The United States of America declared its independence from the United Kingdom of Great Britain on July 4, 1776. However, the American Revolutionary War continued until the British General Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington on October 19, 1781. Aside from a break in relations over the War of 1812, and strains over the possibility of British recognition of the Confederacy during the Civil War, the United States and the United Kingdom have enjoyed generally cordial and consistent relations since American independence.
Modern Flag of The United Kingdom
The United Kingdom officially recognized American independence by signing the Treaty of Paris of 1783. David Hartley, a Member of Parliament representing British King George III, signed the treaty along with the American delegation of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and John Jay on September 3, 1783.
President John Adams appointed Harry Grant as the first U.S. Consul to Scotland on July 14, 1798 in Leith. The U.S. Consulate crossed into Edinburgh in 1854, but it moved back to Leith in 1861. The Consulate finally settled back in Edinburgh in 1883, where it remains today.
Diplomatic relations and the American Legation in London were established on June 1, 1785, when John Adams presented his credentials as Minister Plenipotentiary to King George III. Adams, however, became so frustrated with the cool reception that he closed the legation in 1788 and the post remained vacant for four years.
The first British envoy to the United States was George Hammond who became Minister to the United States of America on July 5, 1791.
The United States broke relations with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland when it declared war against its former colonial ruler on June 18, 1812, although Chargé d’Affaires Jonathan Russell did not close the legation until July 29, 1812.
Future President John Quincy Adams, son of John Adams, was appointed Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary, to the United Kingdom on February 28, 1815, and presented his credentials in London on August 8, 1815.
The U.S. legation in London became the U.S. Embassy in London when Ambassador Thomas Bayard presented his credentials to the Court of St. James on June 22, 1893.