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The War of 1812; The War Nobody Won; The War Nobody Lost and The War Nobody Remembers

November 5th, 2012
Judith · Staff Recommendations

Over two hundred years ago on June 18, 1812 the young republic of the United States of America declared war on Great Britain, then the World’s greatest power. Congress had declared war at the request of President James Madison. His reasons for going to war were the impressment of American sailors by the British and the interference in American trade by the British. Impressment was the removal of American citizens of British birth serving in the American navy. However, there was another reason why Congress declared war on Great Britain and that was the Conquest of Canada. These members of Congress were called the War Hawks and they were mostly from the South and the West. Interestingly, the states that border on Canada such as New York were not interested in conquering Canada and indeed had good relations with their Canadian neighbors.

The War of 1812 ended on December 24, 1814 when both sides signed a peace treaty in Ghent, Belgium. By the terms of the treaty everything was to be just as it was before the War of 1812 began and for over two hundred years, Great Britain (and of course, Canada) and the United States have been at peace and indeed, have become very close allies. Ironically the only battle from the War of 1812 that most Americans know of is the Battle of New Orleans which was won by American soldiers on January 8, 1815 after the peace treaty had been signed.

Some books on the War of 1812 are:

Mr. and Mrs. Madison’s War: America’s First Couple and the Second War of Independence by Hugh Howard.The author presents a gripping account of the hostilities as President Madison and the First lady experienced them.

The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, & Indian Allies by Alan Taylor.This book covers the War of 1812 on the American and Canadian border. It was a world of double identities, slippery allegiances and porous boundaries. After all the Canadian Loyalists were those Americans who supported the King during the American Revolution and many Loyalists and Patriots were related.

1812: The War That Forged a Nation by Walter R. Borneman.The War of 1812 proved one thing; the United States was to remain an independent country.

Tecumseh: A Life by John Sugden.Tecumseh was the legendary Shawnee chief who dreamed of a separate Indian Confederacy and who fought on the side of the British. He was killed during the War of 1812 and was respected by both the Americans and the British.

If by Sea: The Forging of the American Navy–From the Revolution to the War of 1812 by George D. Daughan.This book was not just about the War of 1812 but we learn about the Battle of Plattsburg (or the Battle of Lake Champlain) one of the most important American victories during the War of 1812 and it helped stopped a proposed British invasion of New York State and New England.

Union 1812: The Americans Who Fought the Second War of Independence by A.J. Langguth.Not all Americans supported the War of 1812 and indeed while the Peace Treaty of Ghent was being negotiated, the Hartford Convention was being held and New England considered leaving the United States.

War of 1812 by Miriam Greenblatt.A Young Adult book and very nicely illustrated.

The Battle of New Orleans by Donald Barr Chidsey.This book is an on-the-scene account of the Battle of New Orleans. The Battle of New Orleans is probably the most famous battle of the War of 1812 and ironically it was fought after the Peace Treaty had been signed. It was an American victory.

The American Invasion of Canada: 1812-1813 by Pierre Berton.Pierre Berton was a well known and respected Canadian writer. He states in his introduction that this book deals with the war that Canada won, or to put it more precisely did not lose.

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