Of all the military conflicts which occurred in the USA over its long and glorious history, there is hardly a single one which could be as lacking in practical results and, weirdly enough, triggering as many consequences as the famous 1812 war. Leading to a numerous alterations in the sphere of the international relationships between the United States and the rest of the world, the 1812 war heralded a new era in the development of the USA and spawned the surge of the nationalism in 1820ies.
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It can be suggested that the Treaty was only the catalyst of the process which has been brewing for quite long within the country. As O’Neill and Benn explain, the expansion process triggered by the discord on the Ghent Treaty conditions was welcomed with open arms by most of the USA population; with a vast majority supporting the expansion, the process was irreversible: “Many Americans supported the expansion; for some, the expulsion of Britain from the continent represented a natural step in achieving the republic’s destiny” (O’Neill & Benn, 2011, 14).
Finally, the fact that the American Treasury was on the brink of its bankruptcy must be taken into account. After the war, which demanded considerable amount of financial and human resources, the country needed financial support badly, yet the only gateway to acquiring decent help, i.e., trading with the other countries and raising the financial state of affairs within the country, was blocked by the dominant British Empire.
As Snow & Drew (2010) explain, “paying for war threatened to bankrupt the treasury by 1814, American overseas trade was reduced by a trickle by the Royal Navy’s blockade, and the combination of these economic factors produced runaway inflation” (267).
Thus, the final and the most important cause of the expansion reveals itself. Because of the unceasing control of Britain, the U. S. could not trade efficiently and get the maximum profit out of the international relationships, which spurred the further expansion. Therefore, the expansion of the United States was caused by such reasons as the post-war devastation, the British dominance and the unsatisfactory results of the Ghent Treaty.
Hence roots another issue worth considerations – the infamous panic of the 1819. Enhanced by the recognition of the U. S. failure to grow financially and improve the post-war state of affairs, the fear of poverty and devastation gripped the United States.
However, it was not only the overreaction caused by the post-war shock that enhanced the notorious panic of the 1819. According to what Rothbard (2007) says, the state of the USA economy and banking did leave much to be desired and could be used as the grounds for serious concern. To be more precise, it was the monetary system which failed to meet the demands set by the global standards:
The monetary system of the country was not highly developed. The banks, outside of New England at least, were confined almost exclusively to the cities. Their methods tended to be lax; government control was negligible; and the fact that most banks within and between states. (Rothbard, 2007, 2)
Therefore, there were sufficient reasons for the panic in 1819, mainly because the monetary system did not meet the standards of Europe. Breaking the block which the British Empire set for the United States, the latter did not expect to encounter the numerous problems which spawned from the imperfect American financial and economical system.
Finally, addressing the surge of nationalism after the1812 war, one can possibly claim that it was the combination of the above-mentioned issues which caused the latter. Freeing the country form the influence of the British Empire, gaining sufficient amount of freedom and recognizing the problems which the freedom triggers, the USA population finally regained its identity.
However, it must be mentioned that the process of developing nationalist ideas in the USA of the post-war era was far from being subconscious. Understanding the power which nationalism gave, the USA political forces enhanced the latter considerably:
The economic program adopted by Congress, including a new national bank and a protective tariff, reflected the growing feeling of national unity. The U. S. Supreme Court also promoted the spirit of nationalism by establishing the principle of federal supremacy. (Davis & Mintz, 2000, 342)
Thus, it is obvious that the reasons for the changes which followed the war of 1812 and changed the political and economical state of the USA were caused not by the war itself, but by the results of the Treaty which ended the war and emphasized every single weakness of the then USA.
Revealing the drawbacks in the political and economical state of the country, the Ghent Treaty spurred the post war expansion, allowing the United States to overcome the barriers set by the British Empire and make trade with the rest of the world possible without a superior intermediary. Achieved at the cost of their stability, relevant economical and financial freedom was worth the consequences.
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Davis, D. B., & Mintz, S. (2000). The boisterous sea of liberty: A documentary history of America from discovery through the Civil War. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
O’Neill, R., & Benn, C. (2011). The war of 1812: The fight for American trade rights. New York, NY: Rosen Publishing Group.
Snow, D. M., & Drew, D. M. (2010). From Lexington to Baghdad and beyond: War and politics in the American experience. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe.
Rothbard, M. N. (2007). The panic of 1819: Reactions and policies. Auburn, AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute.