The War of 1812 ranks as one of America’s worst-fought wars. The supreme lesson ofthe conflict was the folly of leading a divided and apathetic people into war. ButAmericans came out of the war with a renewed sense of nationhood.
It was an election year as the Warof 1812 commenced.In a very closely contested race,James Madison defeated hisFederalist opponent, Dewitt Clinton. Dewitt Clinton
ON to CANADA over LAND and LAKESOn the eve of the War of 1812, the regular army was ill-trained, ill-disciplined, and widelyscattered. It was supplemented with unreliable militia, and the leadership was semi-senile. The offensive strategy against Canada was especially poor conceived. TheAmerican objective should have been Montreal.The Americans frittered away their strength in the 3-pronged invasion. The trio ofinvading forces were all beaten back by the determined British and Canadians.Americans would soon be grimly defending their own soil against the invading British.
When several American land invasions of Canada were hurled back, Americans looked forsuccess on water. Man for man and ship for ship, the American navy did much betterthan the army. The American frigates, notably the Constitution, had thicker sides,heavier firepower, and larger crews.In comparison to British ships, American ships on the whole were more skillfully handled,had better gunners, and were manned by non-press-gang crews.
Control of the Great Lakes was vital, and an energetic American naval officer, OliverHazard Perry, managed to build a fleet of ships on the shore of Lake Erie. When hecaptured a British fleet in a furious engagement on the lake, he reported to his superiors,“We have met the enemy and they are ours.”
Perry’s victory forced the British to withdraw from Detroit and Fort Madden, where Gen.Harrison defeated them at the Battle of the Thames in 1813.
In mid-1814 Napoleon’s army was destroyed and he was sent into exile. America’sdiversionary power in Europe was now eliminated and the U.S. would have to fight theBritish alone. Europe’s distresses, for once, failed the Americans. In 1814, the British prepared for a crushing blow into New York. The British were forced to use Lake Champlain to bring supplies. The invaders were met by a weaker American fleet, commanded by the 30 year old Thomas Macdonough. In a bloody battle fought near Plattsburgh in 1814, Macdonough snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. The American victory was momentous: The invading British were forced to retreat, saving New York and preventing the British from splitting the country.
WASHINGTON BURNED and NEW ORLEANS DEFENDEDA second formidable British force landed in the Chesapeake Bay in Aug. 1814 and advanced onWashington. The invaders entered the capital and set fire to most of the public buildings, includingthe White House and the Capitol. Dolly Madison
But while Washington burned, the Americans at Baltimore held firm. The Britishbombarded Ft. McHenry but could not capture the city. Francis Scott Key, watching thebombardment, was inspired to write the “Star Spangled Banner.”
A third British blow of 1814, aimed at New Orleans menaced the entire MississippiValley. Andrew Jackson, fresh from defeating the southwest Indians, was placed incommand of the American force. The overconfident British, numbering 8,000 battle-hardened veterans, blundered badly. The attackers suffered the most devastatingdefeat of the entire war.News of the victory made Jackson a national hero. The victory hardly mattered whenword arrived that a peace treaty had been signed two weeks earlier. Gen. Andrew Jackson
THE TREATY of GHENTOn paper, the British won more major engagements and moved around at will, but they would not win the war: 1. There was too much territory for the British to conquer 2. Overconfident commanders made critical tactical mistakes 3. The American navy and privateers won a number of battlesTHE TREATY OF GHENT1. Alexander I of Russia offered to mediate the end of the war in 1812 – why? a. 5 Americans journeyed to Ghent, Belgium in 1814 The talks stalemated over outrageous British demands. What prompted the British to compromise? The Treaty of Ghent was signed Dec. 25, 1814. Explain the key provisions. Which side won/lost? * The treaty reflected the fighting stalemate.
FEDERALIST GRIEVANCES and the HARTFORD CONVENTIONDefiant New England remained a problem. It prospered during the conflict, owinglargely to illicit trade with the enemy in Canada. As the war dragged on, New Englandextremists became more vocal. A small minority of them proposed secession from theUnion, or at least a separate peace with Britain. Ugly rumors were rampant alleging “Blue Light” Federalists aiding the British with their blockade.
The most spectacular manifestation of Federalist discontent was the HartfordConvention. Which states were involved? And, what was the goal of the convention?In truth, the Hartford Convention was less radical than the alarmists supposed. What were itsdemands? Their demands were presented in Washington as the war was ending – their complaintsseemed treasonous. The Hartford resolutions were the death dirge of the Federalist party.
THE SECOND WAR for AMERICAN INDEPENDENCEIf the war was globally unimportant, it had huge consequences for the U.S.:1. The Republic had shown that it could resist what it regarded as injustices a. Nation and diplomats enjoyed unprecedented respect (2nd war for independence) 2. A new nation was welded in the furnace of armed conflict 3. War heroes emerged (Jackson & Harrison) 4. Manufacturing prospered and became more self-reliantTurning their backs on the Old World, Americans faced resolutely toward the untamedWest – and toward the task of building their democracy.
NASCENT NATIONALISM“America may not have fought the war as one nation, but it emerged as one nation.”What is nationalism? Provide examples of this new nationalism. Do we exhibitnationalism today?
“THE AMERICAN SYSTEM”Nationalism manifested itself in manufacturing. Explain the purpose and significance ofthe Tariff of 1816. Describe North-South sectional crosscurrents (Calhoun v.Webster). And explain Henry Clay’s proposed American System of 1824.
THE PANIC of 1819 and the CURSE of HARD TIMESThe Era of Good Feelings comes to an end with the economically paralyzing panic of 1819.What were the characteristics of this downturn?It was the first national financial panic since President Washington took office.Identify the biggest factor creating the crisis.Which section was especially hardhit?Describe the backlashes in the political and social world.
GROWING PAINS of the WESTNine frontier states had joined the original thirteen between 1791 and 1819. With aneye to preserving the North-South sectional balance, most of these commonwealths hadbeen admitted alternately, free or slave. Why the explosive expansion?
Not potent enough to make its voiceheard, it was forced to ally itself withother sections.
SLAVERY and the SECTIONAL BALANCESectional tensions were highlighted in 1819 when the Missouri Territory soughtadmission as a slave state. The territory contained sufficient population to warrantstatehood, but the House of Representatives stymied statehood plans by passing theTallmadge Amendment. What did the amendment stipulate? And, why didsoutherners see this defeated amendment as an ominous threat?
THE UNEASY MISSOURI COMPROMISEDeadlock in Washington was broken by a bundle of 3 compromises brokered by Henry Clay (1820-1821). This compromise was politically evenhanded – what was gained and yielded on both sides?The Missouri Compromise lasted 34 years and it preserved a shaky Union.
Despite the Union-saving compromise, some of the Founding Fathers saw this crisis as anominous omen. Explain how the Missouri dispute was a setback to nationalism and a tremendous stimulus to sectionalism. Despite the critics, why was the compromise invaluable?
SHARING OREGON and ACQUIRING FLORIDAThe Monroe Administration negotiated the much-underrated Treaty of 1818 with Britain.This pact permitted Americans to share the coveted Newfoundland fisheries with theirCanadian neighbors,and ….
…. it also fixed the vague northern limits of Louisiana along the 49th parallel from theLake of the Woods to the Rocky Mts. The treaty further provided for a 10 year jointoccupation of the untamed Oregon Territory, without a surrender of the rights or claimsof either America or Britain.
Why did the U.S. want Florida so badly? And why was Spain equally determined tocling to it? The Madison Admin. encouraged American settlers living under Spanish ruleto rebel in West Florida, but the War of 1812 interrupted claims to Florida.In 1819 the Monroe Admin. commissioned Andrew Jackson to move into E. Florida tocrush the “Indian Menace” that Spain admittedly could not control (Spain was pre-occupied with Latin American revolutions). Jackson scores military victories and he executes 2 British nationals accused of aiding the Indians. Britain & Spain are outraged. A great debate ensues in Washington on what to do with Florida and Jackson. Adams is the only cabinet member to support Jackson and he orders the Spanish to control the Indians or cede. Their defeat highlighted their weaknesses, so they decided to negotiate.
THE ADAMS-ONIS TREATY (1819)The U.S. gained E. Florida and new boundaries were set. Spain gave up claims to Oregon.The U.S. gave up claims to Texas. And, the U.S. agreed to cover $5 million in Americanclaims against Spain (the U.S. did not purchase Florida for $5 million, technically).
MONROE and HIS DOCTRINEExplain the “Menace of Monarchy” in America – how did Latin America fit into thisfear? Why didn’t the British participate in helping its ally, Spain, crush the LatinAmerican revolutions? What was Russia doing to make America uneasy? What proposition did the British (George Canning) offer to the U.S. govt.? Why did he offer this unusual/unexpected proposal? Explain the mixed reaction to Canning’s proposal.
The Monroe Doctrine:What were its two basic features? What was public reaction toit in the U.S.? Could we enforce it? How did Britain and other monarchies react? In retrospect, what was the real significance of the Monroe Doctrine? Was the doctrine really concerned with Latin America?
The Russo-American Treaty of 1824 fixed the Russian southern-most border at theline of 54 degrees and 40 minutes – the present southern tip of the Alaskan panhandle.
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