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The E-Sylum: Volume 18, Number 10, March 8, 2015, Article 21

THE TREATY OF GHENT MEDALS

An article by Editor Henry Nienhuis on the Treaty of Ghent medals leads off the January-February 2015 issue of The Canadian Numismatic Journal, the official publication of The Royal Canadian Numismatic Association. This issue is the first is the CNJ's new large format. Nice! With permission, here's an excerpt from the article. Many thanks to Henry for forwarding the text and images. -Editor

Treaty of Ghent medal BHM8941-obv Treaty of Ghent medal BHM841-rev

The War of 1812 had become a bloody conflict that had dragged on much longer than either the United States or Great Britain had anticipated.

Buoyed by the victory over Napoleon in March 1814 the British popular opinion turned to the war involving their North American colonies and to “giving Jonathan (the United States) a good drubbing.” Britain, looking for revenge because the United States had tried to stab her in the back (during Britain's war with France) in 1812 , had resisted the attempts by Czar Alexander I of Russia to broker peace negotiations in September 1813, despite the United States emissaries travelling to St. Petersburg. Unfortunately for Britain though, even adding thousands of Wellington’s crack troops to the fray failed to quickly end her war with the United States.

With the forced abdication of Napoleon, on April 11, the war in Europe came to an end. This meant that the Royal Navy no longer needed to enforce a blockade of American trade with France (actually, these orders had been repealed two days before the United States declared war on Britain); it also meant that Britain had no reason to continue the controversial practice of impressments of U.S. merchant marines into the Royal Navy.

the Americans dropped their demands for an end to British maritime practices and Canadian territory – ignoring their war aims – and both sides were now willing to adopt a status quo ante bellum position.

With the log jam now broken, proceedings began to move rapidly; an initial draft treaty consisting of 15 articles was tabled and debated. The British delegation agreed to nine articles, and two more were added. These final 11 articles became the Treaty of Ghent. It was officially signed on the evening of December 24, 1814.

All that stood in the way of peace now was for it to be ratified by each government. This was done by the British Parliament on December 30, 1814, and signed into law by the Prince Regent (the future King George IV.) The United States ratified the treaty some months later, in Washington, February 17, 1815.

There were two contemporary medals issued to commemorate the Treaty of Ghent. Both, struck in Britain, were originally described in Benson J. Lossing's Pictorial Field-Book of the War of 1812, published in 1869.

For more information about the Royal Canadian Numismatic Association, see:
www.rcna.ca

Wayne Homren, Editor

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