James Madison Papers
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From James Madison to the Senate, 15 February 1815

To the Senate

February 15th 1815

I have received from the American Commissioners, a Treaty of Peace and Amity, between His Britannic Majesty and the United States of America, signed by those Commissioners, and by the Commissioners of His Britannic Majesty, at Ghent on the 24th of December 1814. The termination of hostilities depends upon the time of the ratification of the Treaty by both parties. I lose no time, therefore, in submitting the Treaty to the Senate, for their advice and approbation.1

I transmit also a letter from the American Commissioners which accompanied the Treaty.2

James Madison

RC, Tr, and enclosures (DNA: RG 46, Executive Proceedings, President’s Messages, 13B–B1). RC in Edward Coles’s hand, signed by JM. For enclosures (printed in ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States … (38 vols.; Washington, 1832–61). description ends , Foreign Relations, 3:732–33, 745–48), see nn.

1Filed with the RC is a nineteen-page copy of the Treaty of Ghent, written in three clerks’ hands, which may be the copy that JM enclosed (for the text of the treaty, see JM’s Presidential Proclamation, 18 Feb. 1815). The first article stated that all territory taken by either party during the war should be returned, with the exception of certain islands in Passamaquoddy Bay whose possession would be determined later. In addition, all captured paper records and correspondence were to be returned to their owners, to the extent possible. The second article provided for the restoration of ships taken after the ratification of the treaty, and the third for the restoration of prisoners of war. The fourth through eighth articles established boards of commissioners to determine the exact locations of several boundary lines between the United States and Canada, defined in the 1783 Treaty of Paris but never authoritatively marked; the territory in dispute as a result of this uncertainty included the above-mentioned islands in Passamaquoddy Bay and some in the Great Lakes, as well as the region surrounding the Nova Scotia boundary. The ninth article stipulated that immediately after ratification, both countries would make peace with their Indian enemies (provided the Indians were amenable), and restore all territory held and privileges enjoyed by the Indians in 1811. The slave trade was the subject of the tenth article, which declared that both countries would work to abolish it completely. The eleventh and final article specified that ratifications should be exchanged in Washington within four months. The treaty did not address the issue of impressment.

2The enclosed letter to James Monroe from John Quincy Adams, James A. Bayard, Henry Clay, Jonathan Russell, and Albert Gallatin, dated 25 Dec. 1814 (7 pp.), noted that they were also sending copies of documents fully recording their negotiations since their letter to Monroe of 31 Oct. 1814 (for the letter, see JM to Congress, 1 Dec. 1814, n. 1), but that they nevertheless wished to mention the following points: that they had “made a formal declaration” that the treaty’s silence on impressment and indemnities for British captures of American property before the war did not constitute a relinquishment of the right to pursue such issues by either party; that they had assented to British possession of the Passamaquoddy Bay islands pending a decision by the boundary commissioners only because the negotiations would otherwise have failed; that they had persuaded the British commissioners to refrain from mentioning either the American right to the use of the Canadian fisheries or the British right to navigate the Mississippi River, on the grounds that both rights were established by the 1783 Treaty of Paris; and, finally, that though they were “not authorized to subscribe to it,” they had reluctantly agreed to the British ultimatum embodied in the ninth article, requiring that hostilities not be pursued against former Indian enemies.

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