The war of 1812 between the U.S and the Great Britain lasted from 1812 to 1815 and was mainly fought on land, coasts and waterways of North America. In the year 1812, the United States of America was inexorably headed for war with Britain. The years after the American Revolution had come to an end, France experienced its own revolution in 1789 and that the French society descended into total horror.
Great Britain played a part in planning to overthrow the French revolution by organizing coalitions between 1793 and 1815 which was headed by Napoleon Bonaparte (Borneman 56). The events in France shaped the American society in that during this time, American people thought that it was justifiable and right for United States to go into war on behalf of France in a move that would be seen as returning the favor France had done to them by assisting America during the American Revolution. Most people in America did not know the extent of terror in France believing it to be a revolution.
Most Americans reasoned that the terror in France was a temporary exuberance of the spirit of the revolution and would soon settle down. Under the leadership of George Washington, America was not ready to enter a foreign war. Washington was aware that America had no enough to engage in the war and was still struggling to unite and bring its own citizens under the control of the federal government. Despite this, the United States could not keep out of the war because Britain continued to humiliate U.S in many aspects. Several issues made the United States of America declare war on Great Britain (Hickey 67). The continuous impressments of U.S sailors, the British attack on Chesapeake Bay, disputes over the Northwest Territories, the British blockade of France during Napoleonic war and the border with Canada, trade restrictions by the British on Americans impeded American trade with France and this could adversely affect the economy of the U.S.
The Great Britain navy ships oftenly stopped the U.S trade and merchant ships and at the end impressed their sailors. The United States was not happy with this behavior because sailor’s impressments meant that U.S sailors and merchants were forced to work as slaves aboard British ships. Impressed sailors never returned home since they were coerced to labor for the British navy. Another factor that led to declaration of war was that Britain continued to work with Native Americans in Canada and other territories of the U.S with aim of overthrowing the federal government and hinder or stop U.S settlement plan. This meant that the Great Britain did not abide by the terms of the Jay Treaty which demanded that Britain had to remove its soldiers from U.S territories; America saw this move as disrespect and defiance and as a sign of aggression. Another reason is that the Great Britain tried to hinder and stop trade between U.S and France (Wood 78-80).
The federal government could not let this issues affect the United States and they were determined to go to war with Britain. The continued impressments of Americans on the high seas, capture of American merchant ships and seeming support from France, U.S president Madison bowed to political and public pressure by asking the congress to declare war on Great Britain.
Summarily, it is evident that the issues that pressed the federal government to declare war on Great Britain were weighty since they have undermined an economy of country that was struggling to build her new economy and reorganize her people.
- Borneman, Walter. 1812: The War That Forged a Nation. New York: Harper Perennial, 2005.
Hickey, Donald. The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict, Bicentennial Edition. New York:
Prentice Hall, 2012. Print.
Wood, Henry. The war with the United States: A chronicle of 1812. Toronto: University of
Toronto, 2011. Print.