The War of 1812 started on June 18, 1812 and lasted for about three years, ending on March 23, 1815. The war was initiated by the United States of America and was fought against the British Empire and the Canadian Provincial Army. There were also many tribes who joined in and supported the British.
Causes of the War of 1812
There are multiple causes for the outbreak of the War of 1812. The first and the most primary reason was the presence and interference of the British in North America. Following the events of American revolution, also known as the American War of Independence, the United States of America became an independent nation, but the British Empire did not withdraw. Hence, tension still prevailed between the US and Great Britain.
Another reason for the outbreak of this war was constant conflicts between the Amerindians and the United States of America. The Amerindians sided with the British in the war as the British were willing to grant the Indians their separate nation. Another very important cause that triggered the war was the conflicting trade policies between the French, British and the Americans.
Conflicting Trade Policies
The conflicting trade policies between the three nations (France, Britain and the United States of America) was a result of the expansion carried out by Napoleon in Europe. In November 1806, Napoleon passed a law that banned any British ship from entering the ports under his control. The British countered this policy by passing several orders in their council.
According to these orders, all ships entering a British port required a trading license. Napoleon again countered the British by banning any neutral ship that had entered a British port from entering a port under his control.
These policies put the economy of the United States of America in a fix because it relied mainly on the trade with Europe. The government of the United States also had maintained very good contacts with the high-ranking French government officials.
Another policy that frustrated the United States was that the British would take over any American ship on which there were British sailors working. According to this policy, the British Government took over about four hundred American vessels by the end of 1812.
The War Hawks
The War Hawks was a group of elected representatives led by Henry Clay in the Twelfth Congress of the United States of America. The War Hawks were members of the House of Representatives who insisted that the United States of America wage a war against the British Empire to put an end to the continuous direct and indirect conflicts with the British.
Facts about the War of 1812
The generals that led the United States forces were James Madison, Henry Dearborn, Jacob Brown, Winfield Scott and Andrew Jackson. The US army consisted of 7000 personnel, including 3049 rangers at the start of the war. The US navy had 6 freights and 14 vessels.
Meanwhile, the 5200 strong British forces were commanded by Sir George Prevost, Sir Isaac Brock, Sir Roger Sheaffe and Sir Gordon Drummond. The British used over 11 ships, 34 frigates and 52 vessels.
In addition, the British were accompanied by the Alliance of Amerindian Tecumseh. The United States had formed an alliance with the Choctaw. They also appointed many regional militia soldiers.
Though, the war compromised many small skirmishes, invasions and conflicts; however, none of them were entirely successful and did not have permanent results. The only concrete result of the war was the Treaty of Ghent which was signed on December 24, 1814 between the United States of America and the British Empire. According to the treaty, all prisoners taken by both sides were released, and nearly 10,000,000 acres of land around Lake Superior and Michigan was handed over to the United States.
The Britishers also promised to make a neutral territory for the Indians in Ohio and Michigan. However, this plan was abandoned because the coalition dissolved. Besides this, they promised to free the slaves that were captured by them, though after a few years a sum of 250,000 pounds was paid instead.
The treaty was signed on December 24, 1814. However, due to the slow communication process, it took weeks for the message to get across. During this time, in spite of the signing a treaty, the Battle of New Orleans took place.
The War of 1812 altered the military policies of the United States. They also stopped their campaigns against the Amerindians and made an effort to make them regular citizens. The United States started expanding its military strength after the War of 1812, as they realized that it was not as capable as the European powers. The war did not alter the political or economical boundaries of the world; however, it was a landmark as it reshaped North America.