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The War of 1812 - Essay Example

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Though both France and England placed a host of restrictions on American trade with the "enemy", the British policy of impressments proved most egregious to the United States (Roark, et al; pp. 218). "Between 1807 and 1812, around 2,500 men were captured by British commanders and impressed into Royal Naval service." (Roark, et al; pp…
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In 1807, Jefferson persuade Congress to pass a drastic measure, the Embargo Act, prohibiting American ships from engaging in any trade with any foreign port; he thought it would punish the British by denying them American agricultural goods, but, instead, it was "a complete disaster for the economy" (Roark; pp. 218-219). It hit New England merchants and southern planters particularly hard, bringing trade to standstill. It was also hard to enforce, and had little of the intended impact on the British who simply turned to South American countries for agricultural goods. (Roark; pp. 218-219). The embargo stayed in place until Jefferson left office, but was then replaced by the Non-Intercourse Act of 1809 which prohibited trade with only Britain, France, and other colonial possessions (Roark, et al; pp.218-219). In 1810 the Act expired and was replaced by a new law that reopened free commercial relations with either Britain or France, whichever stopped restrictions on neutral shipping first. (Roark, et al; pp.218-219). Napoleon, wanting to entice the United States into re-imposing its embargo against England, declared that France would never interfere with American shipping. Madison believed the French and reinstated the embargo against England, but French leaders continued to seize American ships. Many Americans felt that the nation was on the verge of war, but were unsure whether the correct target was England or France (Roark, et al; pp.219-220)
"But maritime issues were only part of the reason for the conflict between the United States and Britain" which led up to the 1812 War. (Roark, et al; pp.219-220). In the face of constant encroachments of white settlers west onto Indian lands, Indians began consolidating alliances with British Indian agents (Roark, et al; pp.219-220). American concern over this was compounded by the two "dynamic Shawnee Indian leaders", war Chief Tecumseh, and his mystical brother Tenskwatawa, known as the "prophet", who united many tribes of Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan in a confederation to protect their lands. (Roark, et al; pp.219-220). The Governor of Indiana Territory, William Henry Harrison, negotiated a treaty with "unrepresentative Indians" to purchase three million acres of territory at bargain prices, thus helping Tecumseh work with southern tribes as well. In 1811, alarmed at the brothers' growing power, Harrison met the Shawnees at Tippecanoe Creek, and captured and destroyed their stronghold, Prophetstown. (Roark, et al; pp. 220-222). After Tippecanoe, Tecumseh allied with British military commanders in Lower Canada, and American conflicts with the Indians soon merged into a broader confrontation with England. In June 1812, Congress declared war on England in a "sectionalized vote" with New Englanders largely opposing it (Roark, et al; pp. 223). The war did not go well: a planned invasion of Canada failed, and the British grabbed forts on the Great Lakes. On the home front, New Englanders, led by Federalist merchants, openly opposed the war, and carried on illegal trade with England. (Roark, et al; pp. 223). Federalists gained political strength in the election of 1812, demonstrating discontent with the war. American fortunes improved somewhat with ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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