The War Of 1812


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.

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