WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2014: Two hundred years ago, with the strokes of pens in the Flemish city of Ghent, diplomats from the United States and the United Kingdom ended the War of 1812. However, don’t be surprised if this Christmas Eve bicentennial is all but forgotten in America—for several reasons. Not only does the anniversary fall at a time when most Americans are focused on Christmas—but the war itself dragged on for months after the Treaty of Ghent.
Plus, the biggest anniversary related to the War of 1812 already has come and gone—the bicentennial of our national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner. Dr. Wayne Baker’s OurValues series reported extensively on that anniversary, first, with this look at the importance of “symbolic patriotism” in America and then later with a five-part series about the song’s bicentennial celebration.
How did the war actually end? It was messy in an era of far-flung global conflict and methods of communication that crawled at a snail’s pace.
The entire Battle of New Orleans, which made General Andrew Jackson a national hero and propelled him into the White House, took place in early January 1815. Later, on February 16, 1815, the U.S. Senate unanimously ratified the treaty signed in Ghent.
If you live near New Orleans, a huge January 8-to-10 public commemoration of that battle will unfold, according to the Times-Picayune. Of course, other parts of the U.S. have their own claims on Jackson, and the Hermitage in Tennessee has a special exhibit related to the War of 1812.
The last US-UK battle was the capture of the HMS Penguin in March, 1815—and, in May 1815, an Indian force that had allied itself with the British fought the Battle of the Sink Hole with U.S. forces. That’s the last conflict historians list in the War of 1812.
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ReadTheSpirit magazine reports regularly on issues of war and peace. Over the past year, we have published many stories about Abraham Lincoln and the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Our writers also have reported extensively on inspiring memories from the First World War, which unfolded 100 years ago. You’ll find stories about peacemakers grappling with the tragedy of WWI in our Interfaith Peacemakers department.