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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 .

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war in europe resumes
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.


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.

a smuggled letter
A Smuggled Letter

“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.

americans are furious
Americans Are Furious

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 s embargo act
Jefferson’s Embargo Act
  • This policy forbade Americans to export or import any goods.
  • Britain and France were hurt, but American businesses were devastated. Farmers suffered, and sailors were out of work.
  • Exports dropped from $108 million to $22 million.

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.

madison as president
Madison as President
  • He was a quiet, scholarly man.
  • Like other presidents, he wanted to avoid war.
  • However, many Americans felt that if we didn’t stand up to Britain and France, we would never gain respect.
  • By 1812, many Americans definitely wanted war.
madison s new policy
Madison’s New Policy

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.

war hawks
War Hawks

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 and nationalism
War Hawks had a strong sense of NATIONALISM which is great pride and devotion to your country.

War Hawks felt Britain was still treating us as a colony. Senator Henry Clay was the most outspoken War Hawk.

War Hawks and Nationalism
Many War Hawks wanted war as an excuse to get revenge, and to also try and conquer Canada.

Some were also hoping to take over Spanish Florida, who was Britain’s ally at the time.

trouble in the west
Trouble in the West

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.

congress declares war
Congress Declares War
  • Many Americans firmly believed that Britain was behind the Indian troubles on the frontier.
  • In June of 1812, President Madison finally gave in to pressure and asked Congress to declare war.
The House vote was 79-49 in favor of war.
  • The Senate vote was 19-13.
  • Most opposition to the declaration of war came from New England.

Declaring war was much easier than trying to win it.

mixed reaction to the war
Mixed Reaction to the War

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”.

the u s was not prepared
The U.S. Was Not Prepared
  • We only had 16 ships to fight the British fleet.
  • The army was small and ill equipped.
  • We had to rely on volunteers.
They were offered 360 acres of land and $124 for their service – about a year’s pay. Lured by money and a chance to own land, many young men signed up.

Unfortunately they weren’t trained well, and many deserted after only a few months. Some refused to even fight unless they were paid.

fighting at sea
Fighting at Sea
  • The British were surprised by the declaration of war. At first they couldn’t spare many troops, but they did send over ships to blockade ports.
  • Although we did have a small navy, we did have some successes against the British navy.

“Old Ironsides” still sits in the harbor of Boston, Massachusetts

  • These victories did cheer Americans, but they did little to actually win the war.
  • One of the most famous ships of the war was the U.S.S. Constitution, known as “Old Ironsides”.
  • It is still a commissioned ship of the U. S. Navy.
war in the west
War in the West

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.

a message of surrender
A Message of Surrender

“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.

the british burn washington
The British Burn Washington

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.

the bombardment of baltimore
The Bombardment of Baltimore

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.

the battle of new orleans
The Battle of New Orleans

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.

peace at last
If news had been able to travel faster, the battle wouldn’t have taken place. An agreement to stop fighting had actually been signed on Christmas Eve, 1814.

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
the treaty of ghent
The Treaty of Ghent
  • Both sides agreed to return matters to the way they had been before the war. All conquered land was returned.
  • The treaty said nothing about impressment or neutrality – some of the key reasons for going to war!!!
Some argued the war was worthless, but others said European countries would treat the United States with more respect.
  • During the blockade, we had become more reliant on ourselves.
  • Overall, many people felt the country was now more united, and more “American”.