The war of 1812 was a battle between the British Empire forces and United States forces. The conflict took place between June 1812 and 1815 spring, albeit the treaty to bring the war to an end was signed in Europe in 1814 (Heidler and Heidler, 2002). The war was declared by the US because of numerous reasons among them: British support of American Indian communities, trade restrictions, kidnapping and forcing American sailors to serve in the Royal Navy, and one of the most important reasons was the humiliation of honor of the Americans by the British. Most of the fighting took place at the Canadian border as well as the Gulf of Mexico (Black, 2002). This paper will analyze the causes of the war of 1812, casualties, course and impact of the war, impressment, and the treaty of Ghent that brought an end to the war.
Suffice it to say that the war of 1812 is in some cases also known as the ‘forgotten war’ together with the Revolutionary War. The war was essentially between the recently liberated United States and the British Empire. Impressment of American sailors was a major cause of the war. Impressment involved the kidnapping of American sailors by the British to serve on the Royal navy. This was viewed by the Americans as an attack on the sovereignty of America. In addition, the war was also caused in part by disagreements between the two nations over naval trade and shipping (Heidler, 2009). In the United States, support of the war was largely divided with the South and the West pushing for a conflict and the citizens of New England opposing any type of conflict. This opposition would continue to grow, especially during the period of conflict. War Hawks who were very influential members of congress at that period requested that President James Madison asks the congress to declare war against the British. Consequently, the country declared war of the British on June 18, 1812 (Watson, 2014).
It is important to note that the 1794 constitution set the pace for the development of a navy. The US congress passed a bill that allowed the country to build 6 navy ships. The U.S.S was one of the ships that were constructed as a result, costing around $318,719. The U.S.S ended up being the 2nd largest warship at that period. The USS constitution was very instrumental in the naval battle. The ship never lost a battle and it sunk very many ships belonging to the Royal Navy. Furthermore, it captured very 24 enemy vessels (Black, 2002). The United States at last legitimately addresses their foreign policy after this war. For quite a long time past presidents neglected to endeavor to harmonize with Europe, consequently bringing the United States closer to universal war. The US continually announced its impartiality strategy – friendly to all sides. It was then that both quarreling countries; Britain and France started to seize US trade ships. This prompted the unpopular Embargo Act of 1807 to come into play; making it illicit to trade with Britain or France. This negatively influenced the United States, particularly New England, which depended on trade for development. On the other hand, once Madison took office; he instituted the accompanying Non-Intercourse Act, later supplanted by the Mason’s Bill number 2. This guaranteed that whichever country respected US neutrality would get exclusive trading with the US. In spite of the fact that these bills were enacted, these issues would eventually still pave the way for the War of 1812 (Heidler and Heidler, 2002).
The first major battle during the war was very disastrous for the US. William Hull led an army of 2200 men, but they surrendered to British forces without firing even a single shot at Detroit. General Hull was eventually sentenced to death two years later for cowardice, although he was pardoned by President James Madison. The following fight called for troops to cross the Niagara River into Canada. An American armed force of 6,000 men directed by General Stephen Van Rensselaer attacked Canada crossing the Niagara River at Queenston. The Canadian Army summoned by British General Isaac Brock attacked the Americans while they were crossing the river. Van Rensselaer imprudently separated his forces and Brock’s men cut the vast majority of a gathering of 800 Americans to pieces while whatever remains of the army stood still by just a couple of miles away. General Brock took a shot in the chest and was slaughtered in the battle (Heidler, 2009).
The way was open finally for Harrison to attack Upper Canada and to recover Detroit and in September of 1813, General William Henry Harrison drove a force of 4,500 Americans over the secured Lake Erie in quest for British troops. On October fifth, Harrison vanquished the enemy at Moravian Town and their Indian partners in the Battle of the Thames. Tecumseh, the Shawnee pioneer of the Pan-Indian confederation prior crushed at Tippecanoe, is also murdered in the fight, driving a number of Britain’s Indian associates to relinquish their union (Willig, 2008).
Direct talks between the United States and Great Britain, proposed by the British crusader, Lord Castlereagh, started in Ghent. On August 24th American defenders, with President James Madison in participation, were immediately routed by the invaders in a fight at Bladensburg a couple of miles from the Washington. As the British armed force of 4,000 approached, most of the Washington inhabitants fled the city (Langguth, 2006). That night, the vanguard of the British army came to Capitol Hill and started its destruction of all public buildings in the city. The British destroyed The White House and all department buildings by burning them to the ground. Secretary of War John Armstrong was rebuked for the lack of foresight and knowledge that left America’s capital ineffectively shielded and he was compelled to resign. In the wake of the capture of Washington so effectively, the British didn’t think they would experience any difficulty taking Baltimore. They figured they would sail their boats directly into the harbor and wreck Fort McHenry with cannon flame clearing a path for a land ambush on the city. However, the British assault on the capital had given the Americans time to get ready for them with more than 16,000 troops. When General Ross, a British General, attempted to attack via land he was murdered and his troops driven back (Heidler and Heidler, 2002).
The War of 1812 was put to an end when the Treaty of Ghent was signed toward the end of 1814, ensuring that the United States and Britain would end their battle. None of the sides had the ability to claim triumph and they kept battling for a few more weeks. The Treaty of Ghent was unable to prevent the slaughter that occurred in New Orleans (Langguth, 2006).
The Hartford convention traversed from December 15, 1814 to January 4, 1815 in the United States due to the war of 1812. This was the opposing party which was strong in England and in New York where it worked together with Mayor DeWitt Clinton of New York City and upheld him for president in 1812. It was against the Embargo Act of 1807 and Non-Intercourse Act of 1809 (Langguth, 2006). At the point where Madison was re-elected in 1812 New York became stronger and thus the war turned against Americans which gave British a chance to block the entire coastline and subsequently all New England’s activities were meddled with. From this, Massachusetts and Connecticut encountered the outcomes of contradicting Madison. Madison likewise relinquished it to the normal economy. Those Federalists contradicted to war with Britain and supportive of breakaway were known as the Blue light federalists (Watson, 2014).
In New England, fortress of the Federalist Party, individuals were very dissatisfied with the war, even after the triumph in Baltimore there was still a possibility of the British winning the war. Some New England Federalists went so far as to contend for Secession from the Union, in which New England would independently seek peace with Britain. There was also some gossip across the country of claims that some upset Federalists were actually tipping off British cruisers about US ships that were attempting to run the British naval blockade.
During the last months of 1814, the New England Federalists started the most formal declaration of their disappointment about the war with the start of the Hartford Convention. At that time, despite the fact that the fight for Baltimore had been won, it appeared that Britain could still win the war, or possibly that the war may go on a while longer. Delegates from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont and Connecticut sent representatives to Hartford, where they met in secret for 3 weeks. Around the nation, citizens viewed the Hartford convention to signal that New England was planning to withdraw from the union. It is important to note that some delegates were very radical. John Lowell and Timothy Pickering, for example, wanted to use this threat of secession to their benefit. Most delegates, on the other hand, were more moderate such as Harrison Gray Otis, who believed that the talk of secession may prompt civil war (Langguth, 2006).
After a three-week deliberation, the Hartford Convention’s last requests were in fact very moderate. The Convention requested the government to supply money to support New England’s trade economy, and for another Constitutional change which obliged a two-thirds majority vote, as opposed to a straightforward 51% vote, to enforce embargoes and to declare war (Watson, 2014).
The individuals from the Hartford Convention sent errand people with their requests to Washington. Arriving in same period as news of Andrew Jackson’s triumph in New Orleans, the delivery people were given little consideration as the city celebrated uncontrollably. Very many people mocked the flag-bearers of the Hartford Convention; others viewed them as secessionists. The Hartford Convention, in spite of its moderate requests, made the Federalists look suspicious, and after the convention, the party would slowly decline.
The New England Federalists had justifiable reasons to be vexed. Northeastern shipping had been harmed more than other industries, and despite the fact that the war had brought about monetary hardship all through the US; it was New England that endured most. Toward the end of the war, as the nation commended the Treaty of Ghent, Federalists needed to question why the war, with all the monetary penances it involved, had ever been battled in the first place if in the end the status quo remained (NMAH, 2015).
Although the Federalists were angry, New England also profited benefited tremendously from the war. Since the war had halted British products from coming into the US, New England producers all of a sudden got insurance against being undersold by British manufacturers. In these conditions, highly productive New England production lines sprang up, and Northeastern assembling boomed during the period. As a result, the War of 1812 jolted the American Industrial Revolution, making New England the prevailing site of American assembling. In this regard, Federalist indignation ignored a massively important benefit of the war (Watson, 2014).
The War concluded in 1814 after more than two years of savage fighting. The war was in a stalemate with both sides counting their misfortunes. The war was a pivotal occasion in United States as it established it as a country with power, personality and ready to shield itself in any war. The 1812 war moderately supported the Americans. The British powers and government no longer had reasons to meddle with American trade as they were crushed by the French forces (NMAH, 2015). The Indians who were the biggest hindrance to the white settlement in America and development were not a threat any longer. The war of 1812 made the Americans feel more secure about settling in the west.
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Langguth, A. (2006). Union 1812. New York: Simon & Schuster.
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