The War of 1812 was fought between the Americans and the British as a direct reaction to the unfair treatment
that Americans were receiving. After the American Revolution , it was assumed that they would be free from any British influence
in their home. However, that wasn’t the case. The British remained in the states, supporting the Indians, and residing
near the Great Lakes. The Napoleonic wars were
also a catalyst in the War of 1812. The fighting between France and England left the United States with the short end
of the stick when it came to neutral shipping rights. (1)
The American Revolution was not by any means in the favor of the colonies.
But, by some unknown assist they were able to achieve the victory and gain freedom from their mother country Britain. The fight was difficult; militia men should by rights not have been able
to defeat a trained group of British soldiers. But, they did. The victory of the American Revolution now belonged to the Americans;
what would become the United States of
America. Being granted their freedom
as a new nation, it was expected that British influence would be limited to what was left over from their previous rank. However, their influence was not diminished. In fact, the British were determined
to leave their mark.
The Native Americans had been
fighting for their land since the 1700’s. In 1810, Tenskwatawa and Tecumseh met with Governor William Henry Harrison
to resolve the problem of Americans “buying” land from them without their consent. However, instead of resolving the issue, the meeting turned into a battle that ended in a stalemate. From then, the violence and Indian persistence grew leaving many Americans believing that the British were supplying them
with weaponry and encouragement. Western farmers were especially unsettled by this, and made many calls for Congress to declare
war on Britain. (Cayton,
The Napoleonic Wars were also a means of wartime thoughts. They began in 1803 between France and England. During the war, the British navy had gained a reputation as being the “Mistress
of the Seas.” Their naval power was said to be stronger than any other, and therefore they controlled the seas. Napoleon
Bonaparte took it upon himself to cripple Britain’s reputation. He ordered European nations such as Russia and Prussia to stop trading with the British. When the British found out about this, they were
upset, with reason. So they reacted by attempting a blockade of Europe. (2) This British blockade angered many Southerners because a considerable amount of trade was lost.
“The Orders in Council” created what may have been the biggest spark that leads to the War of 1812. It was a proclamation without Parliaments
permission that stated American ships were to be stopped and searched to make sure that there was no British working on them.
It was common for British to escape to American vessels to work seeing as though the pay was higher, and the conditions were
better. These impressments of sailors soon became a major reason for hostility. In 1807, a U.S frigate under the direction
of James Barren left for the Mediterranean. It was a passenger ship, named the Chesapeake. Before the ship
had even traveled far from US waters, a British ship called the Leopard stopped the Chesapeake and demanded the
right to search it for British sailors. Barren refused to let them aboard, so the Leopard fired on them. (3) 18 Americans were killed, and the outrage in the States went crazy. Citizens were infuriated. The British had harmed an innocent
passenger ship, and killed innocent passengers likewise.
If it were up to a majority opinion, the country would have engaged in a war with Britain at that moment. However, Thomas Jefferson decided to take a different approach. He enacted the Embargo Act of 1807.
It stated that there would be no supplies leaving or coming into any American ports. He had hoped that this act would weaken
the British economy. Instead, it scraped them and really hurt New
England shipping. Not only did his plan backfire, it was
remarkably ineffective. Many people disobeyed the act, and would wait until out of view to trade in the middle of the ocean.
(4) In 1809, this act was repealed by Congress.
James Madison became president in 1809. With a new president came new congressmen who were determined
to take a more derisive stand toward Britain. These same men believed strongly that the area of Canada should also be under the United
States, that when the Unites States
won independence that Canada was also part of the deal. Men such as Calhoun and Clay made up this group, and they
were fondly known as the War Hawks. Upon American expansion, many fights were fought with the Native Americans. The idea that
the British were supplying these men with weaponry enraged the War Hawks and convinced them to go to war.
Somewhere between innocent Americans getting killed, British backing of Indians on American land, or their
failure to leave American territory once independence had been won, the British and Americans engaged themselves in yet another
war. The war lasted only two wars, and is not all that prevalent in American history. However, it was a dramatic and important
war in Canadian history. As the war progressed, the opposition in the states grew so much that some merchants even continued
their trade with the British. The War Hawks were alone in their own support, not receiving much from their country, only to
end the war in a stalemate.