War Of 1812 Causes

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Aside from the “rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air,” and the controversy surrounding its victors, the War of 1812 was best described as “perhaps the least remembered of American wars because it was fought in such a left-handed slapdash manner on both sides.” 1 The War of 1812 took place in a time shortly after the United States declared independence from Great Britain, but with this newfound freedom came some challenges. For example, Britain’s new lack of control over their American lands brought forth some underlying tension when it came to the cases of alliances and international trade. In addition to the pressure caused by Britain’s loss of power, Napoleon’s campaign in Europe piled on even more stress. This conflict escalated, bringing both sides to make foolish, rash decisions that eventually led to a war recognized by few. Though the War of 1812 is considered an American victory, it can be argued that there was no true victor due to a lack of success in achieving any original goals.
The War of 1812 had a strange lack of victors, but to fully comprehend its effects, one must first evaluate the causes of the war. Each nation involved in the war had a very specific set of goals they wished to accomplish. Initially, the United States aimed to stay neutral in the affairs of Britain and France during the Napoleonic Wars until the two rivals attempted to restrict American trade. In an effort to combat this, President Jefferson passed the Embargo Act of 1807, which banned trade with all foreign countries. The act, intending to deprive the world of American trade, backfired and was later replaced with the Non-Intercourse Act to instead ban trade with only Britain and France. America's unwillingness to trade with the two caused tension that was intensified by the British policy of impressment.2 The resulting “anti-British sentiment” was greatly encouraged by the War Hawks, a group led by Henry Clay that supported war with Britain. They ardently pursued the end of impressment due to the Chesapeake-Leopard Incident in which the HMS Leopard boarded the USS Chesapeake, took four prisoners, and executed one thinking that they were British deserters. Once discovering that they were not, Britain returned the

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