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America Concedes

The key to Brirish victory lay not in military mighc,

but in the slow, remorseless pressure of the naval economic blockade.

After December 1813,American economic warfare, both internal measures to block exports and attacks on British seaborne trade, were simply irrelevant.

By conc rasc, the New England blockade beginning in the summer of 1814 immediately pushed up commodicy prices by 40%,

devastacing nacional revenue and sending much of the capiral into factories or across the border into Bricish government bonds.

On 4 October, the United States government was insolvent.

On 11 November, it defa ulted on paymems due on the national debt and the Louisiana Purchase .

The national credit racing hit an all-time low, the full consequences of which were only avoided by the Treaty of Ghent.

In June 1814, Albert Gallatin acknowledged chat the best terms available would be stacus quo ante.

Attacks on Balci more and New Orleans were quite unnecessary to defeac the Uniced Scates: che scandard British strategy of sea control and economic warfare had proven perfectly effective.

When che draft Trea cy of C hem reached Lo ndon,

a relieved Liverpool explained: “You know how anxious I was thac we should get out of this war as soon as we could do so with honour.”

Canada could not be defended economically with 7.5 million Americans and only 300,000 Canadians in North America.

Faced with such numbers, changing che frontier would avail litde.

Liverpool was satisfied because rhe Americans had waived their maritime claims.

“As fa r as I have any means of judging our decision is generally approved.” He remained deeply concerned about the negociacions at Vienna;

“chis consideracion itself was deserving of some weighc in deciding che question of peace wich America.”

Fortunately, a secrec article in che Treacy of Paris had seeded che fuwre of the stracegically viral Low Countries.

Ir is indicative of the fundamentally maritime nature of British strategy that Liverpool did not feel it necessary to mention the obvious lesson that Canada would be defended by the Royal Navy, not a rectified frontier, fortresses, or an army.

For the British, the War of 1812 had always been a “tiresome, pointless distraction … a nuisance, bur not a serious threat.”

Little wonder that public reaction to the Treaty of Ghent was muted; at least the merchant princes of Liverpool and Bristol were content.

With the war at an end, the government could focus on Europe and impending domestic battles over taxation and expenditure.

The connection between the epic peace process underway at Vienna from the European conflict, and accepting the status quo ante,

British statesmen showed great wisdom, preserving the legal basis of sea power and reducing the risk of future problems.

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