The Wars of 1812 The War of 1812 is often remembered for some iconic moments: - the heroism and success of the United States Navy - the writing of The Star Spangled Banner - the burning of Washington, D.C. by the British - Andrew Jackson winning the Battle of New Orleans Moreover, it carried more than just iconic significance, for the wars: - broke the power of all Native Americans east of the Mississippi - convinced most American leaders of the need for a strong navy - stamped out the final embers of Federalist Party resistance - established the crucial peace with Britain on the Canadian border - positioned the U.S. as truly sovereign in the eyes of world powers - introduced all Americans to the figure of Andrew Jackson But, the ‘War of 1812’ was really the ‘Wars of 1812’: • a war between American settlers and western Natives • a war between the United States and Great Britain • a war between Great Britain and Napoleonic France • a “war” between western Americans and those ‘back east’ • a “war” between Democratic-Republicans and the last Federalists FIRST, this was a war against Great Britain Since the close of the Revolution, American shipping had been prey to both British and French interference, but it was the British that were most hostile and damaging with their policy of impressment - forcing sailors of American ships into service on British naval vessels. Anger of the practice had smoldered for more than a decade; Jefferson’s Embargo Act had been ineffective in ending the practice. President Madison came under increasing pressure to use force to defend the nation’s honor and trade. HOWEVER, fighting in the War of 1812 began as part of a different war - one with Natives in the West In 1810, a Shawnee leader named Tecumseh organized an alliance of tribes of the Ohio Valley in an effort to halt the advance of white American settlement. Whites had engaged in negotiations for the Native lands using deceitful means. The Natives had assistance from the British in the form of arms and encouragement. Great Britain sought to control not only Canada, but also the upper Mississippi Valley; Britain had not entirely given up on the idea of reclaiming her former colonies. This ‘war’ reached an early pinnacle with the Battle of Tippecanoe in November, 1811, when militia forces led by Indiana governor, William Henry Harrison defeated a Native force led by Tecumseh’s brother, the “Prophet”. This campaign, unfortunately involved a series of attacks on women and children in Native settlements. THE REALITY of fighting on the western frontier gave credence to the claims of the WARHAWKS young Congressmen from frontier areas led by Henry Clay from Kentucky and John C. Calhoun from South Carolina. After Tippecanoe, Clay made a rousing speech in the House of Representatives, helping to tip the scales in favor of a declaration of war against Great Britain. What were the circumstances for America as viewed by the War Hawks? DESTRUCTION of Native American power east of the Mississippi River continued with the Creek War (181314). Andrew Jackson, in command of militia forces from Tennessee and across the south, fought a brutal campaign against the powerful Creek Nation and its Native allies. A massacre of over 500 whites and peaceful Indians at Fort Mims fueled resolve to destroy the Creek. 1814 Battle of Horseshoe Bend brought the defeat of the Native alliance, opening the deep south to future cotton cultivation. MEANWHILE, the young U.S. Navy was working a miracle at sea. U.S.S. Constitution USS Wasp vs HMS Frolic U.S.S. United States Forced by its small numbers to adopt the tactics of small squadrons and solo patrols, U.S. captains and crews met surprising success against the larger, more experienced Royal Navy, winning engagements throughout the Atlantic and creating a legend that lives on in the U.S. Navy. Adding to the effectiveness were scores of privateers. Isaac Hull William Bainbridge Thomas MacDonough James Lawrence Stephen Decatur USS Constitution vs HMS Guerriere USS United States vs. HMS Macedonian AND THAT WAS FORTUNATE, because U.S. efforts on land were fairly pathetic. An effort to invade Canada via western Lake Erie, in the summer of 1812 turned into a bloody, muddy mess. The western door to the U.S. was left open by the disaster; a British counter-offensive in the summer of 1813 was only just turned back by desperate efforts of western militia under the leadership of Winfield Scott and William Henry Harrison. The Battle of the Thames brought an end to that British offensive; Tecumseh was killed at this battle in southern Ontario. FAILURE, in battle was made worse by political disputes and near treason. President Madison had been forced into the war by Congress, but most states east of the Appalachians dragged their feet in supplying troops and materiel for the war effort. (New York, Ohio and Indiana Territory did most of the paying, fighting and dying in this war). Federalist political leaders in New England stoked opposition to the war. New England suffered loss of trade due to the war on the Atlantic; people were angry and broke. The Federalists saw an opportunity to break Republican power and organized the Hartford Convention in 1814 where separation from the U.S. and peace with Britain were openly discussed. In the end, New Englanders stayed put, making mild complaint about the loss of the region’s status in Congress (population was growing quickly in the West). COMPLETE DISASTER WAS AVERTED only by the efforts of Commandant Oliver Hazzard Perry commanding naval forces on Lake Erie. There U.S. forces soundly defeated a British squadron, literally saving the United States. Equally significant was Macdonough's victory on Lake Champlain, blocking a British drive from Montreal to New York City. BRITAIN MADE A FINAL EFFORT to win the war in 1814, attempting a three pronged offensive through Chesapeake Bay, Lake Champlain and the Gulf of Mexico. The Chesapeake campaign was mildly successful with President Madison forced to flee Washington while the Brits burned much of it to the ground. This offensive was stopped, however, at Baltimore, in the Battle of Fort McHenry. It was this battle that Francis Scott Key watched from the deck of a British ship and was inspired to write The Star Spangled Banner. More significantly, the British lost General Robert Ross to a sniper’s bullet. A VERY DANGEROUS attack up the Mississippi Valley, involving a large British naval and land force, was stopped by militia under the command of Andrew Jackson, and By poor British leadership, in January 1815 at the Battle of New Orleans. Ironically, the War of 1812 was already officially over. In December 1814, following a U.S. victory in the Battle of Lake Champlain, Britain and the U.S. entered into negotiations for peace. John Quincy Adams led an American delegation that negotiated the Treaty of Ghent that ended the war and, finally secured American shipping on the high seas. In 1817, the Rush-Bagot Agreement demilitarized the U.S.-Canadian border for all time ending nearly all disputes between the U.S. and Great Britain. THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE WAR of 1812 were many: - American sovereignty was firmly established - Native Americans east of the Mississippi were doomed - Federalists were doomed; from 1816 to 1828 a single party, the National Republicans controlled the Federal government - the United States and Great Britain were on their way to fast friendship - a land boom in the west led to the PANIC OF 1819; land prices escalated through wild speculation until the bottom dropped out of the market driving thousands into bankruptcy.