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Every American should know about the American Revolution. However, an equally important, but understated event was the second war of Independence, a.k.a.
the war of 1812. This war allowed America to prove they were a force to be reckoned with. After the Revolutionary war, Great Britain still thought it could control America. They soon realized they were seriously mistaken. The war occurred as a result of sanctions against the United States, the Royal Navy’s impressment of U.S. ships, and because of Britain’s aid to Native Americans. Some of the impacts of the war were that it gave the United States confidence and patriotic fire.
It also forced Native Americans to open their lands for American westward expansion. Since America’s independence from Great Britain, America was not taken seriously by the British. There were a few contributing factors which sparked the war of 1812. The first was, Great Britain placed restrictions on trade between France and the United States, in 1807. Secondly, the British captured American ships and forced U.S. seamen to be a part of the Royal Navy. Americans were outraged because of the impressment of U.
S. ships by the British. President Thomas Jefferson, who attempted to pacify the outraged citizens without declaring war, passed the Embargo Act of 1807. In the end, the Embargo Act harmed America more than it did Great Britain, or France, thus it was repealed. Unfortunately, it was replaced by the Non-intercourse Act which prohibited trade with both Great Britain, and France. This also proved to be ineffective and was replaced with a bill effectively stating that America would drop sanctions on whichever of the two countries agreed to drop their trade restrictions. Napoleon Bonaparte agreed to this, and sanctions were dropped on France, yet the sanctions on Great Britain remained. The straw that broke the camel’s back, however, was the fact that the British supported Native American hostility towards Americans.
Great Britain gave military aid and resources to Native Americans, who fought against American settlers expanding westward. After the battle of Tippecanoe, western americans dreamed of driving Britains out of Canada. By this time, there were young members of congress, known as the War hawks, such as Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun, Langdon Cheves, Felix Grundy, and others, who wanted to wage war against Great Britain. The War hawks stated that their goal was to seize Canada. Finally, in 1812, Congress declared war with Great Britain.
Before war was declared, congress enacted a law which pushed for American’s to volunteer for the U.S. Army. Almost immediately after war was declared, American forces commanded by General William Hull started their march to Fort Detroit in Ohio.
Hull’s forces were expected to invade Canada, however, the disaster that occurred at Fort Detroit proved that was not going to happen. Hull was almost sixty year old when he reluctantly agreed to march to Fort Detroit and invade Canada. General Brock was the military commander of the Canadian forces. The invasion was poorly planned.
Hull had planned to invade the western edge of Upper Canada, at the same time coordinated attacks would be made on Niagara Falls, and New York State. Brock discovered Hull’s plan to capture Fort Detroit, and marched westward to meet the American army. Another contributor to the Fort Detroit fail was that the invasion plan was published in the newspaper for anyone to see. Hull reached Detroit in early June, 1812. The fort was across the river from the British territory and around 800 American settlers lived in the vicinity.
While the fortifications were sturdy, the location was isolated, and it would be difficult for supplies or reinforcements to reach the fort in the event of a siege. Hull withheld attacking until he received word that the United States had formally declared war. A few days after he had arrived at Fort Detroit, a messenger informed him that America had declared war on Britain. On July 12, 1812, Hull led American forces across the river and seized the settlement of Sandwich. General Hull had multiple councils of war with his officers, and yet could not come to a solid decision to continue on and attack the nearest British strongpoint, fort Malden.
His indecision caused American scouting parties to be attacked by Indian Raiders. General Hull retreated across the river to Detroit on August 7, 1812. When Brock arrived, his troops met up with 1,000 Indians. Brock knew that Americans feared frontier massacres and so he threatened Hull that once the fighting commenced, the Indians would not be controlled. General Hull was feared what would happen to the women and children sheltered within the fort, if the Indians attacked, however, he sent back a message refusing to surrender. The British artillery fired upon the fort on August 15, 1812, and the Americans fired back with their cannons.
That night the Indians and Brock’s British soldiers crossed over the river, and marched to the fort in the morning. They were surprised to see an American officer, who also happened to be General Hull’s son, come out waving a white flag. Hull had decided to surrender Fort Detroit without a fight. The situation was better in the west, because Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s success in the Battle of Lake Erie put the Northwest Territory in American control. Harrison was also able to take Detroit back. The U.S.
Navy was able to score several victories against the Royal Navy. However, after the British defeated Napoleon, the focus of their attention was the war in America. A large number of British troops soon arrived and British forces raided the Chesapeake Bay and moved in on the U.S. capitol, capturing Washington, D.C., on August 24, 1814, and burning government buildings including the Capitol and the White House.
As it became obvious that the war would be costly and may be impossible to win militarily, there was a desire to find a peaceful end. American officials were eventually sent to Europe to work toward a negotiated settlement, the result of which was the Treaty of Ghent. When the war officially ended with the signing of the treaty, there was no clear winner. And, on paper, both sides admitted that things would return to how they had been before hostilities began. The final action of the war took place after the signing of the treaty, when Andrew Jackson decisively defeated the British at New Orleans on Jan. 8, 1815. This victory, which came after the technical end of the war, was important in restoring American confidence.
The war of 1812, was also called the the second of Independence from Britain. Though the War of 1812 is remembered as a relatively insignificant conflict in the United States and Britain, it remains large for Canadians and for Native Americans, who see it as a decisive turning point in their losing struggle to govern themselves. The war had an impact in the United States, as the Treaty of Ghent ended decades of bitter partisan infighting in government and ushered in the so-called “Era of Good Feelings.” The war also marked the demise of the Federalist Party, which had been accused of being unpatriotic for its anti war stance.
Perhaps most importantly, the war’s outcome boosted national self-confidence and encouraged the growing spirit of American expansionism that would shape the better part of the 19th century. The peace treaty failed to deal with the matters of neutral rights and impressment that were the cause of the conflict, however, the war did quicken the growth of American nationalism. Also, the defeats suffered by the Native Americans in the Northwest and in the South forced them to sign treaties with the U.S. government and opened their lands for American expansion.While the war of 1812 was might seem like an insignificant conflict between the United States, and Great Britain, it’s important for several reasons. The first one being that after the war, Great Britain backed down, and understood that America was its own country and could not be controlled by Britain.
The second being, it gave America confidence in its ability to defend itself, and third, it became an opportunity for Americans to sign treaties with Native Americans, so that settlers could expand westward. The second war of Independence ended British interference with American affairs and made the impression that the U.S. is a formidable force.