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.
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.
John Quincy Adams
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