Peace on Christmas Eve

On this day in 1814, just in time for Christmas,The Treaty of Ghent is signed, ending the War of 1812 between the US and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The treaty recommenced relations between the two nations to status quo ante bellum, restoring the borders of the two countries to the lines before the war started in June 1812.

The war itself had been declared by the US in response to the British blockade of trade goods bound from France, the impressment of American citizens into the Royal Navy and Brit adventuring in the frontier regions of the fledgling US. “War Hawks” in Congress also urged President James Madison to make war with an eye toward territorial conquest in Canada.

Largely fighting to a stalemate, and notably losing Mackinaw Island to the Brits at the start of the conflict (no fudge at Christmas for three full years) the war brought little in the way of tangibles, but for invaluable experience gained by American fighting men on land and sea.

It took a full month for news of the peace treaty to reach the US, and in the meantime American forces under Andrew Jackson won the Battle of New Orleans on January 8, 1815; this failure to communicate would come home to roost in Jackson’s two-term presidency 13 years later.

The Treaty of Ghent was not fully in effect until it was ratified by the Senate unanimously on February 17, 1815. It indeed began two centuries of peaceful relations between the US and Britain, although there were a few tense moments such as the Trent Affair, and more recently, the elevation of an oaf to the highest office in the US.

And here, on Christmas eve, let us give thanks and good tidings to all, as the lesson endeth.

Author: Bill Urich

A tail-end baby-boomer, Bill Urich was born in Cleveland to a grade school teacher and her Navy vet husband, and reared in Greater Detroit. Working his way through school primarily at night, Mr. Urich holds a Bachelor’s in Journalism, Phi Beta Kappa, and a Juris Doctorate from Wayne State University. In his legal career he has acted as an assistant state prosecutor, city attorney, special prosecutor, mediator, magistrate, private practitioner and mayor of Royal Oak, a large home-rule city in Michigan. Mr. Urich continues in private practice and municipal prosecution, is on faculty to DePaul University, pens regular contributions to political publications, and remains active in selected campaigns and causes related to labor, social and criminal justice. A father of three mostly-grown sons, he spends his precious free time on family, friends, the pursuit of happiness, beauty and truth, three rescue cats, and fronting the rock band Calcutta Rugs from behind the drum kit.

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