Our Finished Essay
Question: For 22 years, the foreign policy of two
Federalist presidents (Washington and Adams) and two Democratic-Republican presidents
(Jefferson and Madison) had continue to focus on a single aim: avoiding war with a
European power while at the same time defending U.S. neutral rights at sea. Explain why
the War of 1812 ended much as it started-- in stalemate. Include the immediate effects of
the war in your answer.
For 22 years, the foreign policy of two
Federalist presidents (Washington and Adams) and two Democratic-Republican presidents
(Jefferson and Madison) had continued to focus on a single aim: avoiding war with a
European power while at the same time defending U.S. neutral rights at sea. The majority
of the Americans felt that the war was caused by violations against them at sea, and in
addition, troubled relations with the British on the western part of the United States.
Among the other causes of the war were the cries of the War Hawks, nationalism, and pride
that the United States had the capability to win the war. A vigorous war was fought and
toward 1814, each side was becoming exhausted with the war. An agreement was made,
however, with lasting and long-term effects.
An impending issue between the British and the
United States was the impressment of American sailors. Furthermore, violations of U.S.
neutrality rights by the French and the British occurred. Other restrictions were placed
on the Americans by the government adding to their limitations from the already imposed
British impressments, "
No ship or vessel, owned in whole or in part by a
citizen of the United States, shall be permitted to clear out or depart from any port-- or
place within the limits of the United States or territories thereof to any foreign port or
" (G) In addition, the United States passed an act to encourage the
destruction of the armed vessels of an enemy. "
It shall be lawful for any
person or persons to burn, sink, destroy, any British armed vessel of war
Moreover, Americans tended to align with the French on matters involving Britain. This was
because of the grudge held against the British by the Americans due to the negative
effects experienced by the Americans after the American and French Revolutions.
Next, pressures from many different regions arose and increased and calls for war were
becoming evident. The major issue of time was expansion and exploration of open land in
the United States. Standing in their way as an obstacle were the British and the Indians
who were already settled. Moving and forcing Indians out of their houses and homes was a
predicament that scurrilous westerners had dealt with previously with success. After many
battles to acquire what they felt they could achieve, the Americans again blamed the
British for sparking the rebellions and insurrections.
On the issue of preparation for war, the
majority of the Republicans expressed what they felt were the true motives for the
instigation of the war. John Randolph, a Republican, stated that "
If you go to
war, it will not be for the protection of
your maritime rights. Agrarian
urges the war." (B) War was felt to be inevitable and we were
unprepared to fight a war. It was felt that the United States should maintain the status
quo, that is, being at peace. Correspondingly, Obadiah German stated
lost much of the spirit of war and chivalry possessed by our Revolutionary
" (D) In addition, nearly 1500 American vessels between 1803 and 1812
were seized posing the problem of whether the United States was prepared to fight. At
first, Americans preferred to respond with economic force rather than war. When the
Embargo Act was passed in 1807, the economy of the United States was seriously harmed
posing yet another dilemma.
According to many, nonetheless, our nationalism was running high and there were cries for
war throughout the United States. A group of new and young Republicans, known as War
Hawks, emerged. John C. Calhoun, leader of this group, said fighting a war was the only
means of maintaining American honor, obtaining Canada, and putting an end to Indian
rebellion. Futhermore, another War Hawk stated: "
the practice of impressing our
seamen, from merchant vessel; this unjust and lawless invasion of personal liberty, calls
loudly for the interposition of this Government
" (A) The introduction of our
national constitution and the struggle for rights gave Americans a sense of helping to
determine their fate as a nation. Voices were likewise heard in songs, ballads, and poems.
When justice and oppression dare avow the tyrant's plea
virtue bids us to
" (E) was sung. Americans had a common background and tradition and
identified themselves with the historical union of the nation. Many became frustrated with
Britain including President Madison. In his war message to Congress he stated
Against this crying enormity, which Great Britain would be so prompt to avenge
if committed against herself, the United States have in vain exhausted remonstrance's and
expostulations. The communication passed without effect
" (C) The United States
was getting nowhere with words and war was inevitable. President Madison
finally declared war against Great Britain. Numerous military defeats and naval victories
on each side occurred. But by 1814, the British grew consumed with the war against
Napolean on the European continent. Coincidentally, Madison realized that the United
States could not win decisively. On December 24, 1814, an accord was reached. The Treaty
of Ghent was signed after which the fighting halted, conquered territory was returned, and
the boundary between the United States and Canada was acknowledged.
The War of 1812 affected not only the United
States, but Great Britain and Native Americans as well. The United States did win several
of the battles that took place during the war. However, the British were still successful
in maintaining their blockade of the American coast as well as neutralizing the American
In the United States, the war produced economic and political effects. Although there were
many changes, American individualism never changed. Americans were unable to see the
reason in changing their militia system. They were defeated several times in the war;
however, they failed to realize they had manpower problem. Their militia system was
inadequate. Ignoring the problem, the political leaders of the time period declared that
the social and political conditions created setbacks on what could have been done to solve
the manpower problem. Although nothing altered in the manpower policy, the administrative
system was reorganized. There was an army general staff formed along with a Board of Navy
Commissioners. The system also changed in its responsibility of the army and navy.
The economic effects were positive and much
greater than those from the militia. There was the growth of manufacturers during and
after the war. There were technological developments including the steam engine. Demand
for products as well as prices increased due to dropping imports and the needs of the war
effort. Capital inundated New England and went to profitable manufacturers. The
political effects were just as significant. The War of 1812 led to the final downfall of
the Federalist party because of their opposition to this inevitable war. The Jeffersonians
saw this as an advantage but it eventually led to the display of the internal weaknesses
of their system. The Jeffersonian party split but even with this, the Republicans
continued to pass laws to create high tariffs, establish a second National Bank, and
building infrastructure. These political effects had a bigger impact on the United States
than any of the others. As for the Native Americans they were pushed farther west and
their great leader, Techumseh, died in battle. They had been abandoned by their British
allies and were forced to surrender large areas of land. Significantly, the
"West" quickly became the "East". The frontier used to be the western
border of the thirteen colonies. Over time, the border became the frontier of the
Appalachian Mountains and then in the early 19th century, the Mississippi and beyond.
In conclusion, nothing was done about the
problems that originally led to the War of 1812. There were no meetings to solve the
dilemma's and tensions caused by impressment and blockades. England's proposal for a
neutral Indian state to be used as a buffer state around the Great Lakes was not
addressed. Therefore, the War of 1812, ended much like it began-- in stalemate. This is
due to the fact that the war achieved none of its original aims. Neither side could
honestly be called the victor of the war. Each side had its gains while at the same time
each side also had its losses. However, the war did leave its mark on the American nation
and was called by many the "Second War of American Independence".
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