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The Federalists

The Federalists

John Baker Holroyd in The Federalists

John Baker Holroyd, the first Earl of Sheffield (1735-1821) was a member of British Parliament and one of the most influential shapers of British trade policy between 1783 and 1821. Arguing that America's naval weakness and its dependence on British markets left it unable to refuse commercial terms dictated by London, Sheffield encouraged the package of trade restrictions against American commerce embodied in the British Order in Council of July 1783. Among these restrictions, the closure of the British West Indies to American goods had the greatest effect on the American economy. These islands had provided lucrative markets for farmers and merchants from New England and the middle states.

Sheffield's policies inhibited American commercial growth in the two decades after the Revolution. But Britain's war with France and the resulting opportunities for American shippers as neutral carriers limited the impact of these policies after 1800. Sheffield's policies led to the politically controversial Jay Treaty and contributed to the maritime tension between the United States and Great Britain that culminated in the War of 1812. His death in 1821 coincided with the emergence of the more flexible British trade policies that led to the improvement of Anglo-American relations by the end of the decade.

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