On today’s date in 1815, the Treaty of Peace and Amity between His Britannic Majesty and the United States of America was proclaimed, ending the War of 1812.
The two-and-a-half year conflict between the U.S. and the United Kingdom, its colonies — including former colonial Canada — and their aboriginal allies contributed greatly to Canada’s growing sense of identity and future nationhood.
In 2012, the Royal Canadian Mint (RCM) released a Proof Fine silver dollar commemorating the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. The reverse design, by Canadian artist Ardell Bourgeois, intricately depicts a British sergeant, a Canadian Voltigeur and an Iroquois warrior approaching the invaders and defending the borders and colonies they represent. With a limited mintage of only 40,000, the hand-polished coin features 200 finely struck beads encircling its design, symbolizing the war’s 200th anniversary.
While historians often debate the winners of the war — which was fought across Upper and Lower Canada, on the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean as well as in the U.S. — a senior adviser to former U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice recently claimed that “ultimately, Canada and Canadians won the War of 1812.”
Eliot Cohen, a Johns Hopkins University professor, in his book Conquered Into Liberty, said, “Not only did the colony remain intact: It had acquired heroes, British and French, and a narrative of plucky defense against foreign invasion, that helped carry it to nationhood.”
Negotiations for peace in the War of 1812 began in 1814 with both sides agreeing to meet in Europe. The treaty was signed in Ghent, Belgium on Christmas Eve, 1814, and its ratification advised by U.S. Senate on Feb. 16. The following day, former U.S. President James Madison ratified the treaty in Washington. The treaty was finally proclaimed on Feb. 18, 1815.