Face it, we all know that learning about American history is not always the most exciting thing in the world, but my job today is to teach you about the War of 1812 in a way that won’t put you to sleep!
So basically, after Thomas Jefferson was reelected in 1804, Britain and France still had some beef with each other. This beef also happened to mess with American shipping and trade because both Britain and France tried to block America from trading with one another. Essentially, the two nations set up a blockade.
(a blockade is the act of sealing off a place to prevent goods or people from entering or leaving.)
By 1807, the British had captured over 1,000 American ships!
Now, while both Britain AND France were being rather annoying to America, the US was particularly mad at Britain. Why? Well, Britain had this policy of impressment which basically let them capture Americans and make them join the British navy. So obviously America was like, “what the heck, Britain”.
ANOTHER reason why America was particularly mad at Britain throughout this whole thing was because of the Chesapeake incident.
You may be asking, what was the Chesapeake incident, Sidra? Well I’ll tell ya.
Basically in 1807 the commander of some British ship wanted to come onto an American ship to search it. The ship was called, you guessed it, Chesapeake! The American ship wouldn’t allow the British captain to come and search their ship, so the Brits opened fire on the ship killing 3 and wounding 18.
This act caused Jefferson to push Congress to announce an embargo which is an official ban on trade or other commercial activity with a particular country. It was called the Embargo Act of 1807, and Jefferson deduced that it would make Britain and other European nations understand that America wanted no part in this feud. 2 years later, Congress raised the ban….except with Britain and France, they were still embargoed.
In 1809, another problem arrived. This problem occurred when General William Henry Harrison who was the governor of Indiana territory made a bunch of Native American chiefs sign away 3 MILLION acres of tribal land and give it to the government.
However, not all the Native American chiefs were ready to sign away their tribal land. Of these was the chief of the Shawnee tribe, Tecumseh.
Tecumseh believed that the only way to keep their land safe against white settlers was to create a untied Native American nation.
Around 1805, his brother, (who was called the Prophet), started a movement with members of the Shawnee tribe in which they worked to get rid of all traces of…white people, basically. Tecumseh was smart, and while he had his brother working on getting their Native American ways back, he also was pushing Harrison to leave the tribal land.
BUT ALSO AT THE SAME TIME,
Tecumseh also worked on negotiations with the British since he knew the Natives would need help from the British in the inevitable war between the Natives and the Americans.
By 1811, war between Natives and Americans was already brewing. Prophet, Tecumseh’s brother, had led an attack against Harrison’s troops where Harrison quickly retaliated by burning down the Shawnee tribes capital, which was ironically named Prophetstown. Later on it was discovered that the Natives were receiving guns and arms from British Canada! Because of this, a bunch of young men from the South and the West who were known as the war hawks pressed for war against Britain.
The now president, James Madison decided to go to war against Britain under the accusation that Britain was “trying to strangle American trade and cripple the American economy”.
Though they were the ones to declare it, America was laughably unprepared for the war. They suffered multiple defeats including a failed attempt to capture Montreal from Canada.
In 1814, the British burned down the White House and multiple other buildings in the nations capital as comeback to the United States.
Eventually, America and Britain decided that enough was enough and signed the Treaty of Ghent. America was ready for peace and the 2 nations came to agreements on many issues that weren’t initially addressed in the treaty and they also signed another agreement with Britain in 1817 called the Rush-Bagot agreement that minimized the amount of warships allowed in the Great Lakes.
Aaaaaaand there ya have it,
The War of 1812!