Study Guide

Treaty of Ghent Timeline

By John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, J.A. Bayard, Jonathan Russell, Albert Gallatin, Henry Goulburn, William Adams, James Gambier

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Roanoke Colony

Queen Elizabeth I sends Sir Walter Raleigh to North America to establish a British Colony. It's an epic fail.


Jamestown Colony

A second attempt at colonization was more successful, growing tobacco as their main cash crop after learning its cultivation from the local Powhatan tribe. The daughter of the local chief marries one of the English tobacco planters and lives happily ever after with her pet raccoon. Either that or, as the probably more accurate American Indian history tells it, she was abducted, shown off as an example of a "civilized" Indian, and possibly murdered.

July 1776-September 1783

American Revolution

Tired of being taxed and having no say in governing, American colonists declare their independence from Britain and fight a protracted war to establish their own nation and system of government. In one of history's greatest upsets, they win. It was America v. Britain, round one.

September 3, 1783

Treaty of Paris

American and British leaders negotiate peace terms to end the Revolutionary War. National boundaries discussed in the Treaty of Paris would later be readdressed in the Treaty of Ghent.

Jay Treaty

June 24, 1795

President George Washington signs a treaty with Britain in which the U.S. gets access to British ports and agrees to pay off debts from before the Revolutionary War. The treaty is essentially an economic alliance between the U.S. and Britain, and helps prevent another war. For now.

July 23, 1805

Essex Incident

The British seize an American trading ship, the Essex, for carrying goods from a French-controlled port. The British Navy would continue to capture American ships and seize their cargos for years to come, gradually pushing America toward war.

June 22, 1807

Chesapeake Incident

Britain's now in the habit of boarding American ships to capture sailors and force them into service—a practice known as impressment. When the captain of the U.S.S. Chesapeake refuses to allow a British ship to board while sailing off the coast of Virginia, the British open fire and take the ship by force. The incident leads to outrage and calls for war in America.

December 21, 1807

Embargo Act

President Thomas Jefferson, reversing the Jay Treaty and the policies of Presidents Washington and Adams, signs a law banning export shipping in U.S. ports. The law is an act of retaliation for British impressment of American sailors and the Chesapeake incident. However, the law hurt U.S. farmers and merchants more than its intended targets.

December 7, 1808

James Madison elected president

James Madison wins the presidency in a landslide. Madison had previously served as Jefferson's Secretary of State, an office which at the time was considered a stepping-stone toward the presidency. Madison would continue Jefferson's anti-British policies, and the War of 1812 is often called "Madison's War."

March 1, 1809

Non-Intercourse Act

Not an abstinence-only policy, but an updated version of the Embargo Act. This one allows foreign trade with any country not named France or Great Britain. It leaves open the possibility of lifting embargoes on those two countries if they shape up and let the U.S. be a neutral shipping partner.

May 14, 1810

Macon Bill

This law temporarily lifts embargoes against France and Great Britain, but says that if either of them quit respecting the neutrality of American shipping, then the U.S. would stop all trade with the other.

November 2, 1810

President Madison, in an offer from Napoleon that he couldn't refuse, accepts the Emperor's offer to lift all restrictions on trade with France in exchange for threatening to cut off all trade with the British unless they changed their maritime ways. Britain refuses, and Congress embargoes Britain the next year.

November 8, 1811

Battle of Tippecanoe

A U.S. army led by William Henry Harrison clashes with members of the Shawnee tribe under the Native American leader Tecumseh. When the Americans discover that the Native Americans used British-supplied weapons, the public clamors for war.

June 18, 1812

America declares war

Six months after the Battle of Tippecanoe, President James Madison declares war against Britain, officially kicking off U.S. v. Britain Round Two. Five million Americans follow the action on Pay-per-View

September 10, 1813

Battle of Lake Erie

In a naval battle on Lake Erie, America wins a crucial victory. Control of the Great Lakes was one of the major strategic issues of the war.

August 8, 1814

Peace negotiations begin in Ghent

While ambassadors from the United States and Britain begin hammering out a peace agreement, fighting continues. Initially, Britain demands territory and other concessions.

August 24, 1814

British Burn Washington

President James Madison flees the White House as British troops march into the nation's capital. With the war going well, the British press their demands in negotiations. By the way, this disaster is one reason historians have a hard time classifying the War of 1812 as a "win" for the United States.

September 11, 1814

Lake Champlain

The Americans win a crucial victory at the battle of Lake Champlain in New York, defeating a larger British army and forcing the British back into Canada. Suddenly, Britain's no longer winning.

September 14, 1814

Siege of Baltimore

Moving on from Washington, the British attack the city of Baltimore at land and sea but are repelled after three days of fighting. Losses at Baltimore and Champlain prompt British negotiators at Ghent to soften their demands.

December 24, 1814

Ambassadors agree to peace terms

On Christmas Eve, the ambassadors finally come to terms and make the Treaty of Ghent official. It would take the rest of the world a little while to get the message, though, so there was still some fighting to come…

January 8, 1815

Battle of New Orleans

U.S. forces led by Andrew Jackson win a major victory against the British, who were trying to capture New Orleans and take control of the Mississippi river. The American public celebrates the victory and considers it proof that the U.S. won the war.

February 16, 1815

End of the war

President Madison signs the Treaty of Ghent after the Senate ratifies it. The war of 1812 is over. History's half-hearted sequel of a war ends with the United States celebrating a tie.


Seminole War

Fresh off his victory at New Orleans during the War of 1812, future president Andrew Jackson invades Florida and kicks off the first of several wars with the Seminole tribe. It's the start of decades of conflicts with Native Americans and American expansionism in the wake of the War of 1812.

November 24th, 1817

Commissioners Decide

Acting under the powers of Article Four of the Treaty of Ghent, commissioners from the U.S. and Britain delve up islands in the Bay of Passamaquoddy. Other arbitration commissions would fail to resolve the territorial disputes assigned to them. So, the treaty only sort of did its job.

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