The War Of 1812 Essay, Research Paper
To many, the War of 1812 is considered
the second war for independence. To me, it is the one of the most
unusual wars of all time.
During a time period between 1803-1812
British sailors had been tormenting American ships on the high seas.
British captains would eventually take over and capture over 10,000 American
citizens to man British ships. In June of 1807, three miles off the
coast of Virginia, an American ship named the Chesapeake was commanded
by a British ship named the Leopard to be boarded. When the Chesapeake
refused to cooperate, the Leopard fired, killing three and wounding eighteen.
This humiliated the United States and its people. The anti-British
frame of mind was in full swing on the eve of the upcoming election.
In 1812, James Madison was elected President
of the United States. Aggressive southern frontiersman known as the
Warhawks dominated Congress. The group included Kentuckian Henry
Clay as Speaker of the house and South Carolinian John C. Calhoun.
These men and others rejected Thomas Jefferson?s strategy of peaceful coercion.
These speakers could ignite a crowd and stir up aggressiveness towards
the British. They would talk of the humiliation and how America shouldn?t
have to put up with it. They were pressuring Madison to do something.
Congress wanted Madison to invade Canada and attack the Indians who had
been tormenting homes on the frontier. Madison finally succumbed
to their wishes and declared war on the British June 1, 1812. The
timing of his actions seemed odd as over the last few months actions against
each country seemed to have been at ease. There had been no new attacks
on the high seas and at the time Madison called for war, British Government
was suspending the Orders in Council. This was an appeasing gesture
that in all likelihood would have preserved the peace.
Madison never really wanted the annexation
of Canada; he was merely pushed into the decision. There were three
attempts to invade Canada and they all failed. Toronto, the capital of
Canada was assaulted and burned to the ground in the Battle of York April
27, 1813. Two more attempts were made and the struggling United States
Army was pushed back. British naval ships blockaded all major ports
and no ships were allowed to leave or enter.
As successful as the British troops were
on land, the high seas belonged to the Americans. Captain Isaac Hull?s
ship, the Constitution won a major battle against the HMS Guerriere and
American privateers crushed or captured a number of British merchant ships.
On September 13,1813, Oliver Hazard Perry commanded a decisive American
naval victory at the Battle of Lake Erie. In October of that same
year, Indian Chief Tecumseh was killed at the Battle of Thames, a United
States victory. In March of 1814, Andrew Jackson scored a victory
at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend over the Creek Indians. By this time
the British were already tired of the war and it was costing them too much
As the threat of Napoleon decreased in
Europe, the British navy increased in size and power in North America.
The naval blockades in American ports became much stronger than they were
ever before. Sir George Prevost, commander of the British forces
hastily entered upper New York State; an American fleet headed by Captain
Thomas Macdonough was waiting to turn him back. The Battle of Plattsburgh
was an American victory and it secured a northern border between the two
Before the Battle of Plattsburgh, British
forces had already planned a three-part invasion into the United States.
They were amazed to see that the Chesapeake region, which they had tormented
throughout the war, was totally defenseless. The British invaded
and burned down the Capital and other Government buildings. In no
way were these actions essential to a British victory. They were
simply retaliation for Americans burning down the Canadian capital of Ontario.
The British were not impressed with the defenseless capital and wanted
more. On September 13,1814, British Naval ships began bombarding
Baltimore and Fort McHenry. For twenty-four hours Fort McHenry became
a theater of war. When the British finally gave up the maneuver,
Francis Scott Key wrote a song devoted to the perseverance of Fort McHenry
called The Star Spangled Banner. Today it is our National Anthem.
While a Peace treaty was being put together
in Europe, British troops were about to invade New Orleans in one of the
most bitter endings to one of the strangest wars of all time. The
War of 1812 was over and British troops were going into Battle one last
time. Andrew Jackson was the leader of the American forces in New
Orleans and his troops were well defended. Seven hundred British
troops were killed and over thirteen hundred were wounded. The entire British
force was routed. The Americans only suffered light casualties.
Andrew Jackson became a national hero and gave the United States a much-needed
sense of pride.
I think the War of 1812 was the turning
point in American independence. It marked the end of the United States
dependence on Great Britain and the Americans totally accepted it.
The War also contributed to the strengthening of Canada. In the end
the United States finally became its own nation.