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Treaty of Ghent

Officially known as The Treaty of Peace and Amity between the Britannic Majesty and the United States, the Treaty of Ghent officially ended the War of 1812. It was signed in Ghent, Belgium, on December 24, 1814, and ratified by the United States Senate on February 17, 1815.

the negotiators reach an agreement
the negotiators reach an agreement

Even before the war against England had been declared, American diplomats were preparing to start peace negotiations. In preliminary meetings with British officials, they demanded a stop to the impressment of American sailors and respect for the neutral rights of the nation. However, by June of 1814, the military situation was so bad that the Americans dropped virtually all their demands. The British were also weary of the expensive and indecisive war and suggested a peace conference at the Belgian town of Ghent.

Talks began in the summer of 1814, and a treaty was signed by Christmas Eve. The American negotiators were John Quincy Adams, James A. Bayard, Henry Clay, Jonathan Russell, and Albert Gallatin. The British representatives were Sir James Gambier, Henry Goulburn, and William Adams.

Although the Treaty of Ghent ended open hostilities between the United States and Great Britain, it settled none of the disputes that caused the war. It merely restored the situation that had existed before the war. All territories taken during the war were returned to their original "owners," and all boundaries between the United States and British possessions in America were restored to their post-Revolutionary War position. The impressment of American seamen by British ships was not addressed by the treaty at all, but the practice ceased as soon as Britain helped defeat Napoleon Bonaparte in 1815. The dispute over fishing rights, the problem of payment for slaves seized by the British during the war, and the disagreement over the northwestern boundary were all worked out in later agreements.

first page of the original handwritten copy of the Treaty of Ghent
first page of the original handwritten copy of the Treaty of Ghent

SEE ALSO
John Quincy Adams
Henry Clay
Albert Gallatin
Napoleon Bonaparte

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The Robinson Library >> American History >> United States: General History and Description >> Revolution to the Civil War, 1775/1783-1861 >> Middle 19th Century, 1845-1861 >> James Madison's Administration, 1809-1817

This page was last updated on February 16, 2017.