The Treaty of Ghent was a peace treaty signed by United States of America and Britain. This peace treaty ended the War of 1812 which had continued in North America from 1812 to 1814.
United States started a war against Britain in 1814. This was because Britain had forced thousands of American sailors to serve in the British Royal Navy in the war against France. This angered America and thus the war began. The war continued through 1812 and 1813.
During this time, both sides won some battles and lost some but no one scored a decisive victory. By 1814, British war against France had ended and Britain had no need of using American sailors. Also, both Britain and America were tired of the huge costs of the war which had proved indecisive so far. So both sides started negotiations in August 1814.
At the start of the negotiations, both sides came up with a number of demands. This was because the war was still going on and it wasn’t clear who would win. So British demanded that Americans give up certain parts of United States.
Americans, on the other hand, wanted the British to give up parts of Canada to the USA. The negotiations continued for many months during which time, the war continued. By December, 1814, it was clear to both sides that the war would continue without any clear winner. So they decided to reach a more sensible agreement.
What was written in the treaty?
It was fairly simple. Both sides simply decided that they would agree to ‘status quo ante bellum’. In other words, they decided to go back to the way things were before the war. So Britain was to withdraw from US territories and USA was to go back from British territories. Both sides also agreed to the exchange of prisoners.
The Treaty of Ghent, as the name suggests, was signed in the city of Ghent. Ghent was a city of United Netherlands and was a neutral zone. Negotiations for the treaty began in August, 1814. And on December 24, 1814, the treaty had been finalized and was signed by both Britain and United States. It took some time for the treaty to be ratified by the UK Parliament and the US Congress. UK Parliament and Crown Prince approved it in December while the US Congress ratified the treaty on February 17, 1815.
Although the treaty had been signed in December, 1814, both the American and British armies in North America were unaware of it. So the war continued until January, 1815.
In fact, one of the most important battles of the war took place between January 8 and January 18, 1815. It was called the Battle of New Orleans and Americans clinched a decisive victory here, inflicting heavy losses on the British army. By the time this battle ended, the news of the treaty reached North America and war finally came to an end.