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War of 1812: Mixed Results for American ForcesEdit

Things looked better for the United States in the West, as Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry's brilliant success in the Battle of Lake Erie in September 1813 placed the Northwest Territory firmly under American control. Harrison was subsequently able to retake Detroit with a victory in the Battle of Thames (in which Tecumseh was killed). Meanwhile, the U.S. navy had been able to score several victories over the Royal Navy in the early months of the war. With the defeat of Napoleon's armies in April 1814, however, Britain was able to turn its full attention to the war effort in North America. As large numbers of troops arrived, British forces raided the Chesapeake Bay and moved in on the U.S. capital, capturing Washington D.C., on August 24, 1814, and burning government buildings including the Capitol and the White House.

On September 13, 1814, Baltimore's Fort McHenry withstood 25 hours of bombardment by the British Navy. The following morning, the fort's soldiers hoisted an enormous American flag, a sight that inspired Francis Scott Key to write a poem he titled "The Star-Spangled Banner." (Set to the tune of an old English drinking song, it would later be adopted as the U.S. national anthem.) British forces subsequently left the Chesapeake Bay and began gathering their efforts for a campaign against New Orleans.

End of the War of 1812 and its ImpactEdit

By that time, peace talks had already begun at Ghent (modern Belgium), and Britain moved for an armistice after the failure of the assault on Baltimore. In the negotiations that followed, the United States gave up its demands to end impressment, while Britain promised to leave Canada's borders unchanged and abandon efforts to create an Indian state in the Northwest. On December 24, 1814, commissioners signed the Treaty of Ghent, which would be ratified the following February. On January 8, 1815, unaware that peace had been concluded, British forces mounted a major attack on New Orleans, only to meet with defeat at the hands of future U.S. president Andrew Jackson's army. News of the battle boosted sagging U.S. morale and left Americans with the taste of victory, despite the fact that the country had achieved none of its pre-war objectives.

Though the War of 1812 is remembered as a relatively minor conflict in the United States and Britain, it looms large for Canadians and for Native Americans, who see it as a decisive turning point in their losing struggle to govern themselves. In fact, the war had a far-reaching impact in the United States, as the Treaty of Ghent ended decades of bitter partisan infighting in government and ushered in the so-called "Era of Good Feelings." The war also marked the demise of the Federalist Party, which had been accused of being unpatriotic for its antiwar stance, and reinforced a tradition of Anglophobia that had begun during the Revolutionary War. Perhaps most importantly, the war's outcome boosted national self-confidence and encouraged the spirit of American expansionism that would shape the better part of the 19th century.

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