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Ghent, Treaty of

GHENT, TREATY OF

GHENT, TREATY OF. The Treaty of Ghent, ratified by the United States on 17 February 1815, marked the official end of the War of 1812 between the United States and Britain. The war was precipitated by a number of issues that were raised during the American Revolution but left unresolved at that conflict's end. Many of them, such as the precise boundary between British Canada and the United States, the failure of the British to remove all its troops from U. S. soil, and the status of Britain's former


Native American allies, lingered and contributed to renewed hostilities between the Americans and the British in 1812. However, on 26 June 1812, shortly after the hostilities commenced, the American government made preliminary overtures for peace. On 21 September, the Russian chancellor offered to serve as a mediator between the two warring parties. The United States presented a peace proposal through the Russians, but the British government in March 1813 quickly rejected it. However, within a few months of that failure, the British, at that point deeply committed to fighting Napoleon's army on the European continent, offered through their foreign secretary, Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, to enter into direct negotiations with the United States. This offer was accepted on 15 January 1814, and negotiations began in earnest between the two parties in Ghent, Belgium.

Issues regarding the impressment of American seamen, the status of the British-allied Indian groups, and the U. S. northern boundary with British Canada proved difficult to resolve. In the midst of these negotiations, on 27 September 1814, news reached London that the British had captured and burned Washington, D. C. Buoyed by this news, the British proposed that each party should retain its existing holdings. However, that British demand was totally abandoned when news of an American victory on Lake Champlain near British Canada reached London on 24 October. A temporary deadlock ensued.

But larger forces were at work for peace. The continental situation grew increasingly complex and dangerous as the British waged their battle against Napoleon's army. Additionally, fighting a war in two separate hemispheres strained British finances, while the Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, warned that unless the British could secure the Great Lakes, a decisive victory over the Americans was implausible. Under the weight of these considerations, the British agreed to restore the status quo that had existed between the parties prior to these recent hostilities.

Additional concessions from the United States and Great Britain were also forthcoming. The United States abandoned not only its demands regarding impressment but also demands for indemnification for commercial losses incurred as a result of the war between France and Britain. For its part, Britain agreed to respect American rights in the Newfoundland fisheries and to abandon its demand for a permanent boundary between the United States and the Indian nations. However, the Americans did agree to an immediate cessation of hostilities against these nations after war's end and the restoration of all the possessions and privileges they had enjoyed prior to the war. Both parties also agreed to employ their best efforts to abolish the slave trade. The remaining major issue, the U. S. –British Canadian boundary, remained unresolved, and the parties agreed to turn the issue over to a boundary commission that resolved the dispute in 1822.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Adams, Henry. History of the United States. 4 vols. New York: Boni, 1930.

Johnson, Paul. A History of the American People. New York: Harper Collins, 1998.

Faren R.Siminoff

See alsoWar of 1812 .

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Ghent, Treaty of

Treaty of Ghent, 1814, agreement ending the War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain. It was signed at Ghent, Belgium, on Dec. 24, 1814, and ratified by the U.S. Senate in Feb., 1815. The American commissioners were John Q. Adams, James A. Bayard, Henry Clay, Jonathan Russell, and Albert Gallatin. Negotiations were begun in August, with the recent defeat of Napoleon I giving the British an advantage reinforced by the burning of the Capitol at Washington shortly afterward. Only the victory of Thomas Macdonough at Plattsburgh and the threat of further hostilities in Europe induced the British to give up their demands to control the Great Lakes and erect a Native American state under British control in the country NW of the Ohio River. Thus the agreement to restore territory and places taken by either party was a diplomatic victory for the United States. It was provided that commissions would be set up to determine the boundary from the St. Croix River west to Lake of the Woods. Both parties were to use their best endeavors to abolish the slave trade. No mention was made of the fisheries question, the impressment of American seamen, or the rights of neutral commerce.

See F. L. Engelman, The Peace of Christmas Eve (1962).

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Ghent, treaty of

Ghent, treaty of, 1815. Peace talks to end the War of 1812 between Britain and the USA began at Ghent (modern Belgium) in August 1814. A treaty was signed on 24 December and ratified the following year. It resolved none of the proclaimed causes of the war. Neutral rights, an American grievance, ceased to be controversial as war had ended in Europe, while disputed boundaries were referred to arbitration. Because of slow communications, a major battle was fought after the conclusion of the treaty, at New Orleans in January 1815.

Ged Martin

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"Ghent, treaty of." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Ghent, Treaty of

Ghent, Treaty of (1814) Agreement ending the War of 1812 between Britain and the USA. It appointed a commission to settle the dispute about the USA-Canada boundary.

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