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War of 1812


  • Beginning July, 1789, France underwent a revolution

  • European monarchs watched with alarm as members of the Third Estate forced France's King Louis XVI to move back to Paris to rule as a Constitutional Monarch.

  • French war with Austria

  • In 1791, Austrian King Leopold and Prussian Frederick William II issued the Declaration of Pillnitz threatening consequences if harm befell King Louis or his family.

  • France declared war on Austria in retaliation on April 20, 1792.

  • French war with Britain

  • On January 21, 1793, the French revolutionary government executed Louis XVI for treason.

  • Ten days later (Feb. 1, 1793) France declared war against Britain

  • Which until that time was neutral, but allied to Spain, Austria and Prussia

  • Napoleon

  • Became 1st Consul, 1799 and Emperor of France, 1804

  • Defeated Russia & Austria (Battle of Austerlitz) in 1805

  • Defeated Prussia at Battles of Jena and Auerstedt 1806

  • Treaties of Tilsit 1807

  • Uneasy peace with Prussia and Russia

  • Only Britain was left to fight France




  • US had mutual assistance treaty with France

  • For helping U.S. against Britain in War of Independence)

  • Loopholes:

  • US would join France against GB only if Britain was aggressor

  • Agreement was made with Louis XVI (who had been killed)

Citizen Genêt

  • April 1793, French minister Edmond Genêt came to South Carolina to recruit American privateers (raiders) to seize British ships.

  • But US had proclaimed neutrality.

  • Washington commanded Genet to stop and go back to France.

  • Genet fearful of French Reign of Terror, asked US for political asylum.


  • Britain blocking trade

  • Britain made an effort to block trade to France by neutral vessels (American merchants) carrying grain and livestock to the French West Indies (Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint Domingue/Haiti)

  • Impressment

  • From 1793-4 the British seized 600 American vessels (1/2 in West Indies)

  • Sailors on these ships were forced ("pressed") into service on British ships

  • Because British Royal Navy was short-handed

  • British claimed the American seamen were British because they were born in GB.

  • Jay's Treaty, 1794

  • Washington sent Chief Justice John Jay to Britain to settle issues.

  • But Jay was too friendly with British

  • British agreed to:

  • Compensate Americans whose ships had been seized

  • Open some trade in India to Americans

  • Evacuate British forts in western US (old promise from 1783)

  • Nothing resolved regarding impressment

  • Nor about British helping Indians in northwest (see Tecumseh)

  • Nor American slaves that had escaped to British Canada.

  • Jay's treaty caused uproar among Americans

  • Esp. southern Jeffersonian Republicans


  • Spain, fearful of U.S.-Br. alliance concluded a treaty with U.S.

  • Resolved territorial disputes (see map)

  • Granted U.S. ships right to free navigation on Mississippi River

  • Duty-free transport through port of New Orleans

  • And "right of deposit" - storing and selling exports in New Orleans port.

  • Treaty calmed outrage of Americans from Kentucky, Tennessee and Northwest Territory




  • Forbade American ships to set sail for foreign ports

  • Foreign ships had to leave with no cargoes

  • All imports and exports prohibited.

  • Belief that British and French would give in because of importance of trade in American goods

  • Reduced American exports from $108 million to $22 million.

  • Hurt U.S. business and traders more than Britain

  • Britain found resources in other colonies + smuggling.


  • U.S. opened trade to all European countries except Britain and France.

MACON'S BILL NO. 2, 1810

  • Congress modified non-intercourse

  • Offered to open commerce with either Britain or France.

  • If either of the two stopped disrupting American shipping, the U.S would cut off trade with the other country.

  • Pledged U.S would be economic ally to either France or Britain - whichever acted first.

  • France (Napoleon) acted first

  • Napoleon revoked parts of Continental System that prevented American trade.

  • U.S. resumed trade with France


  • U.S. would no longer buy British goods (which hurt Britain's economy)

  • 1812, Britain revoked Orders in Council and ended restrictions on American trade in Europe.

  • But too late

  • U.S. Congress had already declared war on Britin



  • Reasons U.S. declared war on Britain

  • To punish Britain for destroying U.S. ship U.S.S. Constitution

  • Impressment

  • Border disputes with Canada (War Hawks wanted to take Canada)

  • War Hawks

  • Henry Clay (KY) and John C. Calhoun (SC) called for war with G.B.

  • British were supporting Indian tribes in West

  • Geographical differences in U.S.

  • War would hurt New England merchants.

  • But Southern and Western farmers wanted war

  • They blamed British for clashes with Indians (see Battle of Tippecanoe)


WAR (1812-1814)


  • First Bank of U.S. lost charter 1811 - made financing war difficult.


  • Madison ordered invasion of Canada (despite weak U.S. military)

  • Three directions: from Detroit, Niagara Falls, up Hudson River (all failed)

  • Riots in Baltimore Maryland break out in protest of war.


  • April, 1813 U.S. capture and burn Canadian city of York (Toronto)

  • September, 1813 U.S. Commodore Oliver Perry attacked British fleet on Lake Erie.

  • October, 1813 Shawnee Indian Chief Tecumseh (British ally) killed in Battle of Thames.

  • Napoleon defeated by Sixth Coalition at Battle of Leipzig, Oct. 181


  • April 1814, Napoleon exiled to Elba.

  • August, 1814 While fighting taking place in Canada, British enter Washington DC.

  • British enter unopposed because of poorly trained U.S. militia.

  • Madison flees

  • In retaliation for attack on York (Toronto) British burn down White House and Capitol then head to Baltimore, MD.

  • September, 1814 British troops bombard Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland

  • British lose

  • Francis Scott Key writes "Star-Spangled Banner" while aboard a British ship.

  • September, 1814 British take control of Lake Champlain and advance on to New York.

  • December, 1814 Federalists in New England meet at Hartford, Connecticut to discuss their opposition to the war (see below)

  • December 24, 1814 British and Americans sign Treaty of Ghent ending war.


  • January 8-18, 1815 Andrew Jackson fights and wins Battle of New Orleans.

  • February, 1815 Napoleon escapes from Elba, takes control of France again.

  • June, 1815, Napoleon defeated again by Seventh Coalition at Battle of Waterloo

  • Exiled to Saint Helena island in Atlantic Ocean.



  • Ended War

  • Napoleon had been defeated

  • = End of war between Britain and France

  • = No need for impressment or embargoes.

  • Restored prewar boundaries

  • But no mention of impressment or trade rights (moot point because of end of war in Europe)



  • After war had ended

  • British fleet with 7,500 men landed near New Orleans

  • Americans under Andrew Jackson defended New Orleans with bales of cotton (absorbed British bullets)

  • Created surge in patriotism.

  • Americans had won a second "War of Independence" against Br. without help of France.



(December 15, 1814 – January 5, 1815)

  • Federalists in New England badly affected by the disruption of trade during War of 1812

  • Met in Hartford, Connecticut to discuss grievances

  • Decisions made:

  • Radicals of New England threatened to secede from the U.S.

  • And sign separate peace with Britain

  • Convention attendees wanted to:

  • Remove 3/5 clause (which favored Southern slave owners)

  • Prohibit trade embargoes lasting over 60 days.

  • Limit presidents to one term and be from different state from previous president (to eliminate dominance of Virginia).

  • Require 2/3 majority in Congress for:

  • Declarations of war

  • Laws restricting trade

  • Admission of new state

  • Hartford Convention was very unpopular.

  • Because of patriotism - especially after victory in New Orleans.

  • Led to end of Federalist party.

  • And Era of Good Feelings after the War of 1812.

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