Despite the name of this war, it actually lasted a few years. But the “War of 1812 to 1815” doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as easily.
|U.S. History||Early Republic: 1789-1815|
what this war was all about?
Have we as a nation blocked it out for some reason?
Were we all hopped up on nitrous oxide after a long trip to the dentist?
Or was there simply... not much to remember? Well, let's take a stroll down "No Memory Lane..."
...and see if we can get a handle on this hazy period of history.
The whole thing kicked off in June of 1812...
...when President James Madison asked the Senate to pass a declaration
of war against Great Britain.
They did just that, by a vote of 19 to 13.
Yep, you did the math correctly -- only 32 senators.
There was a lot more breathing room in the Senate back in those days.
The first major conflict was a naval battle between the USS Constitution and the HMS Guerriere.
That's "derriere" with a "G."
The British artillery simply couldn't quite get through the hull of the American ship...
...which was known as "Old Ironsides."
In retrospect, "Ironsides" probably would have sufficed.
Doesn't seem necessary to make the poor boat feel bad about its age.
A number of smaller battles followed, including one very small battle that wasn't actually
a battle at all.
The Americans surrendered to British forces at Detroit without even putting up a fight.
But don't worry -- General William Hull was court-martialed for his cowardice.
In the middle of the War, James Madison was elected to a second term as President.
He received 128 votes in the Electoral College...
...easily enough to top the 89 votes received by De Witt Clinton...
...who was supported by the Federalist Party.
After a couple of years, the United States and Great Britain finally began having direct talks.
Their phones began getting much better reception with their new family plans.
However, it still wasn't enough to resolve the nations' differences.
On September 14th of 1814, the British attacked Baltimore.
And after three days of fighting, the British retreated.
The accuracy of the American artillery at Fort McHenry kept the British from entering the harbor.
Our boys could have picked a flea off a dog's back from one hundred yards.
The win was so stirring that it actually inspired Francis Scott Key to write "The Star Spangled Banner."
By 1815, everyone had had enough.
Britain and the United States signed the Treaty of Ghent...
...which called for the return of all POW's and captured territory...
...as well as amnesty for all Indians who fought in the war.
The Treaty also asked for the return of all slaves seized during the war by the British...
...and a commitment from both nations to put an end to the international slave trade.
The real reasons the war had been fought in the first place -- British maritime policy,
neutral rights, and impressment -- all of which got swept under the rug.
Unfortunately, news of the agreement could only travel at one horsepower back then.
And two weeks before they received word of peace, the US claimed its signature win at
the Battle of New Orleans.
In that lopsided encounter, the British suffered over 2,000 casualties...
...while the Americans only lost 21 men.
Now that's what we call a whoopin'. So, while certain things were accomplished...
...the issues that plagued the two nations at the start of the war were kinda... left
hanging. Which may be why the War of 1812 doesn't
stand out in the forefront of our minds.
In the scheme of things, it was sort of a... mini-war.
Don't you fret, however.
Plenty of big, awful, memorable wars were right around the bend.