War of 1812: Negotiations for Peace

The Fort McHenry setback and the American victory at Plattsburgh helped to persuade British statesmen to agree to end the war, in which no decisive gains had been made by either side. For some time negotiations for peace had been taking place. Although Great Britain had refused an early Russian offer to mediate between it and the United States, the British entered into direct peace negotiations at Ghent in mid-1814. The American delegation to the meeting at Ghent was headed by John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, and Albert Gallatin. After long and tortuous discussions, a treaty (see Ghent, Treaty of) was signed (Dec. 24, 1814), providing for the cessation of hostilities, the restoration of conquered territories, and the setting up of boundary commissions.

The final action of the war took place after the signing of the treaty, when Andrew Jackson decisively defeated the British at New Orleans on Jan. 8, 1815. This victory, although it came after the technical end of the war, was important in restoring American confidence. Although the peace treaty failed to deal with the matters of neutral rights and impressment that were the ostensible cause of the conflict, the war did quicken the growth of American nationalism. In addition, the defeats suffered by the Native Americans in the Northwest and in the South forced them to sign treaties with the U.S. government and opened their lands for American expansion.

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