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The War of 1812 began on June 18th, 1812, and lasted for three years.

It is a war fought between the United States of America and Great Britain, a country known at the time as the greatest naval power anywhere in the world. The war ended on February 17th, 1815, although the treaty to end the war was signed as early as three months before this date. This was an impactful war and had large implications for Britain and America.

There were also a lot of other countries and territories that were caught up in the fighting and conflict throughout the war. Further, there were some costly consequences for the United States, one of the most notable being the burning of the US capital, Washington, DC. Despite this, the United States pushed Britain back in other areas, including New York, New Orleans, and Baltimore. There are a lot of questions that remain surrounding the end of the war. However, many still know it as the second war of independence. So, read on to find out more about the details surrounding the War of 1812.

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Causes of the War of 1812

There was a range of causes for the war. At the beginning of the 1800s, Britain was in the midst of conflict with France, which was led, at the time, by Napoleon Bonaparte. Part of this ongoing conflict was that it led to France and Great Britain attempting to block supplies from reaching each other by stopping the United States from trading with the opposing country. In this way, a stalemate was set up, with both France and Britain using the same tactic to force the other country into surrender and go on to win the conflict.

The Orders in Council were put into place in 1807. This demanded that any countries remaining neutral had to get a license to trade with France. Instating the Orders in Council was an attempt by the British to put pressure on France and reduce their access to the items and goods they needed. As well as this, the Royal Navy started to take seamen from United States vessels and make them serve Britain instead. All of these things, of course, angered America and drew them into the conflict.

Two years later, the Embargo Act was repealed since it had caused more harm to Americans than to competing countries as it placed restrictions on trading. The act was, in turn, replaced by an act called the Non-Intercourse Act. This was more specific about blocking trade with France and Britain. However, this, too, turned out to need amendment and was later replaced by a new bill in 1810. This new bill declared that if Britain or France put trade restrictions in place against the United States, then congress would go on to take back non-intercourse with the opposing country.

Tensions escalated when Napoleon gave the impression that he would end restrictions. As a result, the president at the time, James Madison, went on to block any trade with Britain. Following this, there was more agitation and talk of war, especially in response to British violations of maritime rights. Another cause of aggravation was that Britain continued to push for Native Americans to be hostile toward America’s expansion west.

The break out of the War of 1812

In 1811, United States troops were led into the Battle of Tippecanoe, which they went on to win. This was a result that caused a lot of the Indians in the Northwest Territory to conclude that they were going to need support from Britain to prevent United States settlers from encroaching onto their land.

At the same time, those in congress were putting more pressure on the president until, in 1812, he signed a declaration of war against Britain. This was the result of a vote. However, there was still a lot of anger and division over the decision, especially from the House and the Senate. Generally, there was support for the war from the Western and Southern congressmen, but there was a lot of resistance from the Federalists.

The American forces made their first move against Britain by attacking Canada since it was a British colony then. The invasion was a success, mainly due to how new and untrained the American troops were when it took place.

In August, the Americans were beaten by Canadian forces led by Sir Isaac Brock, a British administrator, and soldier. Brock’s forces pushed the Americans back across the border without exchanging gunfire.

The outcome for American forces

It appeared that things were improving for the United States due to victories such as the Battle of Lake Erie, which gave America control of the Northwest Territory. They also went on to reclaim Detroit. At the same time, the navy in the US had also achieved multiple victories. However, the Royal Navy defeated Napoleon’s armies in 1814, meaning Britain could concentrate all its forces on the war against North America. This gave them a much-needed chance to turn the tides.

The British made a raid on Chesapeake Bay and managed to capture the capital of the United States, Washington, DC. During this raid, they burned down essential government buildings, including the Capitol and the White House.

In September 1814, during the Battle of Plattsburgh, the American navy defeated the British force. Then, only two days later, the US forces went on to withstand 25 hours of attack by the British Navy. After this barrage, soldiers hoisted a huge American flag, and the British were forced to abandon Chesapeake Bay. They retreated and went on to amass their forces to launch a new attack against New Orleans.

The end of the War of 1812

Before the new attack could be launched, peace talks had already begun. Britain decided to look for an armistice after their recent defeats. During negations, the US agreed to give up its previous demand to end impressments. Britain made the return sacrifice of leaving Canada’s borders as they were and withdrawing from any effort to create an Indian state in the Northwest. It was on December 24th, 1814, that the Treaty of Ghent was signed. However, it was not until the following February that the treaty was finally ratified.

Despite this negotiated peace, more battles were left in the War of 1812. In January of 1815, the British forces went on with their attack against New Orleans, where they came up against the American army. Hearing of the battle was said to have lifted spirits in the US even though nothing had been gained from the objectives they set out to accomplish at the outset of the war.

The impact of the War of 1812

It may not have a massive place in common recollection of history, but the War of 1812 remains a significant event for those in Canada and Native America. For these areas, the War of 1812 was a big moment as it saw them lose the chance to govern themselves.

There were a lot of consequences of the war, some of which were significant for the United States. The Treaty of Ghent saw the end of partisan infighting that had been rife in the government for decades. The treaty’s signing led to a period referred to as the Era of Good Feelings.

For America, the war can also be seen as the end of the Federalist Party since they had been seen as unpatriotic due to their protests again the war. Due to this, the country was left with a reinforced tradition of Anglophobia, which had been around since the Revolutionary War. As well as these changes, the war gave America an increased sense of pride and self-confidence, leading to a further sense of American expansionism. This is something that took hold of America throughout the 19th century.

The War of 1812 is something that isn’t widely taught, but it is a war that has far-reaching consequences. The war is remembered as a byproduct of the Napoleonic Wars, which resulted from the conflict over who could dominate the wider world – Britain or France. The interference of both of these countries in American trade and the lives of American seamen led to an ongoing war, the consequences of which should not be forgotten.