Aggravated by British attempts to control neutral shipping while fighting Napoleon, the US determined to declare war on Great Britain.
British orders-in-council, in the opinion of the Americans, violated the rights of nations to trade. And they did. Britain was determined to apply a blockade to prevent goods and weapons from entering France and determined that it could not allow neutral nations to continue to supply their enemy.
As well, the British had stopped US flagged ships, looking for deserters from the RN. RN service was not as profitable as sailing with a private company or ship and so sailors would desert.
There had been a couple of incidents at sea in which sailors from GB and the US died in the years before the war. Any of those could have led to war but did not.
There was the matter of honour as well. The US considered that the British were insulting them by boarding their ships and the War Hawks including William Henry Harrison were anxious to answer the insults to the nation's pride.
The vote in the Senate was 19-13 in favour of going to war but this war was not very popular, not only in the Senate but among the people as well. The states in the NE part of the US were engaging in a healthy trade with the British colonies and saw no reason to disrupt the flow of goods across the line.
Certainly the US was not ready for this war and that showed in the first two years of conflict.
As well, the British had rescinded two offending orders-in-council, two days before war was declared and five days after the declaration, all five orders had been rescinded. There was therefore, no reason to fight any longer but we know that the timeline to communicate between Europe and North America was measured in weeks.
I am not sure when Madison received the information that the British orders had been rescinded. General Hull invaded Canada on July 12, 1812. Did Madison have the information that would have allowed him to call off the invasion before July 12?
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."
June 18, 1812. James Madison declares war
6/21/2020 5:03:34 PM
Thanks Dave. The final comment in the video, was that the War of 1812, "forged the destiny of a continent for the next 200 years." I tend to feel that this war deserves much more attention than it gets and that applies to the sentiments in my country. I would say that the western provinces and BC do not relate fully to this event in our history whereas Ontario and, to a lesser extent, Québec, have great reason to pay attention.
Some of the most vicious battles of this war took place on the Niagara Peninsula and especially in 1814.
Before the Americans left Canada and crossed the Niagara River, they were engaged by the British forces that laid siege to Fort Erie, which the Americans had captured. The Americans fought bravely and hard and threw back the British troops who attacked again and again.
The Americans did decide to leave but they also left behind some of their dead. In 1987, a developer unearthed the remains of 28 American soldiers, as he prepared to install foundations for homes.
All work was stopped and the archeologists were called in to determine the identities of the bodies.
This video is the story of the repatriation of those soldiers in 1988.
The video reminds me that since 1812, peace and friendship between British North America and the US and later, Canada and the US has prevailed. We are going through a rough patch right now and hopefully through diplomacy, better relations will be restored.