Historical Background of the War of 1812:
On June 1, 1812, President James Madison asked Congress to declare war against the United Kingdom. He gave as his reasons the impressment of United States seamen and the interference with United States trade. He charged also that the British had stirred up Indian warfare in the Northwest. Congress declared war on June 18, 1812. Two days earlier, the British foreign minister had announced that the Orders in Council would be repealed, but word of this announcement did not reach America until after the war had begun.
7 reasons why the War of 1812 was an odd war:
1. The War of 1812 was in many ways the strangest war in United States history. It could well be named the War of Faulty Communication. Two days before war was declared, the British government stated that it would repeal the laws, which were the chief reason for fighting. If there had been telegraphic communication with Europe, the war might well have been avoided. Speedy communication would also have prevented the greatest battle of the war, which was fought at New Orleans 15 days after a treaty of peace had been signed.
2. The chief United States complaint against the British was interference with shipping. But New England, the great shipping section of the United States, bitterly opposed the idea of going to war. The demand for war came chiefly from the West and South.
3. It is strange also that the war, fought for freedom of the seas, began with the invasion of Canada. In addition, the treaty of peace that ended the war settled none of the issues over which it had supposedly been fought.
4. Another oddity was that the young United States was willing to risk war against the powerful United Kingdom. Finally, add that both sides claimed victory in the War of 1812, and it becomes clear that the whole struggle was a confused mass of contradictions.
5. The War of 1812 was the only time since independence that foreign troops occupied Washington, D.C. In 1814, The British Army, under General Robert Ross, was escorted by a fleet to Chesapeake Bay, scattered the United States troops at the Battle of Bladensburg, occupied Washington, D.C., and set fire to the Capitol, the White House, and other public buildings. President Madison and wife Dolly barely escaped the British surprise attack of the American capital. Dolly Madison refused to leave the White House without saving a portrait of George Washington and a copy of the Declaration of Independence. Both the British Army and the British fleet were driven back at Baltimore. This engagement inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
6. It was also the only war since Independence in which the United States invaded Canada. In April 1813, York (now Toronto), the capital of Upper Canada, was captured by United States troops and held for a short time. Some of the public buildings were burned.
7. The final major battle of the war took place after a peace treaty was signed. The Battle of New Orleans was the last engagement of the war. It was fought on Jan. 8, 1815. Like the declaration of war, this battle might have been prevented if there had been speedy communication. A treaty of peace had been signed at Ghent, Belgium, 15 days before the battle took place, but the treaty was not ratified by the United States until a month later.
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