Fought between June 18, 2012, and February 17, 1815, the War of 1812 was a battle between the United States and one of the world’s greatest naval power, Great Britain. The conflict caused the United States costly losses, including the capture and subsequent torching down of its capital, Washington D.C., in 1814. The war ended with the ratification of the Treaty of Ghent in 1815. Various issues between Britain and America, including trade, imprisonment of American sailors, and Indians attack in Canada, caused the war, and the event resulted in the ratification of the Treaty of Ghent and nationalism among Americans among other consequences.
Britain’s interference with America’s trade during the Napoleonic wars is considered as one of the major causes of the war of 1812. The Great Britain intended to gain control of neutral shipping merchants by issuing series of Acts of Parliament referred to as British Orders in Council (Springer). As a strategy during the Napoleonic wars, both France and Britain tried to prevent other countries, including the United States, from undertaking trade activities with the other to deprive them of essential supplies. For example, they set up a naval blockade to prevent the U.S. from supplying France, thus, aggrieving the U.S.
Another major cause of the war was the impressment of American sailors by Britain. Between 1803 and 1812, the British Navy is reported to have kidnapped between 5,000 and 9,000 American Sailors and forced them to work in British Naval ships. These impressments caused public outrage in the U.S, forcing the United States to retaliate, thus, leading to the war (Deeben). In a message delivered to the Congress on June 1, 1812 by President James Madison, impressment was highlighted as a major grievance against Great Britain by the United States.
The British-instigated Indian attacks in Canada were also a major cause of the War of 1812. Most Americans held the idea that the British pushed Native Americans to fight American settlers. For example, the British were accused of supplying Indians in the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley with weapons to fight American Settlers (Springer). Consequently, some Americans politicians, such as Thomas Jefferson opined that conquering Canada and subsequently expelling the British from the American frontier was a major step in ending the rising Indian Attacks.
The war boosted the manufacturing trade, and the intense sense of nationalism that resulted from the war led to an era of general ‘good feeling’ among the Americans. Consequently, Americans belief in their country’s ability to prosper and survive in hard times was boosted immensely. Since the country was able to defend itself against the greatest military power of the time, Americans felt that their nation was in the right course towards building a successful and prosperous nation (Springer). As a result of the interruption of trade, Americans were forced to make things that they initially imported from trade partners. Consequently, the manufacturing sector in the United States was boosted.
Another key consequence of the War of 1812 was the ratification of the Treaty of Ghent, which terminated the conflict. As per the agreement, Canada was left in the hands of Britain. Nevertheless, Canada, the major battleground for the war, was left in a devastated state, with thousands of lives sacrificed and many homes made desolate.
Andrew Jackson’s victory made him exceptionally popular and a war hero, which later propelled him to the Presidency. Americans also grew more courageous and patriotic, doing impressive things, not for self, but for the good of the country.
The war of 1812, fought between the United States and Great Britain, had far-reaching consequences, majorly on the part of the U.S. While some of these consequences are negative, such as burning down of the country’s capital, the war led to many positive outcomes. Although the war can be attributed to a number of factors, the blocking of America’s naval trade routes and impressment of its sailors by Great Britain are considered as among the most immediate causes of the war.
Deeben, John P. “The War of 1812: Stoking the Fires.” National Archives, www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2012/summer/1812-impressment.html
Springer, Paul J. “The Causes of the War of 1812.” Foreign Policy Research Institute, 31 March. 2017, www.fpri.org/article/2017/03/causes-war-1812/