War of 1812 – the Forgotten War in Europe

Throughout the 19th century, America transformed from a small, developing country into a world power. It was able to earn some credibility with other countries after it worked so hard to gain its independence in 1776. The United States also made many enemies after its monumental success. Acquisitions of land due to events such as The Louisiana Purchase, the Mexican Cession and the addition of Alaska, Florida, Oregon, and Texas tripled the size of the United States from 890,000 sq. miles to 2. 73 million sq. miles in less than 100 years.

One of the events that catalyzed this expansion was the War of 1812. The war is sometimes called “America’s second war for independence” because Great Britain was still interfering with American affairs though it had gained independence from them less than forty years preceding the next war. It was a war that should never have had to be fought if Britain had just understood that it was tied to the fact that they had liberated the United States from their rule. It was outlandishly unwarranted that the British feel the need to have to interfere once again with American affairs.

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The Americans were forced to fight a war that was already fought. One definite cause of the war cannot be pinpointed because there were many factors that contributed to the severity of the war and the intensity of the issues at hand; they can be narrowed down to three main concerns which are maritime and trade issues, the economic issues, seriously deteriorating 1 international political relations. The dispute on the seas and involving trade may have been the most serious cause of the grave situation preceding the war thus stirring up the conflict amongst the countries involved and intensifying the animosity.

The War of 1812, which was known to many people as the forgotten war, originated in Europe, where just like the Americans, many others were fighting for their independence. Before Americans got involved physically in the war, they did everything in their power to maintain their neutral status in the continuing conflict between France and Britain. During the years of 1789 and 1799, democrats and republicans in France overthrew the absolute monarchy after being influenced by American philosophy.

Unfortunately, war was inevitable. The War of 1812 stemmed from the European conflicts of the French Revolution and its successors, the Napoleonic Wars. France and Britain were still both suspicious of each other and were paranoid and constantly felt the need to be prepared for any possible attack from the opposing country. Britain was blockading any ship from going to France because of a war between the two countries, and as a result, ships had to first go through a British port in order to trade in France.

Britain considered any ship that did not stop an automatic enemy. Adding to troubles, the trade negotiations were severely disrupted by the dilemma of British search and seizure on the high seas. It was that many British soldiers and officers had attempted to desert their country trying to seek refuge on American ships. Since the British knew that there was a great possibility that their own men, now considered to be traitors, were being sheltered on any ship, they felt as if it were their responsibility to find these so-called deserters and give them their just punishment. Sometimes British generals would mistakenly take American generals as prisoners judging them to be deserters of the British Navy. The majority of the time, the mistake would take years to be corrected. An important economic aspect of the War of 1812 was President Jefferson’s installment Embargo Act in 1807 which stopped the majority of American vessels from sailing and closed trade with Europe; however, instead of disturbing Britain’s economy, the act adversely affected every region of the U.

S. , and its economy stalled. The Embargo Act lasted until 1810 when Congress passed Macon’s Bill No. 2, which vetoed the Embargo Act. Americans were still irate at Britain, though, because it had not opened up free trade. Their stinginess of free trade was caused by Napoleon’s Continental System which limited the amount of trade that could be done. Later, Napoleon’s plan backfired on him when the French government had begun to lose money as well.

Napoleon slackened the restrictions, which immediately benefited Britain – so he again tightened up the regulations in 1811. This caused his allies to revolt. The rise of nationalism in Europe gave Britain the opportunity to fight France on land. Britain used peoples against the French government of occupation, allowing Britain to follow up her naval victories with the army. There were also some political issues that seemed to boil up more and more with each passing day.

The United States was treating the Amerindians with little respect and felt as if the Amerindians should readily give up their land when asked for it. It was effortless for the British to make friendships with the Amerindians because of the pressure being put on Indians by the westward expansion of the United States. The Shawnee Indian tribes were tired of the threat 3 caused by the Americans and felt the need to revolt. Tecumseh and his brother, the Prophet, organized an uprising, ready to tell the Americans, by force, that their land was not to be trespassed upon.

At the Battle of Tippecanoe, the Indians were defeated but continued to blame the British for the uprising because the British had supposedly supplied the Amerindians with weapons and forced them to fight. Canada had realized the increasingly hostile relations between the United States and Britain, and because of this they began making friendships with Indians residing in the Northwest region of the United States. During the war, Americans called for an invasion of Canada mainly because of the support the British were giving the Indians of the Northwest.

The war of 1812 had a few small effects on the United States at the time, but these accomplishments would lead to larger things. America gained international respect after the war for resisting Great Britain for the second time in less than forty years. They retained the independence that they had so rightfully deserved. Not only did the war prove the U. S. ’s military, but it also strengthened its army. The U. S. learned how to train its servicemen, and it now had battle tested leaders. This factor would help the U. S. create one of the most powerful militaries in the world.

Its military would later help America expand by land acquisitions from the Spanish-American and Mexican-American Wars. The War of 1812 also strengthened America’s economy. The British blockade of America’s coast forced the U. S. to manufacture goods it normally imported; therefore, after the war, dependence on foreign countries was greatly diminished. Canada was actually greatly affected by the War of 1812. It caused the whole country to 4 unite against a common enemy, giving the country great success in resisting their oppressors.

This began the eruption of a nationalistic spirit across the whole country. They finally had something to be proud of and proved themselves strong and able. The United States had also influenced Canada to desire to initiate the process of developing a democracy or republic. Upper and Lower Canada agreed and started the Rebellions of 1837 and the Fenian raids of the 1860’s which finally resulted in the Canadian Confederation in 1867. They successfully overturned their prior government and replaced it with a much healthier type of government.

The “Militia Myth” was also born from this conflict. It was more pointed towards the citizens’ militia than rather at the formal military. Thus, it was believed through the “militia myth” that Upper Canada was saved only by the efforts of its settlers, with a little help from the British Regular Army. Canadian historians clung to this comforting thesis, which paralleled so well the idea of very limited defence expenditure for professional forces coupled with a large paper militia, for nearly a century and a half.

The War of 1812 stemmed from maritime, economic, and political issues that were still not completely resolved between the United States and Britain. Both countries were at fault for the conflict. America’s desire to expand its borders and by doing so violating the Indians’ borders was not necessary but rather just evidence that they could protect themselves and their territory. The U. S. was bullying the Amerindians into giving them more land that was, in all actuality, land that rightfully belonged to the Amerindians. Britain only added more fuel to the fire when they made alliances with the Indians.

Canada and Britain supported the Indians and supplied them with weapons in the Battle of Tippecanoe against the Americans. The continuation 5 of the British search and seizure policy was also unnecessary. They mistakenly took American generals into captivity believing them to be escapees from the British Royal Navy. Americans reacted with the Embargo Act which also negatively affected their own country lowering the quality of their economy. Lasting conflicts that did not originally involve the Americans were also part of the controversy that continued to exist without reason.

The Napoleonic Wars unnecessarily involved the U. S. but their desire to spread democracy and republicanism forced them to take actions for France. There are many parts to the War of 1812 and no one of them can be pinpointed back to one country by itself. Each country involved was responsible for the war in its own way. The War of 1812, the “forgotten war”, proved America to be worthy of its respect that it had earned in staying strong and united. 6 Works Cited Feicht, Andy. Causes of the War of 1812 and effects on Canada. The author of the packet that Mr.

Feicht gave to the IB HOTA students seems to be a reliable source. It seems that he writes to a scholarly audience interested in learning about the true historical account of any happening in history. The Napoleon Series. Military Subjects. http://www. napoleon- series. org/military/Warof1812/2006/Issue4/c_myths. html The author of this website is a historian whose intent is to write for those truly interested in a true historical account of a story in history. He has little bias in writing any historical account. He uses some very reliable sources for his website.

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