The War of 1812 [AP U.S. History Review]

The War of 1812 [AP U.S. History Review]


Hi everyone, and welcome back to Heimler’s
History. So Thomas Jefferson was elected to a second
term as president in 1804 and it was during his second term and into James Madison’s first
term that a little storm started brewing around here that would eventually lead our toddling
nation into war, namely the War of 1812, which is a war that almost no American citizen can
remember anything about except for the fact that it occurred in 1812 because it was called
the War of 1812. And the reason we’re going to talk about such
a popularly forgettable war is because of the great consequences it had on our growing
nation. So let’s begin in the beginning. Let’s get to it. During this time France and Britain were at
war, you know because France and Britain are at
war every other weekend in World History. But remember, the U.S. has a pretty strong
policy of noninvolvement in European conflicts. But even with that policy the good news is,
American merchants were getting filthy rich by trading with both France and with Britain. And as it turns out, neither Britain nor France
was all that fond of the United States schmoozing its enemy. So France declared that any American merchant
ships that entered into British territory would be forthwith destroyed. And not to be outdone, the British declared
that any American merchant ships that entered French territory would be forthwith destroyed. And that was annoying to the Americans. It would be kind of like having two friends
who were in a fight and you still like both of them and both of them say to you, “Hey,
if I see you at his house, Ima shoot you.” But even though it was annoying it was not
enough to drag America into their war. Even worse than this was the British impressment
of American sailors. British what-ment? Impressment. On a pretty large scale, British navy men
were impressing American sailors into their service. Now the word impressment doesn’t mean that
the Americans looked at the British and were like, “Man, that’s a nice boat, where’d you
get that boat?” Impressment was the act of clobbering an American
sailor upside the head and then forcing them into the service of the British navy. The British started capturing all these Americans
and saying, “You know what? Y’all’s war of independence was only like
50 years ago so y’all are basically British. Yeah, you’re gonna fight for us.” Now this practice, understandably, deeply
angered the Americans at home. The British might as well have taken our national
honor, made a fire hydrant out of it, and set it up in an alternate universe where dogs
ruled the world. So it’s right about now that James Madison
is elected president and he finds himself contending with a bunch of young guys in the
Congress who were known as the War Hawks. And they wanted a fight. But we can’t paint these War Hawks with a
single brush, they were equal opportunity war mongers. Not only did they want to get into a war with
France, but they also wanted a war with the Indians who were selfishly resisting American
westward migration across the Alleghenies. But the Indians united under the leadership
of a fierce chief named Tecumseh. And under that leadership they resisted the
American settlers. But the Americans came against them powerfully
at the Battle of Tippecanoe, routing the Indians. And that led to the Indians basically saying
to Britain, “Hey, White People! When the time comes we want to help you white
people kill those white people.” To which the British responded, “Mokay.” So the British began sending arms to hostile
Indians to do battle with the Americans. And this was the tipping point for Madison. Even though America was a young republic and
very unskilled in the art of war, Madison decided that it was time for this little plumpling
to stand up and flex its muscles. On June 1st, 1812 Madison asked Congress for
a declaration of war, which they granted to him but not overwhelmingly. In fact, there was a large contingent of Federalists
who deeply opposed this war. Now that little tidbit is going to be important,
so take it, put it in your pocket, and we’ll get back to it later. Now we’re not going to get into the battles
and details of this war, but needless to say, our offensive strategy was not the best. There were some rousing moments, including
the Battle on the Great Lakes of Michigan in which Oliver Hazard Perry captured the
British fleet after a furious battle. Wait a minute, is his middle name really “Hazard?” That sounds like a pick up line. “Oh, Mr. Perry, that battle sounds positively
hazardous.” “Girl, my middle name is Hazard.” As it turns out, it’s not a pick up line. that’s his real middle name. There was also the Battle of New Orleans in
which future president Andrew Jackson manhandled the British forces in a surprise victory. And this launched Jackson into a national
hero status and produced a giant wave of patriotism that swept through the country. But the British handled the Americans too. It was actually Tsar Alexander of Russia,
of all people, who said, “Hey, can ya’ll stop fighting?” Napoleon was pushing hard into Russia and
Alexander was tired of watching his British allies wasting resources fighting the stupid
Americans and not fighting the stupid French. So they all gathered together in Belgium and
signed the Treaty of Ghent, which basically said we’re going to stop fighting. And it neither awarded territory to the Americans
nor awarded territory to the British. In fact, they both basically got nothing;
it was just a cease-fire agreement. And at the news of this, Americans beamed
with pride, because it was the second war in a row that they did, you know, lose. And this sparked a fervent sense of nationalism,
because, hey, we’re the kind of nation that takes up arms and resists any blow to our
national pride. Now I said we’d come back to the Federalists,
and now is the time when we’re going to pronounce the funeral oration over this party. They so opposed this war that in 1814 they
got together in something called the Hartford Convention and at the Hartford Convention
they decided that their respective states would secede from the union and create their
own little Fed-topia in the northeast. Once the war was won and the general feeling
in America was that this was a good and honor bearing conflict the Federalists seemed way
too out of touch with the people and so they eventually died out. So this new found sense of national pride
was probably one of the most significant consequences to emerge out of the War of 1812. Now all of the sudden, instead of focusing
on our own states and what would be best for them, we began looking at the union as a whole
and desiring to invest in it. An example of this came from congressman Henry
Clay. And he was known as the father of the American
System. And the American system had three main parts. Number one, a strong banking system which
would provide easy and abundant credit. Number two, a tariff which would protect American
industries which had been born during the war. And number three, the building of roads and
canals especially in the Ohio valley. Now some of this was implemented and some
of it was not, but that’s not what was important. What is important is to understand that America
began to see herself in a brand new way. Previously we had been the United States of
America. Now, all of the sudden, we were Murica. Mmhmm. I’ll see you next time.

12 thoughts on “The War of 1812 [AP U.S. History Review]

  1. Perry's battle took place in Lake Erie off the coast of Ohio. A monument to the victory is located on Middle Bass Island.

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