Was the War of 1812 Pointless?

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The War of 1812 proved to be the most serious challenge to face the United States since the country's birth. This ‘Second war of Independence' perhaps changed American history as we know it though. This essay will discuss the causes for this war assessing whether there actually were valid reasons for the United States and Britain going to war or whether the whole 1812 war was just born out of "pointless aggression"

The war of 1812 was a very unnecessary war. It broke out just as one of its chief causes (The Orders in Council) was removed and its greatest battle (New Orleans) was fought just after peace was signed. The war was unnecessary from a British point of view but for the Americans it was inescapable. The Royal Navy had kidnapped 3,800 American sailors and pressed them into service. The Orders In Council had deprived the United States of a profitable trade with France and can be seen as having ruthlessly subordinated American economic interests to the political interests of the British Empire. American farmers also blamed the orders, perhaps unfairly, for a fall in agricultural prices that produced a depression in the West in the years immediately before the war. On the frontier it was universally believed that Indian restlessness war stirred up by British agents although really American oppression has to be seen as a big cause of this too.

America's war with Britain seemed inevitable although the Americans did everything they decently could to avoid it, although there seemed to be endless provocation by Britain, for example in 1807 when a British frigate, the leopard opened fire on an American frigate the Chesapeake. The choice before America, Jefferson the former president and his successor Madison agreed was war or submission – to fight or to undo one of the main achievements of the revolution and accept total defeat in international affairs to England. As John Quincy Adams put it "It was not a matter of dollars and cents, no...
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