The War of 1812 is one of the most misunderstood and neglected wars in American history. The war was full of American and British blundering maneuvers both on land and sea. It remains among the least remembered of the major wars fought in early America. Most all know details of the American Revolution and the Civil War but the War of 1812 is sometimes called “America’s Forgotten War.” Even though many people do not know the details of this war it is one of the most important wars fought. The war not only placed America as the dominant power in the western world; but it finally allowed the United States to gain its independence from Great Britain.
After the United States had won the Revolutionary War in 1783, trading between America, Great Britain, and France grew, which helped a fledgling post war American economy. Great Britain was the largest trading partner receiving approximately eighty percent of U.S. cotton and fifty percent of other U.S. exports. The British public and press were resentful of the growing mercantile and commercial competition. The United States' view was that Britain's restrictions violated its right to trade with others When Great Britain and France resumed their war in 1803, the United States became enmeshed in the same quarrels over neutral rights, blockades, ship seizures, and impressment of U.S. sailors that had almost dragged the country into war in the 1790’s (Goldfield, Abbott, Anderson, Argersinger, Barney, & Weir, 2011).
In June 1807 a confrontation known as the Chesapeake Incident nearly triggered a war between Great Britain and the United States. The Chesapeake, an American frigate was off the coast of Norfolk, Virginia, under the command of Commodore James Barron, when a British ship, the Leopard under the command of Salusbury Pryce Humphreys, come upon and stopped the Americans. Commodore Baron was presented with a search warrant, but when he refused to allow the ship to be searched; the Leopard fired a round across their bow and then fired upon the broadsides of the ship. The Chesapeake managed only to fire only a single gun in defense. Commodore Barron who was outgunned surrendered. Three of the Chesapeake’s crew were killed and 18 were wounded, including the Commodore. Humphrey’s however refused to accept the surrender and sent a boarding party to search for deserters.
President Thomas Jefferson did not succumb to the pressures to engage in war with Britain although many in the government along with the public had called for war. Instead he opted to enact the Embargo Act of 1807, which prohibited American ships from leaving port to any nation until Great Britain and France repealed their trading restrictions on neutral shippers. Jefferson’s hopes were that the European nations were so dependent on American exports that they would end their assault of American shipping, respect the United States neutrality, and cease the policy of impressment. Unfortunately the act turned out to be an enormous failure and inflicted more burdens on the American economy. Later after James Madison was elected president the Embargo act was replaced with the Nonintercourse Act, which opened trade to all countries except Great Britain and France. However trade could be reopened if either country lifted its restrictions on American shipping.
During this time in the then Northwest Territory many Americans called for aid against Indian attacks. Western settlers were accusing the British of inciting the attacks. The British had the long-standing goal of creating a large "neutral" Indian state that would cover much of Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan. However it was actually the Americans desire for more and more Indian land that triggered the pan-Indian resistance movement. The message of this movement was rock-solid, white encroachments on Indian land had to be stopped. The Indian Nations followed Tenskwatawa, the Shawnee Prophet and the brother of Tecumseh. Tenskwatawa had a vision of purifying his...
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