter written with his own hand to Empress.

Catherine II realized that her politeness had been taken seriously and backed down. She was not about to send her subjects to death in America and put her denial in diplomatic form: after the recent war the army needs rest, it is not human to separate soldiers from Motherland for a long time. Among his friends N. Panin was not smiling, but he said with indignation: “John Bull fancies that guineas would always get allies for him”, not understanding that one can’t equal “noble powers” and “petty German princes who are used to to fix the price the blood of their nationals and sell it for cash”. In her message Catherine II answered to George III the following:“It is not worthy and honorable for two great powers to join their strengths with the purpose to crush the nation which hadn’t any allies in its fair struggle for independence”.

The Americans appreciated the service done to them: “We’re greatly delighted to find out on good authority, that requests and offers of Great Britain to the Russian Empress have been rejected with contempt”, — George Washington wrote.

The War for Independence of the USA was conducted both on land and at sea. The powerful British fleet that had blockaded the coast of rebellious colonies, captured trading vessels of neutral countries, including Russian ships too, and their freights were confiscated. All this looked like a piracy. In February of 1780 Catherine published the declaration on the armed neutrality. This document, become well-known, proclaimed the right of the neutral states to trade in all goods except weapon and ammunition with the states being at war. The declaration laid as the basis of codification of the international marine law. Denmark, Prussia, Austria, Portugal, the Kingdom of both Sicilies joined it, formed the league of the armed neutrality. France and Spain have recognized its principles. In the United States of America the Continental congress welcomed it, having recognized the proclaimed rules “useful, reasonable and fair”. Great Britain should reconcile silently. Russia showed the increased authority and the leading part in business of the global importance.

Americans took Catherine’s II action for their direct support. In 1782 their representative, the lawyer from Massachusetts F. Deina arrived to St. Petersburg. The Congress instruction, which he was supplied with, expressed the desire to achieve a recognition of the Empress of the independence of the United States that testified to inexperience and even naivety of just born American diplomacy. Though the Russian government did not hurry up to establish with USA the diplomatic relations, the representative from the USA received from vice-chancellor I. A. Osterman official assurance that personally he and his countrymen “who to happen to go to Russian empire on trading or other affairs”, will meet the friendly reception and protection according to international law.

The proposal to be an intermediary in order to settle the conflict was done by St. Petersburg and Vienna but it had no success. It flattered to Catherine’s II ambition to acquire “an enviable role to mediator at current world-wide war”. However the initiative of two royal courts was unpromising from the very beginning, since the Americans insisted on a recognition of independence of all 13 states, which part of the territory in 1780 was still occupied by the British armies.

In such complex, but nevertheless favorable conditions the Russian-American relations were born. “Favorable”- because USA remembered neither Catherine’s II refusal to deliver the British crown gun meat, nor the League of the armed neutrality created by her which, according to G. Washington, undermined “the pride and force of Great Britain at seas”. And the outstanding diplomat Lee testified to the following: “The Big power of Russian empire, wisdom and a width of views of its ministers and respect which Empress enjoys, give to the royal court the greatest weight in confederation of the neutral states”. The American foreign policy was based on a fair and strong foundation.

From the moment of its foundation the Russian-American Company became an important factor of the Russian-American politics. In 1808 under Alexander I reigning the first Russian general consul, the extreme ambassador and proxy minister in USA A. Dashkov was appointed. At the same time being an honourable correspondent and a member the RAC. D. K. Adams, the later sixth American president, was appointed the first USA ambassador to St. Petersburg. From middle of XIX century the point of view on the privilege the RAC and its existence changes. The basic decision on a question of sale was accepted in 1866 at “special session” in which Alexander II and A. Gorchakov participated. After transfer of Russian America to the USA in 1867 the mutual relations of two countries continued. So, in 1871 a grand Duke Alexei Aleksandrovich visited America as the first representative of the Romanovs’ royal family.

The opinion of Russian imperial government on completely foreign to the own one a state form of the United States, was further clearly expressed to Emperor Alexander II in the dispatch to the Russian ambassador prince Gorchakov in the USA: “the American Union, -the dispatch said, — is not only an essential element of the world balance in our eyes; it represents the nation to which our most august Sovereign, with him and all Russia, have the most friendly interest, since both sides which are located on the ends of both hemispheres, both in the blossoming period of their development, seem to be devoted to a natural unity of mutual interests and sympathy which proof they have displayed.”

Documents referring to mutual relations
between Russia and USA from XVIII to the beginning of XIX century.

(all in russian)
  1. A letter of E. Styles to a member of St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences M. Lomonosov.
  2. From the letter of E. Styles to B. Franklin.
  3. From the communiqu? of G. Gross, Russian minister in London, to Catherine II
  4. A letter of B. Franklin to a member of Petersburg Academy of Sciences F. U. T. Apinus.
  5. An official report of non-commissioned lieutenant I. Senyavin for the Admiralty — board.
  6. The representation of a member of Petersburg Academy of Sciences G. Miller to Catherine’s II high-ranking court official S. M. Kozmin.
  7. From the letter of G. Adams, the American representative on the contract with England about the piece and trade, Z. Luzak.
  8. From the report of the continental Congress of the USA.
  9. The representation of N. Panin to Catherine II.
  10. The instruction of the president of the continental Congress S. Huntington to F. Daney, appointed the ambassador to Saint Petersburg.
  11. From a diary of the fleet lieutenant J. F. Lisyansky.
  12. The official document of T. Jefferson to Alexander I.
  13. Letter of F. P. Palen, appointed Russian ambassador to Washington, to N. Rumjantsev.
  14. A. Dashkov’s text of speech, addressed to the president of the USA G. Madison and to the Congress.
  15. An official document of the president of the USA G. Madison to Alexander I.
  16. From P. P. Svinin’s composition “The sight on free applied arts in the United States of America”.