The Treaty of Ghent), signed on December 24, 1814, was the peace treaty that ended the War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain. The treaty restored relations between the two nations to status quo before the war — that is, it restored the borders of the two countries to the line before the war started in June 1812. The Treaty was approved by the Prince Regent (the future King George IV). It took a month for news of the peace treaty to reach the United States. American forces under Andrew Jackson won the Battle of New Orleans on January 8, 1815. The Treaty of Ghent was not in effect until it was ratified by the U.S. Senate unanimously on February 18, 1815.
The peace discussions began in the neutral city of Ghent in August 1814. As the peace talks opened American diplomats decided not to present President Madison’s demands for the end of impressment and suggestion that Britain turn Canada over to the U.S. They let the British open with their demands, chief of which was the creation of an Indian barrier state in the American Northwest Territory (the area from Ohio to Wisconsin). It was understood the British would sponsor this Indian state. The British strategy for decades had been to create a buffer state to block American expansion. The Americans refused to consider a buffer state and the proposal was dropped. Article IX of the treaty included provisions to restore to Natives “all possessions, rights and privileges which they may have enjoyed, or been entitled to in 1811”, but the provisions were unenforceable and in any case Britain ended its practice of supporting or encouraging tribes living in American territory.
After months of negotiations, against the background of changing military victories, defeats and losses, the parties finally realized that their nations wanted peace and there was no real reason to continue the war. Now each side was tired of the war. Export trade was all but paralyzed and after Napoleon fell in 1814 France was no longer an enemy of Britain, so the Royal Navy no longer needed to stop American shipments to France, and it no longer needed more seamen so impressment was not an issue.
Consequently, none of the issues that had caused the war or that had become critical to the conflict were included in the treaty.
The treaty thus made no significant changes to the pre-war boundaries, although the U.S. did gain territory from Spain. Britain promised to return the freed black slaves that they had taken. In actuality, a few years later Britain instead paid the United States $1,204,960 for them. Both nations also promised to work towards an ending of the international slave trade.
Canadian author, Pierre Berton wrote of the treaty, “It was as if no war had been fought, or to put it more bluntly, as if the war that was fought was fought for no good reason. For nothing has changed; everything is as it was in the beginning save for the graves of those who, it now appears, have fought for a trifle:…Lake Erie and Fort McHenry will go into the American history books, Queenston Heights and Crysler’s Farm into the Canadian, but without the gore, the stench, the disease, the terror, the conniving, and the imbecilities that march with every army.”
The Peace Bridge between Buffalo, New York, and Fort Erie, Ontario, opened in 1927 to commemorate more than a century of peace between the United States and Canada.
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The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behaviour.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, we blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 3 is “C,” and so on. Please visit other challenge writers.
My theme is ‘The War of 1812’, a military conflict, lasting for two-and-a-half years, fought by the United States of America against the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, its North American colonies, and its American Indian allies. The Memoirs of a British naval officer from the war is central to my novel “Seeking A Knife” – part of the Snowdon Shadows series.
Further reading on The War of 1812: