All this was exciting but it was inconclusive. In fact, never was a government less prepared than was that of the United States in 1812. It had neither the disciplined troops, the ships of war, nor the supplies required by the magnitude of the military task. It was fortune that favored the American cause. Great Britain, harassed, worn, and financially embarrassed by nearly twenty years of fighting in Europe, was in no mood to gather her forces for a titanic effort in America even after Napoleon was overthrown and sent into exile at Elba in the spring of 1814. War clouds still hung on the European horizon and the conflict temporarily halted did again break out. To be rid of American anxieties and free for European eventualities, England was ready to settle with the United States, especially as that could be done without conceding anything or surrendering any claims.
=The Treaty of Peace.=—Both countries were in truth sick of a war that offered neither glory nor profit. Having indulged in the usual diplomatic skirmishing, they sent representatives to Ghent to discuss terms of peace. After long negotiations an agreement was reached on Christmas eve, 1814, a few days before Jackson’s victory at New Orleans. When the treaty reached America the people were surprised to find that it said nothing about the seizure of American sailors, the destruction of American trade, the searching of American ships, or the support of Indians on the frontier. Nevertheless, we are told, the people “passed from gloom to glory” when the news of peace arrived. The bells were rung; schools were closed; flags were displayed; and many a rousing toast was drunk in tavern and private home. The rejoicing could continue. With Napoleon definitely beaten at Waterloo in June, 1815, Great Britain had no need to impress sailors, search ships, and confiscate American goods bound to the Continent. Once more the terrible sea power sank into the background and the ocean was again white with the sails of merchantmen.