Treaty of Ghent, February 7, 1815: "A Treaty of Peace and Amity between His Britannic Majesty and the United States of America."
At 11 p.m. on February 17, 1815, President James Madison signed the Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812 with Great Britain. The treaty had been signed on Christmas Eve of 1814 in Ghent, Belgium, by the British peace commission, but did not reach the United States for ratification until after the American victory at New Orleans on January 8, 1815.
The treaty was signed by Madison at the Washington home of Colonel John Tayloe, III. Known as the Octagon House, the house at 1799 New York Avenue had been occupied by the President after the British sacked Washington and burned the White House on August 24, 1814.
Negotiations for a treaty had actually begun on August 8, 1814, and continued until December 24th when both sides agreed to the treaty. During the negotiations, news of the British capture of Washington heightened British prospects for favorable terms. However, with the American victories at Baltimore (Fort McHenry) and Plattsburg, New York, the Americans were able to achieve a peace of amity, quickly settling for an agreement on the following articles (of several):
- To return all territories seized by either side (except the islands of the Northeast coast of Maine).
- To restore the Indians to their pre-war status, ending British influence.
- To set up a commission to deal with questions regarding the Canadian-American boundary.
After the signing, Commissioner Albert Gallatin stated that the war "had renewed and reinstated (our) national feelings ... the people are more American; they feel and act more like a nation..."
Peace Commissioners at the Treaty of Ghent:
NOTE: Christopher Hughes, Jr., was the Major George Armistead's brother-in-law; his sister was Louisa Armistead.
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