Post Civil War & Conclusion

In the latter part of the 19th Century, US-Canadian relations were generally cordial. Britain's reluctance to cease trade with the Confederacy during the Civil War did cause some problems.

The Alabama Claims
The CSS Alabama was a British-built warship used by the Confederacy. The United States claimed that British construction of the ship, and its mooring in British harbors violated Britain's neutrality. Other additional issues regarding British cooperation with Confederate interests  were also raised. Initially, Congress wanted to ask for $2 billion, or the cession of Canada as reparation for Britain's violation of neutrality during the Civil War. Ultimately, the Treaty of Washington (1871), which settled several US-Canadian conflicts, awarded $15 million to the United States.

The Fenian Raids
The Fenian Raids were small-scale attacks by the American branch of the Fenian Brotherhood, an Irish Republican organization, on British targets within Canada between 1866 and 1871. There were five major raids on British forts and customs posts. The raids were intended to put pressure on the British to withdraw from Ireland. The raids occurred while the Alabama Claims were still being settled, leading to the belief that many in the US Government turned a blind eye to the Fenians' actions. The majority of the Fenian combatants were former Union and Confederate soldiers.

Eventually, old grievances between Americans and Canadians, and Americans and the British, for that matter, had largely disappeared. The US-Canadian border had been settled, eliminating the frequent territorial conflicts that plagued the 19th Century.

Today, Canada and the United States have one of the strongest international friendships in the world. Canada and the United States are allies in NATO, or North American Treaty Organization. The two countries share the world’s longest border and are important trading partners. 

As can clearly be seen from all the information on this page, most American-Canadian relations were actually American-British relations. Canadians had yet to find their own identity and independence. Canada’s independence from Britain on July 1st, 1867, when it became a dominion in the British Empire, allowed time for a Canadian identity to grow and flourish. By the time World War I began, the Canadians developed into a unique country quite distinct from Britain.

Amicable relations between the two countries primarily began after the United States and Canada fought on the same side of both World War I and World War II. Since then, Canada has followed the United States into almost every major global conflict, including the Korean War, the Gulf War, the Kosovo War, and the war in Afghanistan.

Canada and the United States are not just close military allies, however; t
hey are close trading partners as well. In 1987, the Canadian—American Free Trade Agreement was passed, removing essentially all tariffs on imported goods between the two countries.

The friendship between the United States and Canada is one of the most indispensable international alliances in the entire world and must be valued.

“Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners. And necessity has made us allies. Those whom nature hath so joined together, let no man put asunder."               –President John F. Kennedy

Further Reading
Alabama Claims

Fenian Raids

Modern US-Canadian Relations


"Canada." U.S. Department of State. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 June 2011. <>.

Riendeau, Roger E. A Brief History of Canada. New York: Facts On File, 2000. Print.

Gough, Barry M. Canada. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1975. Print.

Manning, J. F. Geneva Award, Arguement to the Committees on the Judiciary of the Senate and House of Representatives of the Congress of the United States, on Behalf of the Owners of Vessels and Cargoes, Officers and Seamen, and Prayers of Increased Insurance. Worceser: Printed by G.D. Morse &, 1878. Google Books. Web.

Senior, Hereward. The Last Invasion of Canada: the Fenian Raids, 1866-1870. Toronto: Dundurn in Collaboration with Canadian War Museum, Canadian Museum of Civilization, 1991. Google Books. Web.