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Troubles with European countries boil over into a second war with the British…. War in Europe Resumes. In 1803, Britain and France had resumed their war . Neither side wanted American products to reach their enemy . Between 1805 and 1807 hundreds of American ships were captured .
Troubles with European countries boil over into a second war with the British…
In 1803, Britain and France had resumed their war. Neither side wanted American products to reach their enemy. Between 1805 and 1807 hundreds of American ships were captured.
Britain desperately needed more men to fight its war with France, so they resumed an old practice of forcing people into the military. Gangs kidnapped young men and forced them into the navy. This was called IMPRESSMENT.
“Being on shore one day in Lisbon, Portugal, I was seized by a gang and brought on board the British ship Conqueror, where I am still confined. Never have I been allowed to put my foot on shore since I was brought on board, which is now three years.”
James Brown — American Sailor
British warships frequently stopped our ships and searched for British sailors, who may have deserted. Even worse, many American sailors were also taken.
Most Americans were mad that Britain was attacking our ships and kidnapping our sailors. Many called for war against Britain, but President Jefferson knew we weren’t prepared.
Jefferson realized the Embargo Act had been a disaster. A new law was passed, allowing Americans to trade with all nations except Britain and France. The results weren’t that much better.
Even though these laws had not worked, and the economy was hurting, Democratic-Republicans remained fairly strong. Jefferson followed tradition and stepped down after two terms. His friend James Madison ran for office, and was easily elected. He hoped Britain and France would respect our neutrality.
President Madison announced that whichever country would agree to stop attacking our ships, we would do business with that nation, and stop all trade with the other one. Almost immediately, France accepted this offer, and trade was totally cut off with Britain.
Except in New England where people wanted to resume trading with Britain, anti-British feeling was strong around the country. Congressmen and Senators from the South and the West who wanted to go to war with Britain were called WAR HAWKS.
War Hawks felt Britain was still treating us as a colony. Senator Henry Clay was the most outspoken War Hawk.War Hawks and Nationalism
Some were also hoping to take over Spanish Florida, who was Britain’s ally at the time.
War Hawks were also mad, because they thought the British were stirring up trouble with Native Americans on the frontier. As more and more settlers pushed into the western territories, tensions began to rise. Native Americans found it difficult to unite, because they themselves had many different rivalries.
Declaring war was much easier than trying to win it.
Many Americans were excited to hear about the declaration of war against Britain. Some called for an attack on Canada. A lot of New Englanders were disgusted by the news, and referred to the conflict as “Mr. Madison’s war”.
Unfortunately they weren’t trained well, and many deserted after only a few months. Some refused to even fight unless they were paid.
“Old Ironsides” still sits in the harbor of Boston, Massachusetts
Americans did invade Canada, but General Isaac Brock tricked the Americans. He dressed his troops to look like well-trained Redcoats. He also let a false “secret” message fall into American hands that made it sound like thousands of Indians were fighting on the British side. The Americans retreated.
In September 1813, the Americans took control of Lake Erie. We invaded Canada again, in search of the British and the Indian leader Tecumseh. At the Battle of the Thames, Tecumseh was killed, and the Indian CONFEDERATION he had worked so hard to create, collapsed.
Indians in the South were divided on what to do. Some wanted to keep fighting the settlers. Andrew Jackson, from Tennessee, led troops against the Creek Indians. With help from the Cherokees, the Creeks were defeated at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend.
“I am in your power. Do unto me as you please…If I had an army I would yet fight, and contend to the last….But your people have destroyed my nation.
*Creek Leader surrendering to Andrew Jackson.
By 1814, Britain and its allies had defeated France. Now more ships and troops could be sent to the U. S. They sailed into Chesapeake Bay just south of Washington, and scattered our trips. They marched toward the capital, and once there, began to burn some of the public buildings.
The President’s wife, Dolley Madison, was able to gather up some of the President’s important papers, and a famous portrait of George Washington. The president’s mansion was burned. Later after the war, it was covered with “whitewash” to cover the burned wood. It has been called the White House ever since.
After burning Washington, D. C., the British marched north to the key port city of Baltimore. Protecting the city in the harbor was a fort called Fort McHenry. One night, from evening to dawn of the next day, the British continually bombed the fort.
On board the ship was a young American who was being detained. Throughout the night he watched to see if a large American flag that was flying over the fort remained. As “the bombs burst in the air” he could still see the flag. “In the dawn’s early light”, the flag was still there.
Francis Scott Key, the young American, was moved by what he saw, and wrote a poem called “The Star-Spangled Banner”. The poem was set to music, and eventually became our national anthem.
In late 1814, the British prepared to attack New Orleans, and take control of the Mississippi River. Andrew Jackson led thousands of American troops that included a wide variety of different Americans. Jackson’s troops dug trenches to defend themselves.
That January, the British attacked. In the ensuing battle, the British kept charging, but couldn’t overcome the Americans. Over 2,000 British fell, but only 7 Americans were killed. Jackson became a national hero. The sad thing was that the battle took place AFTER a peace treaty had already been signed.
Some New Englanders who had been plotting to break away from the United States quickly gave up the idea when they heard that peace had been achieved.Peace At Last