Nootka Convention

Nootka Convention

Nootka Convention

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For other uses of the word Nootka, see Nootka .


The Nootka Conventions were a series of three agreements between the Kingdom of Spain and the Kingdom of Great Britain, signed in the 1790s which averted a war between the two empires over overlapping claims to portions of the Pacific Northwest coast of North America.

The claims of Spain dated back nearly three hundred years to the papal bull of 1494 which, along with the following Treaty of Tordesillas defined and delineated a zone of Spanish rights exclusive of Portugal. In relation to other states the agreement was legally ineffective (res inter alios acta). Spain interpreted it in the widest possible sense, deducing that it gave them full sovereignty. Other European powers did not recognize the Inter caetera, and even Spain and Portugal only adhered to it when it was useful and convenient. Britain's claims to the region were dated back to the voyage of Sir Francis Drake in 1579, and also by right of prior discovery by Captain James Cook in 1778, although the Spanish had explored and claimed the region in 1774, under Juan Pérez, and in 1775, under Bruno de Heceta and Bodega y Quadra.

The Nootka Sound dispute began in 1789 when Spain sent José Martínez to occupy Nootka Sound and establish exclusive Spanish sovereignty. During the summer of 1789 a number of fur trading vessels, British and American, arrived at Nootka. A conflict over sovereignty arose between the captain of the British Argonaut, James......
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