The growth of many countries, especially the United States is marked by a lot of challenges and problems ranging from epidemics to racial strife and especially costly wars, which have aided in shaping the present state of the nation for the better. The War of 1812 is one such events that shaped the growth of the United States, which involved another military conflict between the British Empire and the United States after the United States gained independence from the Britons. The war enabled the United States to establish itself as a remarkable country that could stand against its enemies considering that it had gained its independence while going up against a strong British Empire. Exemplifying other major wars, the War of 1812 was fought on many battlefronts especially the sea and land and in different areas of the United States, including Baltimore and New Orleans, and even spilling into neighboring Canada. The causes of the war, as befits the nature of war in that era, involved expansion into other territories as well as interference in international trade by the British Empire, which, as Jeremy affirms, faced various challenges such as the war with France, as well as opportunities. This research paper seeks to discuss in detail the War of 1812 with regards to the causes, main battlefronts and the outcomes of the war.
CAUSES OF WAR
Deep resentment by the United States against Britain due to their interference with American international trade is one of the prime reasons that led America through Congress to declare war on Great Britain in 1812. Over a decade before, the British Empire had passed a law that gave it a right to intercept American ships while on the high seas, as well as in searching for ‘contraband’ goods the British deemed illegal, and seizing their cargoes. The British navy also searched the American ships crews for British navy personnel who had deserted the harsh conditions of the sea and the royal navy. The Americans saw this as a violation of their rights as a neutral and sovereign state while the Britons claimed that the actions were necessary measures in a time of war. At this time, as McCranie avers, Britain was at war with France, which made it quite difficult to deal with the threat of America even though it had the greatest naval resources at the time enabling it to fight on two battlefronts.
To reiterate, another cause involved the impressment of American sailors from merchant ships into the British Royal Navy as a long-held practice where the British navy conscripted American sailors into their navy by force. Being in a time of expansion, the United States was also intent in expanding its territories to the north and into Canada, whereby, in the process, an interest in annexing northern Canada grew. The declaration of war against the British, which was announced in 1812, was seen as a way that Upper Canada would be acquired as retaliation against the British. Furthermore, the war was also precipitated by British interference in America’s expansion efforts by supporting American Indian tribes in resisting against American expansion where after the great Shawnee Chief Tecumseh and the British gained control of American territory.
THE COURSE OF WAR: WAR CAMPAIGNS
The expansion into Canada was one of the major war campaigns instituted by the Americans against the British where they captured present day Toronto though they abandoned the place in a bid to acquire more and better territory. However, the British destroyed their resources before capture and fled, after which the American pushed them hard leading to a precise retaliatory attack that saw the Americans defeated at the hands of the British. This was aided by the great force of the First Nations, Native Americans who supported the British culminating into American withdrawal from Canada. Even though this was a win for the Native Americans and the British, more war campaigns to the west saw the reverse of these two factions after they were defeated in the War of the Lakes and the Battle of the Thames.
This happened after the appointed general Prevost hesitated to attack American forces which took the opportunity to fortify their position through an aggressive American fleet under Thomas Macdonough after the Treaty of Ghent had been affected. The death of major leaders of the armies of the British, as well as those of the First Nations, saw their armies scatter and victory for America was imminent. However, Britain retaliated by capturing other American territories especially in the state of Maine and New York, after which the Americans requested signing a peace treaty. This reflects the resistance of British forces which, Fowler avers, is steeped in the British soldier’s commitment to his country, long experience in battle and desire to actually utilize his training in battle, as well as confidence and courage in his weapons.
TREATY OF GHENT: CEASE FIRE
With intermittent escalation of war including casualties and acquisition of territories between the Americans on one hand and the British and the First Nations on the other, the combatants agreed to come to an agreement in halting the conflict. This led to the treaty of Ghent, which was mediated by the Russian Czar and since it took a long time, the fighting continued. Since the British needed to negotiate from a position of strength, they attacked the New Orleans territory but were defeated under the leadership of the American general Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans. After the battle, the treaty of Ghent, which was carried out in Ghent, Belgium, was finally delivered in the United States and enforced a victory defined by triumph at the Battle of New Orleans. Basically, the war ended without the main causes of the war being addressed and in form of a cease fire after a stalemate. This led to many changes including American expansion into Native American territories through treaties after they were abandoned by their allies, the British, and defeated by the Americans and better relations between the United States and the British Empire.
In conclusion, the War of 1812 can be viewed as an event that led to positive changes in America especially in relation to the repair of relations between the two countries unto this day, as well as the enhancement of American nationalism. The interference of Britain in American international maritime trade and expansion into new territories, as well as the impressment of American sailors in the British navy, among other reasons, triggered the war of 1812.The war depicts Canada as the major entity that benefitted from the war since it managed to keep its territories and the initiation of a deep sense of nationalism in the rise of a new Canada. For the Americans, there were major losses in resources even though they managed to come to agreement with the First Nations and the British who ended up having no territory in America.