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Mr. Madison’s War
The War of 1812
• The “War Hawks” were angry because
they found out that England had been
supplying the Indians with guns to use
against American settlers.
• On the high seas, Britain had used
impressment, or the drafting of
American sailors into its navy,
capturing many Americans.
In 1807, Jefferson announced an
embargo to punish the English, which
closed American ports and led to an
economic slump.
Despite these problems,
Jefferson’s Secretary of State
James Madison was easily
elected president in 1808.
By 1812 the situation was
bad enough that Madison
decided to declare war on
Great Britain
• Because of Jefferson’s cuts to the
military, the U.S. was not ready for a
full-scale war with England.
• An attack on Canada failed, even
though the Americans managed to
take Detroit, and had some successes
on Lake Erie.
• By the end of 1813, though, the war
didn’t look good for the Americans.
The British navy had American ships
bottled up in their ports.
In 1814, the British were attacking all up and down the Atlantic coast.
On August 24, British troops entered Washington, D.C. forcing
President Madison and others to flee.
The British burned the White House along with several other buildings.
In Baltimore, lawyer Francis Scott Key
witnessed the British attack on Fort
McHenry from a British ship. When he
saw the flag still flying, he wrote a poem
known as the “Star Spangled Banner,”
which would become the national
While the British were attacking Washington and Baltimore, General
Andrew Jackson was gathering troops to protect New Orleans. He
won a major victory against the British there.
At the same time the Treaty of Ghent had been negotiated, bringing an
end to the fighting, or armistice.
Very little changed, but the two nations were at peace.
Most outstanding issues were resolved in the years immediately after
the war.
Commerce resumed between England and the United States.
In 1817, the two sides agreed to the Rush-Bagot Treaty, which limited
the number of warships on the Great Lakes.
The two nations set the boundary between the United States at the
49th parallel as far as the Rocky Mountains and agreed to jointly occupy
the Oregon Territory.
In 25 years, the United States had doubled its size and made itself
secure. It would not go to war with England again.