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DBQ 6 The War of 1812

By loveearielleex3 Dec 27, 2013 845 Words
In 1812, the United States declared war against Great Britain. Since the 1790s, American leaders tried to avoid getting involved in wars between France and Britain. George Washington issued a proclamation of neutrality which meant that the United States would not choose sides between France and Britain. In 1800, John Adams agreed to the Convention of 1800. This ended the alliance America formed with France during the American Revolution, which threatened to draw America into Europe’s wars. The next president, Thomas Jefferson, continued to steer clear of war with France and Britain. But when Europe violated American trading rights – Britain destroying American ships, seizing cargoes, and kidnapping sailors – Jefferson enacted the Embargo Act on American trading. This prevented trading with foreign nations, but failed to force Europe to respect our rights and put many merchants, shippers, and sailors out of work, which severely affected our economy. When James Madison became president, the United States continued to deal with the problem of impressment. This along with many other forces led Americans to declare war on Britain in 1812. The other issues leading up to the war were the political party of President Madison and the United States’ desire for expansionism. Impressment was a large force that led Americans to declare war on Britain in 1812. The ocean was a common and affective way to transport goods in order to trade with other nations. Every country has the right to use the ocean; but because Britain was causing America’s rights to be restricted by capturing American ships and enslaving our seamen, it caused many problems between the two countries (Document 1). Congressman John C. Calhoun, a Democratic-Republican member of the House of Representatives from South Carolina also believed that Britain is causing America’s rights to be restricted. In Calhoun’s speech, he states that Britain is attacking our maritime and commercial rights, and we need to protect ourselves from British impressment (Document 2). He foresaw the threat of war, and encouraged the United States to go to war. Congressman John C. Calhoun is considered a war hawk. A war hawk is a congressman who favored war with Britain, and influenced Madison to declare war. In President Madison’s Declaration, he also said that the primary reason for the War of 1812 was Great Britain’s impressment of American ships (Document 4). Some Americans believed that British impressment was not a factor in the declaration of the War of 1812. For example, the U.S. House of Representatives took a vote on their view of declaring war on Britain. The northern regions of the United States opposed war with England, and the western/southern regions favored war with England (Document 5). This vote on the war is ironic and contradicts earlier documents. The northern and the maritime regions rely on trade with other nations, and Britain had been attacking their ships. If the real cause of the war was British impressment and the protection of our maritime rights, then the northern and maritime regions would have favored the war. Another example is a speech by Congressman John Randolph of Virginia. Congressman Randolph believed that the situation that was “really” behind the talk about war with England was not because of Britain impressing American ships, it was because the northern states wanted more land (Document 3). The North was expansionistic and wanted to expand their territories into Canada. The British owned Canadian territory, and thought that the North was being greedy for farmland. British impressment may not be a factor in the declaration of the War on 1812; instead, the Northerners greed for farmland may have been a force. Another factor that led to the Americans declaring war on Britain in 1812 is the political party of the President. In the vote approving the declaration of war on Britain, The Federalists unanimously opposed the declaration of war, and the Democratic-Republicans strongly favored the declaration of war. Because President James Madison is a Democratic-Republican, the United States declared war on Britain (Document 6). If the president at the time was a Federalist, the United States would have opposed the war against Britain, and the War of 1812 may have never happened. There are many forces that led Americans to declare war on Britain in 1812. Many Americans believed that British impressment was a huge factor in the declaration of the War of 1812. Others believed that the North’s greed for farm land had a huge impact. But if President Madison was not a Democratic-Republican, the chances of the United States declaring war would be slim. All of these factors were just as important as the next, and were strong forces that led to the United States declaring war on Britain in 1812. The War of 1812 ended in a stalemate, and was ended by the Treaty of Ghent. Nothing was gained nor lost by the Americans; however, there will be an extreme sense of Nationalism that will sweep the country over the next 10 years. Today, the War of 1812 is considered a forgotten war, because there were not any major gains. This war may be considered a forgotten war, but it was still a very important one.

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