The War of 1812: The Treaty of Ghent

The War of 1812 began on June 18, 1812, and ended two and a half years later in February of 1815. This conflict was between the United States and Great Britain, over the British’s defiance of the United States maritime rights. The question is, what led to this horrendous, most pivotal war? To begin, there were commercial restrictions that the war between Britain and France (French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars) inflicted on the United States inflamed the U.S.’s relations with both Britain and France.

Initially, neither Britain or France accepted the neutral rights with the United States to trade with the other, and in retaliation, punished the United States ships. Along with the control of pro-French politicians in the United States. The principle held by a few Americans that the British were staggering among Native Americans on the frontier set the way for war. United States Congress then declared war in 1812.

The war was conducted in four places, The Great Lakes and the Canadian frontier, At sea, around the Atlantic Ocean and the American east coast, and lastly the southern states and southwestern territories.

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The United States was not quite prepared to prosecute a war. President Madison assumed that the state militias would simply seize Canada, and soon after negotiations would follow. Unfortunately, President Madison was wrong and that, however, did not happen. During this time, the United States army had fewer than 12,000 men. Soon after, Congress authorized an expansion of the army that was voluntary and unpopular, due to lack of pay and few experienced and trained soldiers.

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The British Empire had 48,000 soldiers engaged, while the United States only had 35,000 soldiers. The war ended with the United States has 2,200 battle casualties, and the British Empire had 1,600 battle casualties (

During the war, both Britain and the United States suffered many losses. For example, in 1814 the White House was burned down, also known as the Burning of Washington. The British troops entered Washington, D.C., and set fire to the White House in retaliation for the American attack on the city of York in Canada. One of the biggest naval engagements of the war was the Battle of Lake Erie. The United States navy used nine vessels and captured six British vessels. This battle was the development of success to the control of Detroit and enabled Americans to win the Battle of Thames. Another important battle was the Battle of New Orleans, which was one of the most significant engagements that prevented the British from seizing New Orleans, and another land through the Louisiana purchase agreement. The hostility continued because there was not any knowledge of the Treaty of Ghent. Although the treaty was signed it was not ratified by the United States. Lastly, the Battle of Baltimore and the British siege of Fort McHenry, and is also known as the larger part of the war of 1812. The British more equipped advanced to attack Baltimore, a port city that the British believed was the base of many American privateers who were spying on their ships. Baltimore residents declared a firm stance against the British by capturing their merchant ships and transporting cargoes to foreign parts. The battle ended in the successful defense of Baltimore and a reconditioning of American pride, which was much needed after the burning of the White House. The battle of Baltimore Harbor inspired the writer of the “Star-Spangled Banner” to write it, and it eventually would be the national anthem of the U.S.

By 1814, both Britain and the United States had achieved their war goals or grew dreary of the costly war with little but stalemate, so they both sent delegations to Ghent, Flanders, which is now a part of Belgium. A final agreement was signed, but both sides had to ratify it before it could take place. While this was taking place, both sides were planning new invasions. The new invasions began with the British blockading the United States, and had the federal treasury to long delays for paying bills, therefore forcing them to rely on only loans for the rest of the war. The American economy was put into chaos with unexpected shortages and prices skyrocketing, also known as secession. This led to widespread fears that the New England States would attempt to leave the Union. This rumor was exaggerated, as New Englanders did not want to leave the Union and wished to end the war to end the economic hardships. Although American privateers had chances of success reduced, with most of the British merchantmen sailing in convoy. Privateering continuously proved alarming to the British shown by high insurance rates. British landowners grew drained of high taxes, so merchants called on the government to reopen trade with the United States by ending the war.

The Treaty of Ghent was the peace treaty that ended the war of 1812. There were many negotiations and peace “talks” that opened the idea of the treaty. Peace discussions began in the city of Ghent, hence the name. During these negotiations, the British had four planned attacks, one being the burning of Washington. After months of negotiations, the two realized they only wanted peace, and there really was not a real reason to continue the war, each side grew exhausted of the war. The treaty reinstated relations between the United States and Great Britain to the status quo antebellum, replacing the borders of the two countries to the lines before the war began. The treaty was accepted by the British Parliament and signed by Prince Regent into law. It took close to a month for the news of the peace treaty to make its way to the United States. The treaty was not in full effect until it was ratified by the United States Senate. Although Britain and the United States were not able to guard major concessions through the Treaty of Ghent, it still had important consequences for the future of North America. The retreat of the British soldiers from the Northwest Territory, plus the loss of the Creeks in the South opened the door for complete United States expansionism in both of the regions. The treaty established ways that would help future border disputes between Canada and the United States. Possibly, one reason the two countries have been able to share the longest unmodified border with peace in the world. Peace “talk” began in 1814 between Britain and the United States. The Treaty of Ghent was signed on December 14, 1814, and established the status quo antebellum. This meant that neither Britain or the United States lost any territory in the war. The war officially ended on February 17, 1815, when the United States Congress exchanged ratifications of the treaty. Therefore, there was not any definitive victory.

Updated: May 19, 2021
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The War of 1812: The Treaty of Ghent essay
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