On today’s date in 1815, the Treaty of Peace and Amity was proclaimed by Great Britain and the U.S. to officially end the War of 1812.
The two-and-a-half-year conflict was fought across Upper Canada (present-day Ontario) and Lower Canada (present-day Québec), on the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean as well as in the U.S. Its main belligerents were the U.S. on one side and Britain on the other, complete with its colonies (including those in present-day Canada) and their aboriginal allies. The war contributed greatly to Canada’s growing sense of identity and future nationhood.
“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,” reads the treaty, which was concluded at Ghent, Belgium, on Christmas Eve, 1814.
It was ratified by U.S. President James Madison on Feb. 17, 1815, and proclaimed the following day.
While historians often debate the winners of the war, a senior adviser to former U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice once said, “Ultimately, Canada and Canadians won the War of 1812.”
“Not only did the colony remain intact,” wrote Eliot Cohen, a Johns Hopkins University professor, in his book Conquered Into Liberty. “It had acquired heroes, British and French, and a narrative of plucky defense against foreign invasion, that helped carry it to nationhood.”
2012 SILVER DOLLAR
In 2012, the Royal Canadian Mint issued a silver dollar commemorating the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.
The reverse design by Canadian artist Ardell Bourgeois depicts a British sergeant, a Canadian Voltigeur and an Iroquois warrior approaching U.S. invaders to defend the borders and colonies they represent. With a mintage of 40,000, the coin features 200 finely struck beads encircling its design to symbolize the war’s 200th anniversary.