War of 1812

Causes, Effects and Events

The War of 1812: U.S. History Review

Causes of the War

  • British impressment of US sailors. Impressment is the kidnapping of American sailors and forcing them to serve in the British Navy.
  • Shipping interference. Britain set up a blockade of the east coast preventing trade between America and any other nation. The blockade created a shortage of cotton cloth in the United States.
  • British supported and encouraged American Indian resistance against Americans in the Northwest Territory. They provided them with weapons and other means of support in hopes that the American Indians would remove settlers from the area.
  • War Hawks - these congressmen of the United States persuaded Congress and the president to support a declaration of war against Britain
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#1 The Battle of Tippecanoe

In 1811, Tecumseh, a Shawnee chief armed with British weapons, attacked General William Henry Harrison and his men. The Americans won, but the Warhawks (Congressman like Henry Clay) were furious at the British in Canada for supporting American Indian resistance against Americans in the Northwest Territory.
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#2 The Fight for the Great Lakes

The Fight for the Great Lakes – The war started in July 1812, when General William Hull led the American army from Detroit into Canada. Hull was met by Tecumseh and his warriors. Fearing a massacre by the American Indians, Hull surrendered Detroit to a small British force in August. Another attempt by General Harrison was unsuccessful as well. Harrison decided that the Americans could make no headway in Canada as long as the British controlled Lake Erie.
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#3 US invades Canada

Oliver Hazard Perry, commander of the Lake Erie naval forces, had his orders. He was to assemble a fleet and seize the lake from the British. In the bloody battle that followed, Perry and his ships defeated the British naval force. After the battle, Perry sent General Harrison the message “We have met the enemy and they are ours.”

With Lake Erie in American hands, the British and their American Indian allies tried to pull back from the Detroit area. Harrison and his troops cut them off. In the fierce Battle of the Thames on October 5, the great leader Tecumseh was killed. The Americans also attacked the town of York (present-day Toronto, Canada) burning the parliament buildings. Canada remained unconquered, but by the end of 1813 the Americans had won some victories on land and at sea.

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1812 War - The Battle at Baltimore

#4 Fort McHenry

During the night of September 13-14, a young attorney named Francis Scott Key watches as the bombs burst over Fort McHenry. Finally “by the dawn’s early light,” Key was able to see that the American flag still flew over the fort. Deeply moved by patriotic feeling, Key wrote a poem called “The Star-Spangled Banner”. In 1931, Congress designated it as the National Anthem.
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The Burning of Washington DC during the War of 1812

#5 Attack on Washington DC

In August 1814, the British sailed into Chesapeake Bay. Their destination was Washington, DC. On the outskirts of the city, the British troops quickly overpowered the American militia and then marched into the city. “They proceeded, without a moment’s delay, to burn and destroy everything in the most distant degree connected with government,” reported a British officer. The Capitol and the president’s mansion (the White House) were among the buildings burned. President Madison and his cabinet saw the night sky turn orange. Dolley Madison saved the Gilber Stuart portrait of George Washington from the White House. Fortunately a violent thunderstorm put out the fires before they could do more damage. August 24, 1814 was a low point for the Americans.
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#6 Battle of New Orleans

Negotiations for a peace treaty were begun late in 1814. Before word of the treaty had reached the United States, one final – and ferocious – battle occurred in New Orleans. On January 8, 1815, the British troops advanced. Their goal was to seize New Orleans and claim the newly purchase Louisiana Territory. The redcoats were no match for Andrew Jackson and his soldiers, who shot from behind bales of cotton. In a short but gruesome battle, hundreds of British soldiers were killed. At the battle, Americans achieved a decisive victory . Andrew Jackson became a hero and his fame helped him win the presidency in 1828.
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#7 The Treaty of Ghent

American and British representatives signed a peace agreement in December 1814 in Ghent, Belgium. The Treaty of Ghent did not change any existing borders. Relations with Britain were restored to a status as if the war had never happened.
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The War in a Nutshell

1. It was NAVAL warfare.

2. It began on the Great Lakes.

3. We invaded Canada!

4. The British attacked and invaded Washington, DC and burned the White House!

5. It ended at New Orleans.

6. Andrew Jackson was the war hero.

7. The war established the US as a country with an identity of being a powerful force.

8. No territory was gained or lost and there was no clear winner!

Effects of the War

  • The United States gained a measure of international respect for managing to withstand the British attack.
  • Improved the professionalism of the US Army.
  • The manufacturing capabilities of the US expanded. Since the blockade had caused a shortage of cotton cloth, the cotton-manufacturing industry was created. The United States had to rely on US made goods instead of imports.
  • Numerous manufacturing establishments (factories) were founded particularly in the North and the South was able to increase its agricultural economy. The United States industrially independent of Europe.
  • Improvements were made to transportation routes including the building of roads and canals. These provided for movement of goods.
  • Tariffs were placed on imported goods which helped to promote US manufacturing.