The treaty was, literally, in the mail.
That was the reason U.S. and British forces (including Canadian-based troops) were still fighting – including the fabled Battle of New Orleans of story and song – at the beginning of 1815.
It was a fact commented on at a small celebration at the Peace Arch Friday that marked the 200th anniversary of the actual end of hostilities in the War of 1812.
Some 50 spectators heard that as soon as the Treaty of Ghent reached the U.S. by ship, it was ratified by Congress and signed by President James Madison on Feb. 17, 1815.
Organized by Christina Alexander and the United States Canada Peace Anniversary Association, the event drew U.S. Consul General Lynne Platt, Canadian Consul General James Hill, British Consul Robin Twyman and Ronald Masnik, honorary consul general of Belgium – where the Treaty of Ghent was negotiated and signed.
Also on hand for the celebration were the 10th White Rock Scouts colour guard, and representatives of the Washington-based Society of 1812 and the Daughters of 1812, while Alexander sang the Peace Arch Anthem, Children of a Common Mother.
In describing the war as a “conflict that was an unfortunate outgrowth of the Napoleonic wars,” Platt noted the late end of the hostilities.
“In the days before Instagram, news didn’t get around so fast,” she said.
She also noted the U.S. had over-confidently underestimated Canada in the conflict, a fact that was brought home with clarity when Canadian-based soldiers marched on Washington and burned down the White House.
Platt recalled heroic figures that emerged on both sides, including Isaac Brock and Laura Secord for Canada, and Andrew Jackson and Tecumseh for the U.S.
And she quoted Canadian historian Pierre Berton’s comment that as soon as hostilities ceased, “it was as if no war had been fought, or, if it was, it had been fought for no reason.”
Hill said that “since the dust-up 200 years ago, things have gone remarkably well…(we’re) the strongest of commercial trading partners, with co-operation of all kinds, and in the military sphere as well.”
Following Friday’s event, Alexander said she was pleased with the co-operation she had received from all the consulates.
While the turnout was relatively small, she had been pleasantly surprised by the hundreds who attended a Christmas Eve celebration to mark the actual date of the treaty.