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A Brief History Lesson: The Treaty of Ghent and Desktop Leather

October 24, 2013

We like history here at DCT, and when we have the opportunity to be a part of a project that has historical significance, we jump at the chance.  As many of our readers know, one of our areas of expertise is desktop leather, for antiques and custom furniture.  These worlds collided when we were asked to supply the leather for a replica that was being built of the desk at which President Madison signed the Treaty of Ghent to end the War of 1812.

Ghent tableNow if you remember from your high school history classes, the War of 1812, (also called the Second War of Independence) was fought between the U.S. and Great Britain, over trade, U.S. status as an independent nation, and U.S. expansion.  The American/Canadian border was a place of much conflict throughout the war, both by land and water, on the Great Lakes.  One particular battle in this war inspired Francis Scott Key to write what would later become the lyrics to the United States National anthem.  Interestingly, both Canadians and the U.S. view the conflict positively – Canadians retained their borders despite U.S. invasion attempts, and the trade negotiations between the U.S. and Great Britain were ultimately resolved.  While the resolution of the trade issues was largely a result of outcomes of the Napoleonic wars across the pond, U.S. independence was validated with the negotiations themselves, and ultimately with the Treaty of Ghent.  The treaty was signed in the neutral city of Ghent in Belgium by diplomats in the final days of 1814, and ratified in February of 1815 by each government.

It’s fitting that important documents are signed on nice pieces furniture (now the White House Museum has an entire room for it), and the desk we put our leather on was beautiful, and well crafted.  It is now on tour as part of an effort to promote education about the War of 1812, and will most likely end up in D.C. as part of a permanent visitor installation – so the next time you decide to brush up on your Canadian and American History and take a tour of Washington D.C., be sure to go check out our handiwork, and maybe learn a little along the way!

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