The Original Appointment of the British Agent For Prisoner Exchanges in the War of 1812, Signed By King George IV

Anthony St. John Baker served as Secretary to the British Commission at Ghent negotiating to end the war, and represented Britain when the Treaty of Ghent ratifications were exchanged

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Anthony St. John Baker came to the United States in 1812 as Secretary to the British Legation. When the U.S. commenced the War of 1812 by declaring war on Great Britain in June 1812, the British ambassador to Washington went home. Baker remained in the U.S. as British agent to deal with...

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The Original Appointment of the British Agent For Prisoner Exchanges in the War of 1812, Signed By King George IV

Anthony St. John Baker served as Secretary to the British Commission at Ghent negotiating to end the war, and represented Britain when the Treaty of Ghent ratifications were exchanged

Anthony St. John Baker came to the United States in 1812 as Secretary to the British Legation. When the U.S. commenced the War of 1812 by declaring war on Great Britain in June 1812, the British ambassador to Washington went home. Baker remained in the U.S. as British agent to deal with prisoners of war and manage any prisoner exchanges. He was recalled in 1813 after completing such an agreement. The following year he served as Secretary to the British Commission at Ghent negotiating to end the War of 1812. He returned to the U.S. in 1815 with a copy of the final Treaty in a wooden box, charged with the successful effort to exchange ratifications of that Treaty. Baker stayed on as British Charge D’Affaires in Washington until the arrival of Charles Bagot as the new British Ambassador in 1816. Baker then became Consul General in Washington until 1832. In 1827 he painted a famous watercolor showing the President’s House (White House) as it stood then, that is considered authoritative. It is now in the Huntington Library.

This is the original order to appoint Baker to serve in the United States. Document signed by the future King George IV as Prince Regent (“George P.R.”) for his ailing father, two pages, London, October 6, 1811: “Our Will and Pleasure is that you forthwith cause the Great Seal of Great Britain to be affixed to an instrument… containing a commission constituting and appointing our trusty and well-beloved Anthony St. John Baker, Esq., to be Secretary to His Majesty’s Legation to His Majesty’s good friend the United States…” It is also signed by Foreign Secretary Richard Colley Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley, the brother of the Duke of Wellington. Attached is a copy of the 3-page appointment of Baker, in Latin, making 5 pages to this document in all.

This is the first appointment we have ever carried naming an important person in history to serve in a foreign embassy to the United States. Pursuant to this document, Baker remained in Washington to negotiate prisoner exchanges in the War of 1812. This experience led to his being appointed to the British negotiating team at Ghent, and his becoming the British designee to exchange ratifications of the Treaty of Ghent.

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