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- Call for peace between America and Britain
- The creation of the Hartford Convention
- The result of the convention
- The Treaty of Ghent
Key Facts And Information
Let’s know more about The Hartford Convention and the Treaty of Ghent!
- The Northern states were aggravated by the War of 1812 because of their dependence on maritime trade and the impact of the embargos on that trade. Thus, 26 federalists called for a meeting known as the Hartford Convention. The war ended with the Treaty of Ghent that restored the status quo antebellum.
Madison Calls for Peace
- President Madison instructed Jonathan Russell, his ambassador in London, to initiate peace talks with the British. Russell was ordered to secure a repeal of the British Orders in Council and a commitment to end impressment as part of the American terms.
- Russell conveyed the issue to Lord Castlereagh, the British Prime Minister at the time, who refused and communicated the British unwillingness to end impressment. However, Britain had already made an informal turnaround on their policy of impressment of American soldiers and eased their restriction of neutral trade before the treaty negotiation.
- In 1813, a Russian named Czar Alexander I offered to mediate between the two nations. America agreed, and Madison sent a delegation consisting of John Quincy Adams, James Bayard and Albert Gallatin. Britain, on the other hand, refused the Czar’s offer, citing that the matter was a domestic issue between the US and Britain that didn’t warrant international interference.
- However, with the allied victory at the Battle of Leipzig and the fall of Napoleon, Castlereagh offered to open direct conversation with the US towards peace. Madison then added Henry Clay and Jonathan Russell to the delegation. Britain, on the other hand, appointed admiralty lawyer William Adams, Admiral Lord Gambier and Under-Secretary of State for War and the Colonies Henry Goulburn. They served as the British delegation.
- At the time, the New England Coast was raided by the Royal Navy. This caused inflation and shortages of goods mainly in the south of Chesapeake. Plantation owners couldn’t export wheat, cotton or tobacco. Pennsylvania, New York, and the western ports achieved some degree of success during this period.
The Hartford Convention
- By 1814, the New England region perceived that they were disproportionately affected by the war. The Federalists, led by the State of Massachusetts legislature, called for a regional convention that Connecticut agreed to host in Hartford. Rhode Island agreed to send a delegation, but New Hampshire and Vermont sent representatives unofficially. This convention became known as the Hartford Convention.
- The meeting was held on 15 December 1814 with 26 delegates from five states — Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont and New Hampshire. George Cabot was elected the president of the convention.
- The delegates discarded matters concerning the states’ ability to nullify federal legislation and other issues concerning state rights. They also decided that their proceedings be kept secret because they wanted to discuss the problems faced by New England and the possible secession of the New England states from the union of the United States.
- The secrecy caused rumours and speculation from bystanders. When news of possible treason reached the federal government, a regiment of soldiers was sent to Hartford, ostensibly to recruit troops but actually to watch the movements of the convention.
- In January 1815, the group released their report, and Republicans and other Federalists were relieved to learn that the group only considered constitutional amendments that would enable America’s foreign policy to avert war with foreign countries.
- They proposed several amendments to the US Constitution that attempted to combat the policies of the Democratic-Republicans, including:
- Abolishing the ⅗ Compromise to reduce Southern power in Congress
- Requiring ⅔ of the Senate to declare war with ⅓ of the states allowed to veto a war proposal
- Placing a 60-day limit on any embargo
- Permitting presidents to serve only one term
- Requiring each president to be from a different state than his predecessor to prevent another ‘Virginia dynasty’
- However, the rumours didn’t quell and most considered the attendees of the convention as unpatriotic for hosting a session during a time of war.
- Moreover, the convention has often been cited as the first instance of states threatening secession. These events would completely taint the image of the Federalist party and cause its dissolution.
The Treaty of Ghent
- The two sides sent a delegation with the Americans going to Belgium to negotiate for peace. At first, the Americans requested the termination of the impression, while the British asked that the Americans cede land and create a Native American ‘buffer state’.
- The treaty document is known as the Treaty of Ghent and was signed on 24 December 1814. It did not mention neutral rights or matters concerning impressment, thus, further concerning Native American land. The British otherwise surrendered all claims to land in the American Northwest leading to a series of treaties for land transfer from the Natives to the US. Over the years, this enabled the US to gratify their own expansion westward.
- The two countries also agreed to abolish international slave trade and further referred any disputes between the US and Canada over boundaries to an arbitration commission.
- It took two months for the news regarding the treaty to reach everyone across the Atlantic. The British forces still maintained a campaign at the mouth of the Mississippi River.
- In January 1815, the British Army attacked New Orleans and was defeated by a force led by Andrew Jackson. The news of the treaty and the victory at the Battle of New Orleans reached Americans at around the same time, bolstering a sense of American pride.