Sep 102012
War of 1812

The British Navy was permitted to press any British citizen anywhere in the world for service on a warship. This irritating procedure became a serious problem during the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815), and thousands of men were pressed from American ships. Both Britain and France were trying to prevent neutral America from trading with the other, but the Royal Navy’s dominant position meant that American ships were much more likely to be boarded by the British. Motivated by the need to satisfy the hawks in his party, who wanted to expand the United States and end British support for the Indian tribes that resisted American expansion, President James Madison won Congress’ permission to go to war with Britain, and the United States declared war on June 18, 1812.
Despite the United States’ much larger population, the war did not go according to plan. Aside from several naval victories, the first few American armies that entered Canada were either captured or forced to retreat back across the border. Control of border forts shifted back and forth until Napoleon’s abdication on March 31, 1814 freed thousands of British troops for a seaborne invasion of the east coast, which resulted in the burning of Washington. Since recently annexed Louisiana was considered ripe for the plucking, a fleet was dispatched to capture New Orleans, and thus improve the British hand at the negotiating table. However, a badly-executed campaign enabled General Andrew Jackson to win an overwhelming victory. Read More…