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War of 1812

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Luke Bailey

on 7 November 2018

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Transcript of War of 1812

War of 1812
We're in way over our heads
America was really not prepared for a war with Britain. For one thing, we had less than 7,000 regular troops (Great Britain had 15 times that many). We also only had 17 ships, with only 7 being frigates, while Britain had 1,000.

Luckily the British were also dealing with Napoleon.
The Americans really wanted to take Canada- especially the Republicans, who wanted more land for their agrarian ideal.

While we won some naval battles in the Great Lakes, ultimately this attempt was unsuccessful.
Battle of Horseshoe Bend
It's in this war that we meet our future president Andrew Jackson, who was a General.

Here's the thing about our pal Jackson- he did not like Native Americans. At all. We will get his career started by slaughtering 550 Creek Indians in Mississippi.
Attack on Washington
In 1814, Napoleon is in exile in Elba, so the British can finally focus more energy on America.

They prove just how outmatched we are by just waltzing into Washington D.C. and burning down the White House.

Fortunately, it rained that night, so it wasn't completely destroyed.
Famously, James Madison's wife will save the painting of George Washington from the flames.
Attack on Baltimore
The British will leave D.C. and proceed to Baltimore.

They will try to attack by the sea- a fort called Fort McHenry is protecting Baltimore. The fort holds firm despite a withering artillery barrage.

It's during this siege that Francis Scott Key writes "The Star Spangled Banner"- he watched the bombardment happen from a British prison ship.
U.S.S. Constitution vs H.M.S. Guerriere
One morale booster for the Americans will be a series of naval victories, the most famous involving the U.S.S. Constitution.

While America didn't have many ships, we had good ones- in fact many British captains noted that American ships were the only ones they feared.

In one famous engagement, the U.S.S. Constitution defeated a British frigate off the coast of Canada.
This is stupid
The British could have totally won the war if they really wanted to (kinda like the last time we fought...) but they didn't. It cost way too much money and frankly after Napoleon the British wanted some peace and quiet.

Little do they know Napoleon is about to come back...
Treaty of Ghent
Americans and Brits met in Ghent, Belgium to discuss a peace.

Basically they agreed that everything would go back to the way it was- they would just pretend like the war never happened.
Battle of New Orleans
There's a snag, however- it takes about a month for news to travel across Atlantic. During this time, our pal Andrew Jackson is defending New Orleans from a British invasion.

A ragtag group of regulars, militia, and pirates defend New Orleans perfectly- the British took over 2,000 casualties and the Americans under 100.

Despite the fact that this battle took place when the war was technically over, it cemented Jackson as a hero and made Americans feel they won the war.
Even though we didn't "technically" win the war (I mean, they burned down the White House) Americans felt like we did, largely because we whipped the British so bad in the final battle.

The Federalists who opposed the war withered away (they were considered "unpatriotic" and Republican dominance would continue, ushering in the Era of Good Feelings.
A reason American ships were so good is because they were partially built out of live oak, a tree that mainly grows in American swamps.

It is very dense and resistant to cannonballs, which gave the U.S.S. Constitution the nickname "Old Ironsides."
Party Shift
However, the Republican party now is not like the old party under Jefferson.

After the "success" of the war, the war hawks take over and enthuse about trade, westward expansion, and a strong army and navy- things the old Democratic Republicans weren't keen on.
Full transcript