The Treaty of Ghent was signed, on 24th December, 1814 by representatives of United States and United Kingdom at Ghent, in United Netherlands, present day Belgium. The treaty re- established relations between the two countries to status quo ante bellum. It is a Latin phrase, which means the state existing before the war. This phrase meant, withdrawal of enemy troops along with re - establishment of leadership as it was before the war. Hence, neither of the nations loses or gains territory and economic and political rights. So according to the treaty, whatever territory was conquered, were returned and commissions were drafted to settle the boundary of Canada and the United States.
In June 1812, war was declared by the United States against Great Britain in reaction to three issues. Firstly, the British economic blockage of France. Secondly the impressment of thousands of neutral American seamen into the British Royal Navy against their will. Thirdly, the British support of hostile Indian tribes along the Great Lakes frontier. A part of the United States Congress, which consist mainly of congressmen from the South and the West, had been recommending the declaration of war for many years. These men are called War Hawks. They were a number of young and outspoken members, who were enemies of the United Kingdom and supported the expansion by the United States. These men were part of the Twelfth Congress that met from 1811 to 1813. These War Hawks were the new Speaker of the House, Henry Clay of Kentucky. They wanted a war against United Kingdom and made Canada the target for expansion. They knew that United Kingdom would be preoccupied with its struggle against Napoleonic France, when the United States would declare war against them. This would result in territorial gains of the United States in Canada and Florida, which is protected by the United Kingdom. After the United States declared war, they launched a three – point invasion of Canada, all of which were driven back by the force. The United States was more successful at the sea. The USS Constitution and other American frigates won a series of victories over British warships. In 1813, American forces won several key victories in the Great Lakes region. But the United Kingdom regained control of the sea and blockaded the Eastern seaboard.
The United Kingdom were able to allocate more military resources to the American war, due to the downfall of Napoleon Bonaparte in the year 1814. After months of negotiations, against the background of changing military victories, losses and defeats, both United States and United Kingdom realized that their country wanted peace and there was no reason to continue the war. Both the nations were tired of the war. Export trade was hampered. After the defeat of Napoleon in 1814, France was no longer an enemy of United Kingdom. Hence, the Royal Navy was no more needed to stop shipments of the United States to France and did not require any more seamen. The United Kingdom was busy with rebuilding Europe, after the final defeat of Napoleon. Lord Liverpool told negotiators of the United Kingdom to offer a status quo, which the government of the United Kingdom had desired since the beginning of the war. This was immediately offered by the diplomats of the United Kingdom to the diplomats of the United States. The diplomats of the United States dropped demands for an end to the maritime practices of the United kingdom and the territory of Canada. Both would exchange prisoners , and the United Kingdom would return or pay for the slaves captured from the United States.
In the month of August, the Washington , D.C., fell in the hands of the British. The army of the United Kingdom, burned the White House, the Capitol and other important monuments in revenge of the attack of the military men by the United States in burning of government buildings in Canada. After that the army of the United Kingdom retreated. Fort McHenry in Baltimore harbor withstood a massive British bombardment and inspired Francis Scott Key to compose the National Anthem of the United States, called the Star – Spangled Banner. On 11th September, 1819, the tide of war turned when an American naval force under Thomas Macdonough won a decisive victory at the Battle of Plattsburg in New York on Lake Champlain. The large army of the United Kingdom, led by Sir George Prevost was thus forced to abandon its invasion in the north - east of the United States and returned defeated to Canada. The victory of the army of the United States on Lake Champlain led to the end of the peace negotiations of the United Kingdom and United States, in Belgium. Then on December 24th , 1814, the Treaty of Ghent was signed, which ended the war. The Treaty did not say anything about the important issues, which stared the war. The important issues were the rights of neutral vessels of the United States and the impressment of the sailors of the United States. But this treaty opened up the region of Great Lakes to the expansion of the United States. This treaty was hailed as a diplomatic victory in the United States. News of the Treaty reached very late. It took nearly two months to get across the Atlantic. The army of the United Kingdom, were not informed of the treaty and the end of the hostilities on time. The army was positioned at the mouth of the Mississippi River. The large army of the United Kingdom attacked New Orleans on 8th January, 1815. The army of the United Kingdom was defeated by an inferior army of the United States, led by General Andrew Jackson. The victory was the most spectacular victory of the War of the United States. The people of the United States heard the news of Treaty of Ghent and Battle of New Orleans at the same time. This fostered a greater sentiment of self – confidence and shared identity throughout the young republic.
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