April 16, 1818: The Rush-Bagot Treaty is ratified in the US. The treaty was between the US and Britain following the War of 1812. That war was fought between June 18, 1812 and February 18, 1815 and ended in a draw with little accomplished other than thousands killed and many more wounded. Many of the battles took place on the Great Lakes. The US allies included the Choctaw, Cherokee, and Creek while the British were helped by over a dozen tribes and Spain. Their rule of Canada remained intact at the end of the war. The war did finalize some of the unresolved issued left over from the Revolutionary War but no borders were changed and Canada remained a British colony.
The purpose of the treaty signed on this date was to demilitarize the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain. The British maintained several different military installations along the international boundary and these were to be dismantled and vacated. British North America and the US could each maintain one and only one ship of not more than 100 tons burden on both Lake Ontario and Lake Champlain. They could each have one and only one cannon not to exceed eighteen pounds at each site as well. The other four of the Great Lakes could each have two ships of similar size and cannon also within this limit. Between this treaty and the one actually ending the war, it was set up to demilitarize the boundary between the US and Canada.
The ideas put forth in the treaty were first established in correspondence between acting US Secretary of State Richard Rush and British Minister to Washington Sir Charles Bagot exchanged on April 27 and 28, 1817. The terms were officially written up as the Rush-Bagot Agreement and presented to Congress. On this date, the Senate ratified the treaty. The Treaty of Washington in 1871 completed the disarmament and the entire border was thus affected. In 1946, both the US and Canada agreed through diplomatic exchange, to permit naval vessels on the Great Lakes to be used for training as long as each government was advised prior to the movement of ships to the area. In 2004, the US Coast Guard began to arm its 11 Great Lakes ships with M240 7.62 mm machine guns to help control the increase in smuggling operations on the lakes.
Today, there are still military installations on or near the Great Lakes. Canada maintains 17 such installations scattered throughout Ontario. The US has 11 such installations scattered across five states. This treaty created the longest east-west boundary in the world which stretched for 5,527 miles. Today, the Canada-US border is the longest demilitarized border anywhere. Each of the two countries has a plaque commemorating the Rush-Bagot Agreement and celebrates the ability to live in close proximity without malice and without military protection of an agreed upon border. There is a plaque in Kingston, Ontario, one in Washington, D.C., and a third is located on the ground of Old Fort Niagara (near Youngstown, New York), as well.
When I was crossing the border into Canada, they asked if I had any firearms with me. I said, ‘Well, what do you need?’ – Steven Wright
Canada is the only country in the world that knows how to live without an identity. – Marshall McLuhan
If the national mental illness of the United States is megalomania, that of Canada is paranoid schizophrenia. – Margaret Atwood
Canada is like a loft apartment over a really great party. – Robin Williams
Also on this day: Little Sure Shot – In 1922, a little old lady performs a remarkable marksmanship feat.
Goya Sunk – In 1945, the Russians sunk the German refugee ship.
High Flyer – In 1912. Harriet Quimby became the first woman to fly across the English Channel.
Taking Marbles; Leaving – In 1858, the Wernerian Natural History Society ceased to exist.