The War of 1812

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In 1812, the United States went to war with the most significant naval power in history at the time-the Great Britain-the war of 1812 that would significantly shape the future of the country. The events that culminated in the battle include Britain's efforts to curtail U.S. trade, America's desire in expanding its territories, and impressment of American seamen by the royal navy. The U.S suffered numerous defeats at the hands of British, Native-American and Canadian troops throughout the war, including the ultimate capture and destruction of the nation's capital (Benn, 2013).

Nevertheless, American troops did repulse the British army in Baltimore, New York, and New Orleans further boosting the nation's confidence and cultivating a wave of patriotism. The treaty of Ghent ratified in 1815 though did not address the contentious issues was celebrated by Americans as a win and ushered in an era of national pride and exclusive agreement. However, despite the overall view that the war instigated a sense of unity, the notion was far-fetched especially to the Native-Americans who suffered the most in a fight they did not understand.

The significance of the war in the Context of U.S History

First, the war was more of a cultural event than a military intervention as America sought to chat its path different from its colonial master. The battle took an emotional as well as a moral direction as the American supporters saw it as a way to contribute to the nation building by population expansion and that marriage, love, and propagation play a key role in expressing the American liberty and patriotism (Fitz, 2015). For the first time, women or even African-Americans incorporated in this project in various parts. Native Americans were the only section of the population left out in this endeavor. Besides, also though contention in the U.S and the internal dissatisfaction with the union threatened to hobble the war campaign, however, after the war a new sense of patriotism emerged inspiring Americans to focus on national goals.

Second, the war was vital in defining the national borders of the U.S and Canada. On the contrary to expectations of most Americans, Canada remained a British protectorate eventually developing it identifies partly stemming from its pride of repulsing out the Americans (Fitz, 2015). On the other hand, the influence of the Britain on Native American on the northwestern side ended forever. Therefore, American expansion in those regions expounded exponentially without check. Similarly, to the war influenced the Creek war to the South where a huge chunk of Florida opened up after Spain was persuaded to cede Florida for the U.S in 1821.

On the international perspective, the war of 1812 resulted in the Ghent arbitration clauses, though it did not resolve the fundamental causes of the war. The Britons were not keen on winning the war, Americans, on the contrary, had their vision of autonomy; thus they saw it as a win (Hattendorf, 2014). According to the arrangements of the treaty, any outstanding disagreements could be settled through established methods depending on the changing administrations in the U.S, world events, and British ministries. Thus laying, the ground for the Anglo-American comity which would weather any future disagreements and sustain the world’s longest unfortified border.

In regards to the military campaigns, the war was a disaster. At the time it ended in 1815 the capital-Washington D.C was burned to the ground, the gains from the newly acquired territories were negligible, and the national debt more than doubled. Meanwhile, the war won the hearts of many citizens in the young nation. Also, ushered in a period with relative strength in national identity and harmony or the the good feelings era. In other words, the war was unproductive and expensive to the U.S government. 

Lossing (1869) provides a sneak peak by which the significant events in the war provided an opportunity of capturing the imaginations of Americans. From attempting to invade Canada-call for war- to Lake Erie battle, to the hoisting of the flag with the words of inspiration by Oliver Perry to the eventual destruction by the British forces. The famous presidential speeches, cartoons, songs helped appeal to the emotions of the masses and painted the war as adventurous that could expand territories for the posterity of the American families. The general Americans-mostly guarded against the worst war elements saw themselves as great participants in the movement without considerable sacrifice. Most of the general population's spirits bolstered by compelling heroic images of men fighting and loyal women bearing children for the nation.

My Take of the War

The war of 1812 resonates deeply in my daily life. Since the campaign was more of an ideological campaign than military intervention, I find it more placed in the contemporary world where we are bombarded daily with divergent ideas. The U.S's primary aim to enter the war was to chat its path different from its colonial masters-Great Britain- and leave its mark in the world map. As I read through various literature concerning the war of 1812, I am always compelled to find a way to do things differently and change the world. Despite being the biggest losers from a military point of view, the American won in a big way in regards to planting the seeds of unity and nationhood. ISimilalrly, the war reminds me that fighting in all occasions does not reap the rewards to either the looser or winner and does not address the contentious issues. Therefore, pursuing dialog and nationhood is the surest way of development.

Effects of the War on Native Americans

Though not alive to witness the adverse effects the war of 1812 presented to her per people, Pocahontas would have suffer from her dalliance with the British after the war. Majority of the Native Americans fought on the side Britons during the war because they saw it as the only way to maintain their independence (Conway, 2017). After the war, the British could not prevent the American expansion to the west and into the lands of the Native Americans. As a result, most Native –Americans were confined to reserves which caused a lot of social problems to date.


            The war of 1812 was both a blessing and a curse to the American citizens. To the government, the war helped bolster the spirit of unity and nationhood. Whereas, to the underrepresented groups such as the Native-Americans, the war is a painful reminder of the last efforts to maintain their dignity and values. Regardless of the outcome of the war, every party lost something valuable be it property or life. At the moment, the U.S. is still grappling with how well to incorporate the Native-Indians effectively.


Benn, C. (2013). 1812: War and the Passions of Patriotism, by Nicole Eustace. Canadian Journal of History, 48(2), 357-359

Conway, S. (2017). Privateering: Patriots and Profits in the War of 1812, by Faye M.

Fitz, C. A. (2015). The Hemispheric Dimensions of Early US Nationalism: The War of 1812, Its Aftermath, and Spanish American Independence. Journal of American History, 102(2), 356-379

Hattendorf, J. B. (2014). The Naval War of 1812 in International Perspective: The Third Alan Villiers Memorial Lecture. The Mariner's Mirror, 99(1), 5-22

Lossing, B. J. (1869). The Pictorial Field-book of the War of 1812: Or, Illustrations, by Pen and Pencil, of the History, Biography, Scenery, Relics, and Traditions of the Last War for American Independence. Harper & Brothers

November 13, 2023

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