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Causes of the 1812 War Essay

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Updated: May 6th, 2019

United States under the reign of President Madison declared war on Great Britain in the middle of June 1812. This war was the outcome of many situations experienced by the U.S. citizens including the Napoleonic Wars that involved a majority of the European nations in early 19th century.

The quest for eradication of impressments experienced by the U.S. seamen contributed immensely to the starting of the 1812 war. The British Navy was fond of seizing of seamen who could not identify themselves as Americans. In addition, the British Navy seized American’s cargoes and ships, acts that wounded the national honor of the U.S. government. (Benn & O’Neill, 2011).

In sum to the determination of Americans in eradicating the presence of the British in North America, their need and quest for expansion also contributed significantly to the rise of the 1812 war. For long the U.S. had the urge of confiscating Canada and making it one of its territories. However, the key catalyst of 1812 war was the boarding and enlisting of British Navy to the British sailors.

This British Navy had the intention of stopping the United States from participating in the international trade, an act that they succeeded in enacting. The participation of the U.S. in the international trade contributed significantly to the economy of the U.S.; therefore, their eradication from the trade by the British impaired the much profits the U.S. government incurred from the exchanges made with some countries such as France. (Benn & O’Neill, 2011).

In addition, in their expansion of the territories, the U.S. experienced strong resistance from the Indians an act that made them believe that Great Britain contributed enormously to Indian antagonism. The U.S. therefore decided to declare war against the British as a punishment for their causation of the obstacle towards meeting their goals of invading Indian lands.

Groups that opposed 1812 war

The 1812 war was subjected to too much opposition from the senators from New England, some New York representatives and the Republicans. Among the reasons that contributed to the Federalists opposition of 1812 war include the view of this war as party war aimed at increasing importance of the Republicans while at the same time, silencing the opposition by the Federalists. The Federalists also dreaded that participation in the war would result to the nation falling into the hands of the Napoleon, the greatest monster that cherished human suffering. (Hickey, 2012).

On the other side, the Protestants of this war from the New England feared collision of the U.S. with the French arguing that it would result to change of minds, morals, characters, and the religion of the entire U.S nation.

The federalists also opposed the war because they regarded it as offensive aiming at sanctioning Canada. According to the Federalists, the efforts of sanctioning Canada would result to more harm in the U.S. government compared to the benefits. For instance, this war would result to crippling of the U.S. economy, loss of the agricultural products due to destructions, and in addition, loss of the national peace experienced by the U.S. citizens. (Hickey, 2012).

The fear of the Federalists for the upcoming of the U.S. nation also contributed significantly to their opposition. For instance, the Federalist pacifist clergy stressed on the war being an expression of God’s anger. The clergy argued that God’s anger resulted from the corrupting manipulation of the citizens that made them evil posing an imbalance to the constitution of the republic in the future. (Hickey, 2012).

In sum, Federalists viewed the war as a pricey, fruitless, and adherent gamble that was possibly going to produce slight goodness and to a considerable extent evil. Therefore, majority of the Federalists agreed in opposing it as the solution to the conflicts that existed. On the other hand, the Massachusetts opposed the war because they feared losing their pocketbooks. This is because; in the Massachusetts trading activity with the British they made vast sums of money.

Groups that supported the 1812 war

The war of 1812 received the least support from the majority of the U.S. movements due to fear of the outcome. However, some groups of War Hawks with support from the West and the South supported the war. In addition to the War Hawks having the goal of invading Canada and making it part of the U.S., they also felt infringed by the Great British hence made much effort in gearing the war. (Heidler, J. & Heidler, D. 2004).

The Shawnee, a group of Indians that were great British allies is well known for its participation in the 1812 war. From early 1800s, the Shawnee under the leadership of Tecumseh quested for recognition from the U.S. as a nation with the potentials like any other country.

Failure of the U.S. recognizing the Indians and their nation led to the opposition fights from Shawnee with support from the Great British. In 1812, the togetherness that had developed between the British and the Indians led to the Shawnee fighting in collision with the British Navy against the Americans leading to their success. (Heidler, J. & Heidler, D. 2004).

In conclusion, despite much efforts imposed by the U.S. into the 1812 war they eventually failed due to d ifferences that existed among the movements within the U.S. Majority of the Federalists opposed the war because they saw it as an involving in a losing war that would result to crippling of the economy of the U.S. in addition, the support provided by the Shawnee to the British contributed to the defeat of the Americans in 1812 war.


Benn, C. & O’Neill, R. (2011). The War of 1812: The Fight for American Trade Rights. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group.

Heidler, J. & Heidler, D. (2004). Encyclopedia of the War of 1812. Garden York: Naval Institute Press.

Hickey, D. (2012). The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict. New York: University of Illinois Press.

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