Origins of the War of 1812

Origins of the War of 1812

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The War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

, between the United States of America
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 (particularly Great Britain
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

 and British North America
British North America
British North America is a historical term. It consisted of the colonies and territories of the British Empire in continental North America after the end of the American Revolutionary War and the recognition of American independence in 1783.At the start of the Revolutionary War in 1775 the British...

), and Britain's Indian allies, lasted from 1812 to 1815. It was fought chiefly on the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 and on the land, coasts and waterways of North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

.

There were several immediate stated causes for the U.S. declaration of war: first, a series of trade restrictions introduced by Britain to impede American trade with France
First French Empire
The First French Empire , also known as the Greater French Empire or Napoleonic Empire, was the empire of Napoleon I of France...

, a country with which Britain was at war (the U.S. contested these restrictions as illegal under international law); second, the impressment
Impressment
Impressment, colloquially, "the Press", was the act of taking men into a navy by force and without notice. It was used by the Royal Navy, beginning in 1664 and during the 18th and early 19th centuries, in wartime, as a means of crewing warships, although legal sanction for the practice goes back to...

 (forced recruitment) of U.S. seamen into the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

; third, the British military support for American Indians
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 who were offering armed resistance to the expansion of the American frontier to the Northwest. An implicit but powerful motivation for the Americans was the desire to uphold national honor in the face of what they considered to be British insults (such as the Chesapeake affair).

American expansion into the Northwest (Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin) was impeded by Indian raids. Some Canadian historians in the early 20th century maintained that Americans had wanted to seize parts of Canada, a view that many Canadians still share, while others argue that inducing the fear of such a seizure had merely been a U.S. tactic designed to obtain a bargaining chip. Some members of the British Parliament at the time and dissident American politicians such as John Randolph of Roanoke
John Randolph of Roanoke
John Randolph , known as John Randolph of Roanoke, was a planter and a Congressman from Virginia, serving in the House of Representatives , the Senate , and also as Minister to Russia...

 claimed that land hunger rather than maritime disputes was the main motivation for the American declaration. Although the British made some concessions before the war on neutral trade, they insisted on the right to reclaim their deserting sailors. The British also had the long-standing goal of creating a large "neutral" Indian state that would cover much of Ohio, Indiana and Michigan. They made the demand as late as 1814 at the peace conference, but lost battles that would have validated their claims.

The war was fought in four theatres: on the oceans, where the warships and privateers of both sides preyed on each other's merchant shipping; along the Atlantic coast of the U.S., which was blockaded with increasing severity by the British, who also mounted large-scale raids in the later stages of the war; on the long frontier, running along the Great Lakes
Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...

 and Saint Lawrence River
Saint Lawrence River
The Saint Lawrence is a large river flowing approximately from southwest to northeast in the middle latitudes of North America, connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean. It is the primary drainage conveyor of the Great Lakes Basin...

, which separated the U.S. from Upper
Upper Canada
The Province of Upper Canada was a political division in British Canada established in 1791 by the British Empire to govern the central third of the lands in British North America and to accommodate Loyalist refugees from the United States of America after the American Revolution...

 and Lower Canada
Lower Canada
The Province of Lower Canada was a British colony on the lower Saint Lawrence River and the shores of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence...

 (Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

 and Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

); and finally along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. During the course of the war, both the Americans and British launched invasions of each other's territory, all of which were unsuccessful or gained only temporary success. At the end of the war, the British held parts of Maine
Battle of Hampden
The Battle of Hampden, though a minor action of the War of 1812, was the last significant clash of arms in New England, in this instance, in the District of Maine . It represented the end of two centuries of violent contest over Maine by surrounding political units...

 and some outposts in the sparsely populated West while the Americans held Canadian territory near Detroit, but these occupied territories were restored at the end of the war.

In the United States, battles such as New Orleans
Battle of New Orleans
The Battle of New Orleans took place on January 8, 1815 and was the final major battle of the War of 1812. American forces, commanded by Major General Andrew Jackson, defeated an invading British Army intent on seizing New Orleans and the vast territory the United States had acquired with the...

 and the earlier successful defence of Baltimore
Battle of Baltimore
The Battle of Baltimore was a combined sea/land battle fought between British and American forces in the War of 1812. It was one of the turning points of the war as American forces repulsed sea and land invasions of the busy port city of Baltimore, Maryland, and killed the commander of the invading...

 (which inspired the lyrics of the U.S. national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner
The Star-Spangled Banner
"The Star-Spangled Banner" is the national anthem of the United States of America. The lyrics come from "Defence of Fort McHenry", a poem written in 1814 by the 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet, Francis Scott Key, after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy ships...

) produced a sense of euphoria over a "second war of independence" against Britain. It ushered in an "Era of Good Feelings
Era of Good Feelings
The Era of Good Feelings was a period in United States political history in which partisan bitterness abated. It lasted approximately from 1815 to 1825, during the administration of U.S...

," in which the partisan animosity that had once verged on treason practically vanished. Canada also emerged from the war with a heightened sense of national feeling and solidarity. Britain, which had regarded the war as a sideshow to the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

 raging in Europe, was less affected by the fighting; its government and people subsequently welcomed an era of peaceful relations with the United States.

British goals


The British were engaged in a life-and-death war with Napoleon and could not allow the Americans to help the enemy, regardless of their lawful neutral rights to do so. As Horsman explains, "If possible, England wished to avoid
war with America, but not to the extent of allowing her to hinder
the British war effort against France. Moreover...a large section of influential British opinion, both in the government and in the country, thought that America presented a threat to British maritime supremacy."

The British had two goals: all parties were committed to the defeat of France, and this required sailors (hence the need for impressment), and it required all-out commercial war against France (hence the restrictions imposed on American merchant ships). On the question of trade with America the British parties split. As Horsman argues, "Some restrictions on neutral commerce were essential for England in this period. That this restriction took such an extreme form after 1807 stemmed not only from the effort to defeat Napoleon, but also from the undoubted jealousy of America's commercial prosperity that existed in England. America was unfortunate in that for most of the period from 1803 to 1812 political power in England was held by a group
that was pledged not only to the defeat of France, but also to a
rigid maintenance of Britain's commercial supremacy." That group was weakened by Whigs friendly to the U.S. in mid-1812 and the policies were reversed, but too late for the U.S. had already declared war. By 1815 Britain was no longer controlled by politicians dedicated to commercial supremacy, so that cause had vanished.

The British were hindered by weak diplomats in Washington (such as David Erskine
David Erskine, 2nd Baron Erskine
David Montagu Erskine, 2nd Baron Erskine was a British diplomat and politician.-Background and education:...

) who misrepresented British policy and by communications that were so slow the Americans did not learn of the reversal of policy until they had declared war.

When Americans proposed a truce based on British ending impressment, Britain refused, because it needed those sailors. Horsman explains, "Impressment, which was the main point of contention between England and America from 1803 to 1807, was made necessary primarily because of England's great shortage of seamen for the war against Napoleon. In a similar manner the restrictions on American commerce imposed by England's Orders in Council, which were the supreme cause of complaint between 1807 and 1812, were one part of a vast commercial struggle being waged between England and France."

The British also had the long-standing goal of creating a large "neutral" Indian state that would cover much of Ohio, Indiana and Michigan. They made the demand as late as 1814 at the peace conference, but lost the battles that would have validated their claims.

American goals


There were several immediate stated causes for the U.S. declaration of war. First, a series of trade restrictions introduced by Britain to impede American trade with France
First French Empire
The First French Empire , also known as the Greater French Empire or Napoleonic Empire, was the empire of Napoleon I of France...

, a country with which Britain was at war; the U.S. contested these restrictions as illegal under international law. Second, the impressment
Impressment
Impressment, colloquially, "the Press", was the act of taking men into a navy by force and without notice. It was used by the Royal Navy, beginning in 1664 and during the 18th and early 19th centuries, in wartime, as a means of crewing warships, although legal sanction for the practice goes back to...

 (forced recruitment) of U.S. citizens into the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

. Third, the alleged British military support for American Indians
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 who were offering armed resistance to the United States. An unstated but powerful motivation for the Americans was the need to uphold national honor in the face of British insults (such as the Chesapeake affair.)

British support for Indian raids


Indians based in the Northwest Territory
Northwest Territory
The Territory Northwest of the River Ohio, more commonly known as the Northwest Territory, was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from July 13, 1787, until March 1, 1803, when the southeastern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the state of Ohio...

, comprising the modern states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, had organized in opposition to American settlement, and were being supplied with weapons by British traders in Canada. Britain was not trying to provoke a war, and at one point cut its allocations of gunpowder to the tribes, but it was trying to build up its fur trade and friendly relations with potential military allies.. Although Britain had ceded the area to the United States in the Treaty of Paris
Treaty of Paris (1783)
The Treaty of Paris, signed on September 3, 1783, ended the American Revolutionary War between Great Britain on the one hand and the United States of America and its allies on the other. The other combatant nations, France, Spain and the Dutch Republic had separate agreements; for details of...

 in 1783, it had the long-term goal of creating a "neutral" or buffer Indian state in the area that would block further American growth. The Indian nations generally followed Tenskwatawa
Tenskwatawa
Tenskwatawa, was a Native American religious and political leader of the Shawnee tribe, known as The Prophet or the Shawnee Prophet. He was the brother of Tecumseh, leader of the Shawnee...

 (the Shawnee Prophet and the brother of Tecumseh
Tecumseh
Tecumseh was a Native American leader of the Shawnee and a large tribal confederacy which opposed the United States during Tecumseh's War and the War of 1812...

, who since 1805 had preached his vision of purifying his society by expelling the "children of the Evil Spirit" (the American settlers). Raiding grew more common in 1810 and 1811; Westerners in Congress found the raids intolerable and wanted them permanently ended.

American expansionism


Historians have considered the idea that American expansionism was one cause of the war. The American expansion into the Northwest was being blocked by Indians and that was a major cause. More problematic is the question whether an American war goal was to acquire Canadian lands (especially western Ontario), or whether it was planned to seize the area temporarily as a bargaining chip. The American desire for Canadian land is a staple in Canadian public opinion since the 1830s, and was much discussed among historians before 1940, but is rarely cited by experts any more. Some Canadian historians propounded the notion in the early 20th century, and it survives among Canadians.
Madison and his advisors believed that conquest of Canada would be easy and that economic coercion would force the British to come to terms by cutting off the food supply for their West Indies colonies. Furthermore, possession of Canada would be a valuable bargaining chip. Frontiersmen demanded the seizure of Canada not because they wanted the land (they had plenty), but because the British were thought to be arming the Indians and thereby blocking settlement of the west. As Horsman concludes, "The idea of conquering Canada had been present since at least 1807 as a means of forcing England to change her policy at sea. The conquest of Canada was primarily a means of waging war, not a reason for starting it." Hickey flatly states, "The desire to annex Canada did not bring on the war." Brown (1964) concludes, "The purpose of the Canadian expedition was to serve negotiation not to annex Canada." Burt, a leading Canadian scholar, agrees completely, noting that Foster, the British minister to Washington, also rejected the argument that annexation of Canada was a war goal.

The majority of the inhabitants of Upper Canada
Upper Canada
The Province of Upper Canada was a political division in British Canada established in 1791 by the British Empire to govern the central third of the lands in British North America and to accommodate Loyalist refugees from the United States of America after the American Revolution...

 (Ontario) were Americans, some of them exiled (United Empire Loyalists) and most of them recent immigrants. The Loyalists were hostile to union with the U.S., while the other settlers seem to have been uninterested and remained neutral during the war. The Canadian colonies were thinly populated and only lightly defended by the British Army, and some Americans believed that the many in Upper Canada would rise up and greet an American invading army as liberators. The combination implied an easy conquest, as former president Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 suggested in 1812, "the acquisition of Canada this year, as far as the neighborhood of Quebec, will be a mere matter of marching, and will give us the experience for the attack on Halifax, the next and final expulsion of England from the American continent."

Violations of American rights


The long wars between Britain and France (1793–1815) led to repeated complaints by the U.S. that both powers violated America's right as a neutral to trade with both sides. Furthermore Americans complained loudly that British agents in Canada were supplying munitions to hostile Native American
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 tribes living in United States territory.

Starting in the mid 1790s the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

, short of manpower, began boarding American merchant ships in order to seize American and British sailors from American vessels. Although this policy of impressment
Impressment
Impressment, colloquially, "the Press", was the act of taking men into a navy by force and without notice. It was used by the Royal Navy, beginning in 1664 and during the 18th and early 19th centuries, in wartime, as a means of crewing warships, although legal sanction for the practice goes back to...

 was supposed to reclaim only British subjects, Britain did not recognize naturalized American citizenship, often taking seamen who had been born British subjects but later issued American citizenship certificates. The British believed many of the certificates were invalid. In any case they needed sailors so between 1806 and 1812 about 6,000 seamen were impressed and taken against their will into the Royal Navy. The proposed Monroe-Pinkney Treaty
Monroe-Pinkney Treaty
The Monroe–Pinkney Treaty of 1806 was a treaty drawn up by diplomats of the United States and Britain as a renewal of the Jay Treaty of 1795. It was rejected by President Thomas Jefferson and never took effect...

 (1806) between the U.S. and Britain was rejected by Jefferson and never ratified because it did not end impressment.

American economic motivations


The failure of Jefferson's embargo and Madison's economic coercion, according to Horsman, "made war or absolute submission to England the only alternatives, and the latter presented more terrors to the recent colonists. The war hawks came from the West and the South, regions that had supported economic warfare and were suffering the most from British restrictions at sea. The merchants of New England earned large profits from the wartime carrying trade, in spite of the numerous captures by both France and England, but the western and southern farmers, who looked longingly at the export market, were suffering a depression that made them demand war.

Incidents leading up to the war


This dispute came to the forefront with the Chesapeake-Leopard Affair of 1807, when the British warship HMS Leopard fired on and boarded the American warship USS Chesapeake, killing three and carrying off four deserters from the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

. (Only one was a British citizen and he was subsequently hanged; the other three were American citizens and were later returned, though the last two not until 1812.) The American public was outraged by the incident, and many called for war in order to assert American sovereignty and national honor.

The Chesapeake-Leopard Affair followed closely on the similar Leander Affair, which had resulted in President Jefferson banning certain British warships and their captains from American ports and waters. Whether in response to this incident or the Chesapeake-Leopard Affair, President Jefferson banned all foreign armed vessels from American waters, except those bearing dispatches. In December 1808, an American officer expelled the schooner HMS Sandwich
HMS Pitt (1805)
HMS Pitt was the mercantile William and Mary, which the Admiralty bought in 1805. She served briefly on the Jamaica station during the Napoleonic Wars. She participated in one notable single-ship action in which she prevailed, and captured several other vessels...

 from Savannah, Georgia, after she had entered with dispatches for the British Consul there.

Meanwhile, Napoleon's Continental System
Continental System
The Continental System or Continental Blockade was the foreign policy of Napoleon I of France in his struggle against the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland during the Napoleonic Wars. It was a large-scale embargo against British trade, which began on November 21, 1806...

 (beginning 1806) and the British Orders in Council (1807)
Orders in Council (1807)
The Orders in Council were a series of legislative decrees made by the United Kingdom in the course of the wars with Napoleonic France which instituted its policy of commercial warfare. Formally, an "Order in Council" is simply the type of legislation by which the British government decreed these...

 established embargoes that made international trade precarious. From 1807 to 1812, about 900 American ships were seized as a result. The U.S. responded with the Embargo Act of 1807
Embargo Act of 1807
The Embargo Act of 1807 and the subsequent Nonintercourse Acts were American laws restricting American ships from engaging in foreign trade between the years of 1807 and 1812. The Acts were diplomatic responses by presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison designed to protect American interests...

, which prohibited American ships from sailing to any foreign ports and closed American ports to British ships. Jefferson's embargo was especially unpopular in New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

, where merchants preferred the indignities of impressment to the halting of overseas commerce. This discontent contributed to the calling of the Hartford Convention
Hartford Convention
The Hartford Convention was an event spanning from December 15, 1814–January 4, 1815 in the United States during the War of 1812 in which New England's opposition to the war reached the point where secession from the United States was discussed...

 in 1814.

The Embargo Act had no effect on Great Britain and France and was replaced by the Non-Intercourse Act of 1809
Non-Intercourse Act
In the last four days of President Thomas Jefferson's presidency, the United States Congress replaced the Embargo Act of 1807 with the almost unenforceable Non-Intercourse Act of March 1809. This Act lifted all embargoes on American shipping except for those bound for British or French ports. The...

, which lifted all embargoes on American shipping except for those bound for British or French ports. As this proved to be unenforceable, the Non-Intercourse Act was replaced in 1810 by Macon's Bill Number 2
Macon's Bill Number 2
Macon's Bill Number 2, which became law in the United States on May 1, 1810, was intended to motivate Britain and France to stop seizing American vessels during the Napoleonic Wars. This bill was a revision of the original bill by Representative Nathaniel Macon, known as Macon's Bill Number 1. The...

. This lifted all embargoes but offered that if either France or Great Britain were to cease their interference with American shipping, the United States would reinstate an embargo on the other nation. Napoleon, seeing an opportunity to make trouble for Great Britain, promised to leave American ships alone, and the United States reinstated the embargo with Great Britain and moved closer to declaring war.

Exacerbating the situation, Sauk Indians who controlled trade on the Upper Mississippi were displeased with the U.S. Government after the 1804 treaty between Quashquame
Quashquame
Quashquame was a Sauk chief; he was the principal signer of the 1804 treaty that ceded Sauk land to the United States government...

 and William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison was the ninth President of the United States , an American military officer and politician, and the first president to die in office. He was 68 years, 23 days old when elected, the oldest president elected until Ronald Reagan in 1980, and last President to be born before the...

. This treaty ceded Sauk territory in Illinois and Missouri to the U.S.; the Sauk felt this treaty was unjust, that Quashquame was unauthorized to sign away land, and that he was unaware of what he was signing. The establishment of Fort Madison in 1808 on the Mississippi further aggravated the Sauk, and led many, including Black Hawk
Black Hawk (chief)
Black Hawk was a leader and warrior of the Sauk American Indian tribe in what is now the United States. Although he had inherited an important historic medicine bundle, he was not one of the Sauk's hereditary civil chiefs...

, to side with the British before the war broke out. Sauk and allied Indians, including the Ho-Chunk
Ho-Chunk
The Ho-Chunk, also known as Winnebago, are a tribe of Native Americans, native to what is now Wisconsin and Illinois. There are two federally recognized Ho-Chunk tribes, the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin and Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska....

 (Winnebago), were very effective fighters for the British on the Mississippi, helping to defeat Fort Madison and Fort McKay in Prairie du Chien.

Declaration of war


In the United States House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

, a group of young Democratic-Republicans
Democratic-Republican Party (United States)
The Democratic-Republican Party or Republican Party was an American political party founded in the early 1790s by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Political scientists use the former name, while historians prefer the latter one; contemporaries generally called the party the "Republicans", along...

 known as the "War Hawk
War Hawk
War Hawk is a term originally used to describe members of the Twelfth Congress of the United States who advocated waging war against the British in the War of 1812...

s" came to the forefront in 1811, led by Speaker of the House Henry Clay
Henry Clay
Henry Clay, Sr. , was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky separately in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives...

 of Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

 and John C. Calhoun
John C. Calhoun
John Caldwell Calhoun was a leading politician and political theorist from South Carolina during the first half of the 19th century. Calhoun eloquently spoke out on every issue of his day, but often changed positions. Calhoun began his political career as a nationalist, modernizer, and proponent...

 of South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

. The War Hawks advocated going to war against Great Britain for all of the reasons listed above, though concentrating on the grievances more than the territorial expansion.

On June 1, 1812, President James Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

 gave a speech to the U.S. Congress, recounting American grievances against Great Britain, though not specifically calling for a declaration of war. After Madison's speech, the House of Representatives quickly voted (79 to 49) to declare war, and the Senate by 19 to 13. The conflict formally began on June 18, 1812 when Madison signed the measure into law. This was the first time that the United States had declared war on another nation, and the Congressional vote would prove to be the closest vote to declare war in American history. None of the 39 Federalist
Federalist Party (United States)
The Federalist Party was the first American political party, from the early 1790s to 1816, the era of the First Party System, with remnants lasting into the 1820s. The Federalists controlled the federal government until 1801...

s in Congress voted in favor of the war; critics of war subsequently referred to it as "Mr. Madison's War."

See also

  • Chronology of the War of 1812
    Chronology of the War of 1812
    -Origins:-1812:-1813:-1814:-1815:-External links:********...

  • Opposition to the War of 1812
  • Results of the War of 1812
    Results of the War of 1812
    Results of the war between Britain and the United States involved no geographical changes, and no major policy changes. However all the causes of the war had disappeared with the end of the war between Britain and France and with the destruction of the power of First Nation Indian tribes. American...

  • War of 1812
    War of 1812
    The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

  • War of 1812 bibliography

External links