Westward Expansion and the War of 1812, 1803-1820

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Author: The U.S. and British Governments  | Date: 1815

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The Treaty of Ghent, Concluding the War of 1812

The American commissioners were John Quincy Adams, whose accompanying report (see the following document) of the negotiations appears in his "Memoirs"; Albert Gallatin, Henry Clay, James A. Bayard and Jonathan Russell. The British representatives were Lord Gambier, Henry Goulburn and William Adams.

The Treaty, mainly the handiwork of Gallatin, failed to mention the impressment of American seamen, the chief cause of the war, or the Newfoundland fishery claims recognized in the Treaty of 1783; or the question as to naval forces on the Great Lakes, or the rights of neutrals. All these were subjects of much subsequent negotiation.

HIS Britannic Majesty and the United States of America, desirous of terminating the war which has unhappily subsisted between the two countries, and of restoring, upon principles of perfect reciprocity, peace, friendship and good understanding between them, have, for that purpose, appointed their respective Plenipotentiaries, that is to say:

His Britannic Majesty, on his part, has appointed the Right Honorable James Lord Gambier, late Admiral of the White, now Admiral of the Red Squadron of His Majesty’s fleet, Henry Goulburn, Esquire, a member of the Imperial Parliament, and Under Secretary of State, and William Adams, Esquire, Doctor of Civil Laws; and the President of the United States, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate thereof, has appointed John Quincy Adams, James A. Bayard, Henry Clay, Jonathan Russell, and Albert Gallatin, citizens of the United States;

Who, after a reciprocal communication of their respective full powers, have agreed upon the following articles:

Article I.

There shall be a firm and universal peace between His Britannic Majesty and the United States, and between their respective countries, territories, cities, towns and people, of every degree, without exception of places and persons. All hostilities, both by sea and land, shall cease as soon as this treaty shall have been ratified by both parties, as hereinafter mentioned. All territory, places and possessions whatsoever, taken by either party from the other during the war, or which may be taken after the signing of this treaty, excepting only the islands hereinafter mentioned, shall be restored without delay, and without causing any destruction or carrying away any of the artillery or other public property originally captured in the said forts or places, and which shall remain therein upon the exchange of the ratifications of this treaty, or any slaves or other private property. And all archives, records, deeds and papers, either of a public nature or belonging to private persons, which, in the course of the war, may have fallen into the hands of the officers of either party, shall be, as far as may be practicable, forthwith restored and delivered to the proper authorities and persons to whom they respectively belong. Such of the islands in the Bay of Passamaquoddy as are claimed by both parties, shall remain in the possession of the party in whose occupation they may be at the time of the exchange of the ratifications of this treaty, until the decision respecting the title to the said islands shall have been made in conformity with the fourth article of this treaty. No disposition made by this treaty as to such possession of the islands and territories claimed by both parties shall, in any manner whatever, be construed to affect the right of either.

Article II.

Immediately after the ratifications of this treaty by both parties, as hereinafter mentioned, orders shall be sent to the armies, squadrons, officers, subjects and citizens of the two Powers to cease from all hostilities. And to prevent all causes of complaint which might arise on account of the prizes which may be taken at sea after the said ratifications of this treaty, it is reciprocally agreed that all vessels and effects which may be taken after the space of twelve days from the said ratifications, upon all parts of the coast of North America, from the latitude of twenty-three degrees north to the latitude of fifty degrees north, and as far eastward in the Atlantic Ocean as the thirty-sixth degree of west longitude from the meridian of Greenwich, shall be restored on each side: that the time shall be thirty days in all other parts of the Atlantic Ocean north of the equinoctial line or equator, and the same time for the British and Irish Channels, for the Gulf of Mexico, and all parts of the West Indies; forty days for the North Seas, for the Baltic, and for all parts of the Mediterranean; sixty days for the Atlantic Ocean south of the equator, as far as the latitude of the Cape of Good Hope; ninety days for every other part of the world south of the equator; and one hundred and twenty days for all other parts of the world, without exception.

Article III.

All prisoners of war taken on either side, as well by land as by sea, shall be restored as soon as practicable after the ratifications of this treaty, as hereinafter mentioned, on their paying the debts which they have contracted during their captivity. The two contracting parties respectively engage to discharge, in specie, the advances which may have been made by the other for the sustenance and maintenance of such prisoners.

Article IV.

Whereas it was stipulated by the second article in the treaty of peace of one thousand seven hundred and eighty-three, between His Britannic Majesty and the United States of America, that the boundary of the United States should comprehend all islands within twenty leagues of any part of the shores of the United States, and lying between lines to be drawn due east from the points where the aforesaid boundaries, between Nova Scotia on the one part, and East Florida on the other, shall respectively touch the Bay of Fundy and the Atlantic Ocean, excepting such islands as now are, or heretofore have been, within the limits of Nova Scotia; and whereas the several islands in the Bay of Passamaquoddy, which is part of the Bay of Fundy, and the Island of Grand Menan, in the said Bay of Fundy, are claimed by the United States as being comprehended within their aforesaid boundaries, which said islands are claimed as belonging to His Britannic Majesty, as having been, at the time of and previous to the aforesaid treaty of one thousand seven hundred and eighty-three, within the limits of the Province of Nova Scotia; In order therefore, finally to decide upon these claims, it is agreed that they shall be referred to two Commissioners to be appointed in the following manner, viz: One Commissioner shall be appointed by His Britannic Majesty, and one by the President of the United States, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate thereof; and the said two Commissioners so appointed shall be sworn impartially to examine and decide upon the said claims according to such evidence as shall be laid before them on the part of His Britannic Majesty and of the United States respectively. The said Commissioners shall meet at St. Andrews, in the Province of New Brunswick, and shall have power to adjourn to such other place or places as they shall think fit. The said Commissioners shall, by a declaration or report under their hands and seals, decide to which of the two contracting parties the several islands aforesaid do respectively belong, in conformity with the true intent of the said treaty of peace of one thousand seven hundred and eighty-three. And if the said Commissioners shall agree in their decision, both parties shall consider such decision as final and conclusive. It is further agreed that, in event of the two Commissioners differing upon all or any of the matters so referred to them, or in the event of both or either of the said Commissioners refusing, or declining, or willfully omitting to act as such, they shall make, jointly or separately, a report or reports, as well to the Government of His Britannic Majesty as to that of the United States, stating in detail the points on which they differ, and the grounds upon which their respective opinions have been formed, or the grounds upon which they, or either of them, have so refused, declined, or omitted to act. And His Britannic Majesty and the Government of the United States hereby agree to refer the report or reports of the said Commissioners to some friendly sovereign or State, to be then named for that purpose, and who shall be requested to decide on the differences which may be stated in the said report or reports, or upon the report of one Commissioner, together with the grounds upon which the other Commissioner shall have refused, declined or omitted to act, as the case may be. And if the Commissioner so refusing, declining or omitting to act, shall also willfully omit to state the grounds upon which he has so done, in such manner that the said statement may be referred to such friendly sovereign or State, together with the report of such other Commissioner, then such sovereign or State shall decide ex parte upon the said report alone. And His Britannic Majesty and the Government of the United States engage to consider the decision of such friendly sovereign or State to be final and conclusive on all the matters so referred.

Article V.

Whereas neither that point of the highlands lying due north from the source of the River St. Croix, and designated in the former treaty of peace between the two Powers as the northwest angle of Nova Scotia, nor the northwesternmost head of Connecticut River, has yet been ascertained; and whereas that part of the boundary line between the dominions of the two Powers which extends from the source of the River St. Croix directly north to the above-mentioned northwest angle of Nova Scotia, thence along the said highlands which divide those rivers that empty themselves into the river St. Lawrence from those which fall into the Atlantic Ocean to the northwesternmost head of Connecticut River, thence down along the middle of that river to the forty-fifth degree of north latitude; thence by a line due west on said latitude until it strikes the river Iroquois or Cataraquy [St. Lawrence], has not yet been surveyed: it is agreed that for these several purposes two Commissioners shall be appointed,…[etc. as in Article IV].

Article VI.

Whereas by the former treaty of peace that portion of the boundary of the United States from the point where the forty-fifth degree of north latitude strikes the river Iroquois or Cataraquy to the Lake Superior, was declared to be "along the middle of said river into Lake Ontario, through the middle of said lake, until it strikes the communication by water between that lake and Lake Erie, thence along the middle of said communication into Lake Erie, through the middle of said lake until it arrives at the water communication into the Lake Huron, thence through the middle of said lake to the water communication between that lake and Lake Superior;" and whereas doubts have arisen what was the middle of the said river lakes and water communications, and whether certain islands lying in the same were within the dominions of His Britannic Majesty or of the United States: In order, therefore, finally to decide these doubts, they shall be referred to two Commissioners, to be appointed, . . . [etc. as in Article IV].

Article VII.

It is further agreed that the said two last-mentioned Commissioners, after they shall have executed the duties assigned to them in the preceding article, shall be, and they are hereby, authorized upon their oaths impartially to fix and determine, according to the true intent of the said treaty of peace of one thousand seven hundred and eighty-three, that part of the boundary between the dominions of the two Powers which extends from the water communication between Lake Huron and Lake Superior, to the most northwestern point of the Lake of the Woods, to decide to which of the two parties the several islands lying in the lakes, water communications and rivers, forming the said boundary, do respectively belong, in conformity with the true intent of the said treaty of peace of one thousand seven hundred and eighty-three; and to cause such parts of the said boundary as require it to be surveyed and marked, . . . [etc. as in Article IV].

Article VIII.

[Stipulations regarding the expenses, proceedings, etc., of the commissions; and for the validity of land grants made by either party in territory adjudged to the other.]

Article IX.

The United States of America engage to put an end, immediately after the ratification of the present treaty, to hostilities with all the tribes or nations of Indians with whom they may be at war at the time of such ratification; and forthwith to restore to such tribes or nations, respectively, all the possessions, rights and privileges which they may have enjoyed or been entitled to in one thousand eight hundred and eleven, previous to such hostilities: Provided always that such tribes or nations shall agree to desist from all hostilities against the United States of America, their citizens and subjects, upon the ratification of the present treaty being notified to such tribes or nations, and shall so desist accordingly. And His Britannic Majesty engages, on his part, to put an end immediately after the ratification of the present treaty, to hostilities with all the tribes or nations of Indians with whom he may be at war at the time of such ratification, and forthwith to restore to such tribes or nations respectively all the possessions, rights and privileges which they may have enjoyed or been entitled to in one thousand eight hundred and eleven, previous to such hostilities: Provided always that such tribes or nations shall agree to desist from all hostilities against His Britannic Majesty, and his subjects, upon the ratification of the present treaty being notified to such tribes or nations, and shall so desist accordingly.

Article X.

Whereas the traffic in slaves is irreconcilable with the principles of humanity and justice, and whereas both His Majesty and the United States are desirous of continuing their efforts to promote its entire abolition, it is hereby agreed that both the contracting parties shall use their best endeavors to accomplish so desirable an object.

Article XI.

This treaty, when the same shall have been ratified on both sides, without alteration by either of the contracting parties, and the ratifications mutually exchanged, shall be binding on both parties, and the ratifications shall be exchanged at Washington, in the space of four months from this day, or sooner if practicable.

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Chicago: The U.S. and British Governments, "The Treaty of Ghent, Concluding the War of 1812," Westward Expansion and the War of 1812, 1803-1820 in America, Vol.5, Pp.252-262 Original Sources, accessed December 10, 2019, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=7JPSUDBM3BW183B.

MLA: The U.S. and British Governments. "The Treaty of Ghent, Concluding the War of 1812." Westward Expansion and the War of 1812, 1803-1820, in America, Vol.5, Pp.252-262, Original Sources. 10 Dec. 2019. originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=7JPSUDBM3BW183B.

Harvard: The U.S. and British Governments, 'The Treaty of Ghent, Concluding the War of 1812' in Westward Expansion and the War of 1812, 1803-1820. cited in , America, Vol.5, Pp.252-262. Original Sources, retrieved 10 December 2019, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=7JPSUDBM3BW183B.