The War of 1812 was a bloody conflict that was fought between the meager forces of the U.S. and the supreme power of Great Britain and being the Second American War for Independence, it goes down in history as it will not be forgotten. The war was fought from June 1812 and it climaxed in the spring of 1815 with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent, although the battle failed to solve the issues that had made it to take place.
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The mainland battle during the warfare took place along the Canadian border. In addition, the opposing forces also engaged in extensive actions at the sea. Since the U.S. decided to enter the war with confused goals and divided allegiances, these failures have made the war to be sometimes called “America’s worst-fought war.”
The U.S. instigated the war on the supreme British Empire because of a number of reasons. First, there was growing trade tensions between the U.S. and Britain. Before the war, Britain had established a number of trade restrictions that prevented the U.S. from trading with other countries.
Therefore, the United States challenged these trade limitations as not valid according to the international law. Second, the Americans were addressing their grievances about the continuing impressment of their sailors into the British Navy for manning its ships (Raatma, 6). The U.S. saw that the seizure of its sailors as well as the unwarranted search of its merchant ships contravened its national sovereignty and denied it its ability to control its territorial waters.
Another reason was that the British Empire was thwarting America’s intentions of expansion in the Northwest Territory by giving military assistance to the Native Americans who were confronting the American settlers who had moved to the Northwestern region. This action by Britain further escalated the tensions. Lastly, some historians believe that the U.S. still had some degree of resentment from the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars, which they were enthusiastic of taking out on the Great Britain.
Even though the occurrence of the conflict had been preceded by bitter diplomatic disagreements, neither the Americans nor the British had adequate preparations for it. A significant section of the British forces was engaged in other wars elsewhere (Turner, 33). On the other hand, the U.S. was inadequately prepared for the war. The government presumed that the state militias could gain easy victory in Canada and there was no adequate funding for the war.
On July 12, 1812, General William Hull, leading a troop of about one thousand inadequately equipped militia, crossed the Detroit River and assumed the control of the Canadian town of Sandwitch, and about two months later, Hull’s men returned to Detroit and surrendered to British-friendly forces, which cost the U.S. the village of Detroit and most of the Michigan territory.
The conflict involved a show of naval strength. In 1813, the United States forces prevailed in the Battle of Lake Erie in which they took charge of the waters there. Consequently, they interrupted British and native troops in the west from accessing their supplies located in the area. At the Battle of Thames in October 1813, American militia, led by General William Harrison, became triumphant and Tucumseh, the leader of the Native American troops, was murdered which led to the breakdown of his forces.
Another significant event in the war was the “Burning of Washington” by the British forces that led to the sacking of the US Secretary of War. After two years of conflicts, the main reasons for the war had disappeared as neither side had a reason to continue fighting; therefore, this stalemate led to the signing of the Treaty of Ghent on December 24, 1814 that ended the war two months later (Benn, 81).
The War of 1812 had a significant impact on the United States. During the war, the powerful Royal Navy had prevented the U.S. from trading with other countries by blocking much of the coastline. Consequently, since the U.S. could no longer export most of its agricultural products, this assisted in stimulating the establishment of local manufacturing plants.
Before the war, there was division in the U.S. and even in Canada. However, the war helped in uniting the residents of the U.S. as well as the residents of Canada in working together towards the fulfillment of their goals as a nation. The ratification of the treaty that ended the war made Britain to lift its trade restrictions that it had placed on the U.S. In addition, the British Empire no longer seized U.S. sailors.
The Americans won the Battle of New Orleans in January 1815 and this assisted in restoring the American sense of honor among other nations of the world. It made the U.S. to gain respect from other nations. The conflict also validated the fact that the U.S. could be able to stand alone away from European interferences. Notable impact of the war is that it established a long era of peaceful foreign relations between the U.S. and the Great Britain.
Benn, Carl. The war of 1812. Oxford: Osprey, 2002. Print.
Raatma, Lucia. The war of 1812. Minneapolis, Minn.: Compass Point Books, 2005. Print.
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Turner, Wesley B. The War of 1812: the war that both sides won. Toronto, Ont.; Tonawanda, N.Y.: Dundurn Press, 2000. Print.