War of 1812 Ends

Conflict: War of 1812

Signing Treaty of Ghent

The signing of the Treaty of Ghent (artwork by A. Forestier, 1915)

On 17 February 1815, the United States Congress ratified the Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812. An agreement had already been signed by American and British diplomats in Ghent, Belgium, on 24 December of the previous year, and the British government had then ratified the treaty on 27 December. The two-month time lag between those dates and the treaty’s ratification in the U.S. was due to the time it took for travel across the Atlantic. Likewise due to travel time, final word that Congress had ratified the treaty didn’t reach England until March.

Treaty of Ghent_London Times

The London Times reports on U.S. ratification of the Treaty of Ghent

The Treaty of Ghent essentially reestablished prewar terms between the United States and Britain, with neither side gaining or losing anything of significance. The issues that had led to the war in the first place (trade restrictions, impressment of U.S. sailors into the British Navy, British support of Native American uprisings, etc.) were largely ignored by the treaty because many of the grievances had already been resolved with the end of Britain’s war with France.

Although Americans generally view the War of 1812 as a U.S. victory, many modern historians argue that the war actually ended in a stalemate since the war had become militarily inconclusive: many of the issues that triggered the war had become moot points and neither side had made any large gains in territory.

Treaty of Ghent

The Treaty of Ghent