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War of 1812 - The Second American Revolution?

Effects of the War

War of 1812 - The Second American Revolution?
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         The War of 1812 was fought for two years between the Americans and the British. In hindsight, the War ended without a winner, and without finished cause. At first, the “"War Hawks"” as they were known convinced Congress that the conditions in the US were not capable of being dealt with the way that Jefferson and Madison intended on dealing with them. The impressments of American soldiers and the unfair trade embargos were enraging these Southern citizens, giving them the fervor and motivation to convince Congress to declare war despite the rest of the  Nation’s opposition. (1)

            The War of 1812 officially  ended in Ghent, Belgium in 1814 with the Treaty of Ghent. One of the first problems that the representatives meant to confront was the issue of impressments. The irony is that by this point, impressment was not an issue. The Napoleonic wars had ended, Napoleon had been defeated, and the British navy had received an abundance of sailors. At this point, one of the three main reasons American entered wars in the first place had been shut down, without any winner or loser on either side of the point. (2)

            Another main reason that Americans decided to enter war was the trade issues that were “destroying American economy.” The British had attempted to eliminate trade from America to France during the Napoleonic wars. The US didn’t like that idea, and so they enacted their own Embargo Act in 1807. Jefferson’s idea behind this act was to eliminate trade to Britain, in turn ruining their economy. Instead, it began to ruin the New Englanders lives. A year later, the Bill was repealed by President Madison. He also declared war on the British. At this point, the very start of the war, there was no reason for it. The British had already ended impressment and ended the trade restrictions, but none of this news had reached the United States.  (3) So, from the very beginning, there was really no motive for the declaration of war.

            Come the end of the war, many claim that it was an unnecessary war to fight in the first place. It seems as though there were no winners, and from one point of view, you would be right. The Americans failed to make Canada a part of their territory, Britain failed to prove to the Americans that they were a “world power” and the Native Americans failed to regain their land. It is easy to make that claim, and historians have done it for hundreds of years since. The claim that the war was  a draw, and that it was unnecessary to fight. However, when looked at deeper it is clear that the war did in fact consist of winners and losers.

 

Turning Point in the War?

            The war of 1812 is most commonly looked at from the British, American, Native American view. However, the Canadians were a big part of the war also. In reality, it was on their land that a good portion of the war was fought, and although  it was regarded as an infinitesimally small war on the American part, it was as important to the Canadians as the Revolution was to the Americans.  Come the end of the war, the Canadians believed that the Americans had lost. The land was able to remain in Canadian power, and the Native Americans had not been granted access. The opposite side, the Americans claim that since they won at the end battle, the Battle of New Orleans, they had won the war. By winning that battle, South expansion was made possible. (4)

        In reality, there was no territorial gain on either side, nor for the Natives. The issue of Indian settlement was pushed aside, and the end of the war came and went without any real discussion. The American motive of gaining Canada to gain Southern states and southern votes was not achieved. The British motive of gaining a standing of world power was also not achieved. (5)

 

            Although the war was not drastically successful for any of the countries fighting in it, there were some positive outcomes. Industrial advances such as the Lowell system were introduced. This was a textile advancement which allowed for the entire production of cloth under one roof. They soon became the leading textile industry in the country. (6)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Eli Whitney was also  successful after the war. He invented a cotton gin that allowed for mass production of cotton. Before this invention, picking cotton required many many hours and much labor. With this invention, the cotton industry was revolutionized. (7)

 

                                               photo of model of Eli Whitney cotton gin

            Although not one of the major wars in American history, it provided on major thing for the country. It gave the United Stated a name among the other countries in the world. It proved that they were not just a small group of people that miracle won their independence, only to run back home to “mom” once they could not deal on their own. This was the first real war as a country, and they fought it as one.