Dakota Datebook

Treaty of Ghent

Monday, December 24, 2007

The War of 1812 produced a string of both American military disasters and victories. Yet two years into the conflict, there was still no clear victor between Great Britain and the United States. As a result, by 1814 both sides agreed to discuss peace terms at a meeting in Belgium.
The original provocations for war, including naval blockades and impressments were set aside as the American peace commission focused on territorial security as their principal concern. The two powers proceeded to draw up a peace agreement that called for an end to hostilities, the return of conquered territory and prisoners and an ambiguous arrangement for payment of destroyed property. Most importantly, the treaty included a call for the creation of committees to examine boundary disputes that had plagued the United States and British North America since the end of the Revolutionary War.
The United States and Great Britain signed the peace agreement, the Treaty of Ghent, on this day, December 24, 1814, officially ending the War of 1812.
As a result of the peace treaty, several commissions met in the decades following the War of 1812 to settle various disputes along the U.S. border with British North America.
At the Convention of 1818, the U.S. minister to Britain, Richard Rush, met with British authorities to address the issue of the western boundary between British North America and the United States. Three major decisions were reached. First, Oregon Territory, the region west of the Rocky Mountains would be jointly occupied by the US and Great Britain for another ten years. Second, US citizens were granted fishing rights in the waters of Newfoundland and Labrador. Third, the Convention of 1818 stipulated that the international boundary run from the crest of the Rocky Mountains eastward to the Lake of the Woods on the border between present-day Minnesota and Canada, at the 49ΒΌ north latitude.
So what did this mean for North Dakota? The southwestern region of present-day North Dakota, drained by the Missouri River, became a part of the United States with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. The northeastern region, drained by the Red River and Souris River, remained part of British possessions. The Convention of 1818 capped the Louisiana Purchase territory at the 49th parallel and united under the flag of the United States for the first time the entire region of present-day North Dakota.
Written by Christina Sunwall

International Boundary Commission- http://www.internationalboundarycommission.org/treaties.htm
National Peace Essay Contest- http://www.usip.org/ed/npec/winningessays/97winner.html
US Department of State- http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/time/jd/91716.htm
US History.Com- http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h254.html
Wayne, Brand L. and James G. Hector, ed., North Dakota Decision Makers (Fargo, ND: Analytical Statistics, Inc., 1972)

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Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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