The Relationship of the United States With the United Kingdom

Vintage US and Union Jack Flags
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The relationship between the United States of America and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (U.K.) goes back almost two hundred years before the United States declared independence from Great Britain. Although several European powers explored and formed settlements in North America, the British soon controlled the most lucrative seaports on the east coast. These thirteen British colonies were the seedlings of what would become the United States. The English language, legal theory, and lifestyle were the starting point of what became a diverse, multi-ethnic, American culture.

Special Relationship

The term "special relationship" is used by Americans and Brits to describe the uniquely close connection between the United States and the United Kingdom.

Milestones in the United States-United Kingdom Relationship

The United States and the United Kingdom fought each other in the American Revolution and again in the War of 1812. During the Civil War, the British were thought to have sympathies for the South, but this did not lead to a military conflict. In World War I, the U.S. and the U.K. fought together, and in World War II the United States entered the European portion of the conflict to defend the United Kingdom and other European allies. The two countries were also strong allies during the Cold War and the first Gulf War. The United Kingdom was the only top world power to support the United States in the Iraq War.


The American-British relationship has been marked by close friendships and working alliances between top leaders. These include the links between Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Franklin Roosevelt, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and President Ronald Reagan, and Prime Minister Tony Blair and President George Bush.


The United States and the United Kingdom share enormous trade and economic relations. Each country is among the other's top trading partners. On the diplomatic front, both are among the founders of the United Nations, NATO, World Trade Organization, G-7, and a host of other international bodies. The U.S. and U.K. remain as two of only five members of the United Nations Security Council with permanent seats and veto power over all council actions. As such, the diplomatic, economic, and military bureaucracies of each country are in constant discussion and coordination with their counterparts in the other country.

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Porter, Keith. "The Relationship of the United States With the United Kingdom." ThoughtCo, Jul. 31, 2021, Porter, Keith. (2021, July 31). The Relationship of the United States With the United Kingdom. Retrieved from Porter, Keith. "The Relationship of the United States With the United Kingdom." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 24, 2023).