Many American leaders saw this as a principled war between honest Farmers and evil Bankers

Barely a generation after winning her independence from Great Britain, America stumbled into her first major war in what could now be viewed as a wild military adventure. It split the country brining ruin to the economy and failing to achieve any of the stated aims.


The causes of the war seem depressingly familiar to a 21st century reader: bad intelligence, the expectation that American troops would be treated as liberators, flawed understanding of the economic consequences of the conflict and a marked failure to effectively assess the type of war their enemy would fight. This allied with a lack of exit strategy and domestic opposition to the war from the earliest stages make the War of 1812 one of the most painful phases in the growth of the new Republic.


Our focus is the historical context of the conflict rather than the events and personalities which defined it. With the benefit of perspective it can be argued that it didn’t really matter to either side that the British took Washington DC and burned the public buildings, just as it didn’t have any lasting impact that New Orleans was saved from the same fate by Jackson. It probably does matter to the world we live in that Canada was not annexed by the US and it would doubtless have mattered if the British were distracted enough by the war to divert essential resources away from the struggle with France allowing Napoleon to survive and consolidate his hold on Europe.


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