The War of 1812

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The War of 1812

The War of 1812 is sometimes referred to as a “Second War for Independence” and was an important event in America’s early history.

The cause of the war comes from several British actions during its conflict with France in the Napoleonic Wars.

In its war with France, Britain wanted to restrict trade between America and France. Needing more men, Britain’s Royal Navy used impressment, capturing U.S ships, kidnapping its sailors, and forcing them into service for Great Britain.

Furthermore, the British encouraged Native Americas Nations to attack American settlers around the Great Lakes. One such instance was The Battle of Tippecanoe between the Shawnee Nation and the U.S. Army in 1811.

The Shawnee Chief Tecumseh created alliances with other Nations to resist American settlers pushing into their land. Under the command of William Henry Harrison, American forces defeated an alliance led by Tecumseh's brother Tenskwatawa and destroyed Prophetstown, their main village. Americans blamed the British for inspiring Tecumseh to fight against the U.S.

War between the US and Great Britain was declared on June 18, 1812.

One of the first battles was a major defeat for the Americans. Tecumseh's confederacy allied with a small British militia and forced Americans to surrender Detroit in August 1812.

However, the Americans won an important victory the Battle of Lake Erie in September 1813 that ensured American control of the lake.

On August 24, 1814, the British won the Battle of Bladensburg and took control of Washington, D.C.

The War of 1812

There, British troops burned down the Capitol and the White House (called the Presidential Mansion at the time) in retaliation for American forces looting and burning York, Canada in 1813.

President James Madison and the government were evacuated to Maryland and a thunderstorm extinguished most of the fires before they could spread.

American forces secured a key victory on September 11, 1814 in New York. The Battle of Plattsburgh (also known as the Battle of Lake Champlain) saved New York from British invasion, however the British were still gaining ground.

The War of 1812 and the Star Spangled Banner

The Battle of Baltimore began the very next day with British ships bombarding Fort McHenry for several days in September 1814.

Aboard a British ship, lawyer and poet Francis Scott Key watched the bombing of the fort but saw the American flag still flying. This inspired him to write "The Star Spangled Banner".

American forces held off the attack and the British withdrew after suffering heavy casualties.

Fighting moved to the South, where U.S. forces led by Andrew Jackson won a decisive victory at the Battle of New Orleans in January 1815.

The battle however, was fought after the U.S. and Great Britain signed the Treaty of Ghent ending the war on December 24, 1814.

While the treaty essentially restored everything to how it was before the war, Americans considered it a moral victory. They fought off the powerful British Empire again. This brought about the “Era of Good Feelings”, a period with less partisan disagreement.

The Federalist Party was all but gone due to their antiwar stance and Andrew Jackson would use the fame gained in the war to eventually become elected president in 1828. 

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