Discussion in 'Military History' started by W.G.Ewald, May 22, 2012.
The Official War of 1812 Bicentennial Website - Celebrating 200 years of peace
U.S. Revenue Cutters in the War of 1812
US-UK relations were very hostile from the declaration of indepedance to around the 1890s where both countries fought hot and cold wars as well as proxy wars. Some also call it the 100 year "war" between the US and UK.
Ultimately when UK realised that US had become powerful and agreed to give away the dominance of the Western hemisphere by not interefering there we saw the Great Rapproahcment which got stregthened during WWI and WWII and continues to this day. Many would have no idea how hostile US-UK relations were during the 1800s by looking at their relations today,
Relations were indeed hostile on a state level, but there also existed very strong people-to-people ties and economic ties during the same time period (U.S.-U.K. trade was among the largest in the world, even in those days). Throughout the 19th century, there was considerable cultural interaction between Britain and America, and the average Briton and the average American generally held each other in good esteem; after all, they were both "civilised Anglo-Saxon nations", and considering that the majority of Americans of that time were of English descent and many of America's early leaders had been born in Britain, such ties were to be expected. The state-level hostility between the two countries was mostly a fallout of America's War of Independence, which was still fresh in the minds of many Americans, and its associated ideological fervor. Lingering suspicion about British attempts to expand their political influence in North America also contributed to the hostility; for example, the British regularly supplied various Native American tribes (who feared U.S. encroachment on their lands) with weapons and gunpowder, which was one of the main causes of the War of 1812. But even in that war, only a few Americans supported war with Britain, namely the War Hawk faction, and the war was generally unpopular among common Americans, to the extent that it was contemporaneously referred to as "Mr. Madison's War".
Another cause was impressment.
Impressment - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Conflict with the United States
Well the US-UK relationship is an example that is used in International Relations theory of how peace can break out in seemingly hostile countrie.
People to people relations and "civilisational links" account for nothing when you talk about state level relations. And trade affects this only partially. For example, in Indo-Pak relations as well, you will find a large number of people-to-people contacts and much stronger civilisational links than between US/UK even. But that has not impact on the state level relations. Similarly, while people-to-people relations were there, the policy makers in the US and UK both had hostile and suspicious attitude to one another. The period between 1890s-1900s is know as the Great Rapproachment were UK initiated a series of CBM which were reciprocated by the US which eventually led to the "special relationship".
And with the rapproachment, the public officials also changed their rhetoric and started calling each other brothers and the conflict between the as a "civil war" which must end. In any case, the 1800s is a very interesting period of US history to read up on.
A good article on how to turn "Enemies to Friends" is here(http://terpconnect.umd.edu/~kmcm/Articles/Enemies Into Friends.pdf) with excerpts below. The author also wrote a book based on this research which is also a good read
Britain in the American Civil War - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
War of 1812
The War of 1812: When the U.S. Invaded Canada â€” and Failed
Two hundred years ago on June 18, the U.S. declared war on Great Britain. What followed is known as the War of 1812, a conflict whose bicentennial will be marked very differently by the U.S. and Canada
By ISHAAN THAROOR
Time June 18, 2012
â€œThe scene witnessed,â€ begins a newspaper dispatch from the front lines of an American war, â€œwas horrible beyond description.â€ Lying scattered across the battlefield were â€œthe mangled limbs and mutilated bodies of the poor fellows who were exploded into eternity.â€ The correspondent for the Connecticut Courant continues, â€œThose who were alive were objects of the most wretched commiseration, they passed me in bodies of twenty and thirty, led to the waterâ€™s edge, their eyes burnt out, their faces perfectly raw and black.â€ The wounded men, the story concludes, were â€œliving monuments of human misery.â€
This did not take place in Normandy or Vietnam or Iraq, but by the shores of Lake Erie. And the â€œliving monuments of human miseryâ€ were American soldiers and militiamen charged with a task that few of their descendants now remember: to invade and capture a land that was then British territory, and today Canada.
Two centuries ago on June 18, the U.S. Congress â€” the assembly of the then fledgling, insecure Republic â€” declared war on Great Britain. The plan dreamed up in Washington was simple: wrest control of Britainâ€™s remaining territories in North America and then bring a humbled empire to the negotiating table. What followed is now known as the War of 1812, though the conflict â€” a largely confused, indecisive affair â€” dragged on until the end of 1814.
As its bicentennial is commemorated, the war occupies a small, strange space in Americaâ€™s historical imagination, cast in a shadow by the liberating glory of the earlier Revolutionary War and the trauma and horror of the Civil War, which followed five decades later. Some historians characterize it as a second chapter in the U.S.â€™s struggle for independence; others say it was a footnote to the great Napoleonic wars taking place on the other side of the Atlantic. And some just find it exasperating. Richard Hofstadter, the eminent 20th century American political historian, described the War of 1812 as â€œludicrous and unnecessary,â€ the product of an era â€œof fumbling and small-minded statecraftâ€ and â€œterrible parochial wrangling.â€ Itâ€™s almost an inconvenience, a story that doesnâ€™t fit in the grand procession of American history.
For the Americans who know something about it, the War of 1812 is a string of myths, isolated, framed snapshots of heroism. Itâ€™s the smoke-shrouded naval bombardment that gave birth to â€œThe Star-Spangled Banner.â€ Itâ€™s when the British sacked Washington and burned down the Presidentâ€™s house â€” a humiliation somehow redeemed by First Lady Dolley Madisonâ€™s rescuing a painting of George Washington. And for those who were particularly attentive in school, itâ€™s the war in which future President Andrew Jackson thrashed the British at New Orleans (a battle fought, unbeknownst to both sides, after American and British envoys had settled peace terms across the Atlantic).
Whatever snippets have been committed to memory, though, they donâ€™t quite add up. â€œAmericans have found a way of both forgetting and remembering various bits and pieces of the war,â€ says John Stagg, a professor of history at the University of Virginia and the author of The War of 1812: Conflict for a Continent. â€œBut what theyâ€™re left with, in and of itself, makes no sense.â€
North of the border, in Canada, thereâ€™s no shortage of mythmaking either, but the narrative there does make more sense. Rather than get swallowed up by the rebellious Republic to the south, the defiant British colonies that comprised Canada would peaceably emerge as an independent nation with a political system drawn much more from London than Washington. â€œItâ€™s a very defining moment for Canada,â€ says Mark Zuehlke, a Canadian military historian. â€œIf those invasions had succeeded, we probably wouldnâ€™t exist.â€ From the war, Canadians gained an array of national heroes â€” not least Laura Secord, a dowdy housewife turned Paul Revere, who, as one fanciful account goes, crept past enemy lines with a milk pail in hand and cow in tow to inform the unsuspecting British of an approaching American force.
Even as it slashes spending and lays off public-sector workers, the conservative administration of Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper is pumping in funds â€” more than $28 million â€” to commemorate the warâ€™s bicentennial. The Canadian government is minting special coins, issuing stamps, erecting new monuments, revamping museum exhibits, paying for dozens of historical reenactments and even launching its own War of 1812 smart-phone app. While historians applaud Harper for his interest in Canadaâ€™s heritage, some see a political agenda. â€œThey wish to have Canadians identify with the military and conservative values,â€ says Terry Copp, director of the Laurier Centre for Military and Strategic Disarmament Studies and a leading Canadian military historian. â€œBy the time we get through the fall, thereâ€™s going to be a lot of ink spilled, a lot of fireworks exploded.â€
In contrast, in the U.S., no national bicentennial commission has been set up to coordinate or fund a memorial. Maryland â€” home of Fort McHenry, the redoubt that inspired Francis Scott Key â€” is the only American state to take the war seriously. It has issued a commemorative license plate. The U.S. Navy has planned a number of ceremonies celebrating some of its surprising victories over the mighty British fleet. But the real arena of the war was on land, running along whatâ€™s now the U.S.-Canada border. And the U.S. Army remains conspicuously silent as the bicentennial approaches. â€œItâ€™s very hard to commemorate blunders and what looked like fairly pointless exercises,â€ says Copp.
A Just War?
Itâ€™s also hard to commemorate a conflict whose origins are still debated and misunderstood. In a message coaxing Congress to war, U.S. President James Madison argued that Britain had pursued â€œa series of acts hostile to the United States.â€ With the Napoleonic wars raging across Europe, the British navy had taken to shanghaiing Americans in foreign ports and at sea to fill out its wartime fleets. Already bristling at laws intended to thwart American merchants from trading with France, many in the U.S. grew infuriated by what they saw as blatant disrespect of their young nationâ€™s independence and neutrality â€” no small matter for a country whose future was still very much in doubt.
There were other reasons too. Madisonâ€™s Republican Party drew much of its support from the landed gentry and rural folk of the South and what was then the American West â€” a vast borderland threading the Mississippi basin up to the Great Lakes. â€œAn incipient kind of manifest destiny,â€ says Stagg, inflamed many here, and there was a growing desire to punish the British in Canada, who it was thought were abetting Native American tribes in the region hostile to American encroachment. A successful campaign against weak, sparsely populated Canada and its native allies could settle the future of the frontier.
Closer to home, Madisonâ€™s Republicans also wanted a cudgel with which to beat their real enemies â€” the rival Federalists, whose base lay in the more developed, urban states of New England where trade and good relations with the British Crown mattered far more than westward expansion. â€œThe war was brought on as much by internal tensions as external ones with the British empire,â€ says Alan Taylor, a Pulitzer Prizeâ€“winning historian and the author of The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Indian Allies and Irish Rebels.
In the heated buildup to the war (and indeed, while it was waged), the Republicans saw the Federalists as crypto-Brits, Tory traitors who would sell out the American Republic and trade secrets and supplies with the enemy (some Federalists did aid the British in Canada while the war was fought). The Federalists, in turn, painted the Republicans as demagogic quasi-Frenchmen who would sooner ally themselves to the imperialist warmonger Napoleon â€” a figure who loomed large in the imagination at the time â€” than their real brethren in the U.K. (No one had any idea in 1812 that the ambitious Corsican would be defeated and imprisoned within three years.)
Not one Federalist in Congress voted for what was called â€œMr. Madisonâ€™s war.â€ Had three votes swung in the other direction in the Senate, the measure would not have passed at all. As the news of war trickled north, many Federalists reacted with anger and despair. The Courant in Connecticut, a paper with Federalist loyalties, published the lines, â€œDissatisfaction, disgust and apprehensions of the most alarming nature have seized on every mind â€¦ The evil is here, it is upon us.â€ Until the Vietnam War, no foreign conflict would be as unpopular and divisive in the U.S. as the War of 1812.
The Future of a Continent
Those who supported the war did so with a fair amount of hubris. The sparse population of Upper Canada â€” now Ontario â€” was indistinguishable from the country to the south. â€œThey were essentially Americans who crossed the border because land was plentiful,â€ says Copp, and the allegiance of these â€œlate loyalistsâ€ was a source of concern for the British. Thomas Jefferson, a former President and Republican grandee, boasted that capturing Upper Canada would be a â€œmere matter of marching.â€ A dispatch in the Palladium, a paper in Frankfort, Ky., invoked the noble cause of the Revolutionary War: â€œMay the mighty spirit which animates the feeble frame of the veteran hero, diffuse itself among the military sons of our country, and enable them to tear from the ramparts of Quebec the last emblem of British power in America.â€
But the first American invasion of Upper Canada ended in ignominy. â€œThe U.S. needed a professional army in the worst way, but they didnâ€™t have it,â€ says Taylor. â€œThey had to fall back on calling up state militia, men who were complete amateurs, with virtually no training or discipline.â€ Nor did it help that the general in command, William Hull, was deemed later by one of his subordinates as an â€œimbesile [sic] or treacherous commander.â€ After grandiosely marching into Canada, Hull dithered, retreating back to Detroit, where a British counteroffensive smaller in size, led by Sir Isaac Brock and the Shawnee war chief Tecumseh â€” two other figures now mythologized in Canada â€” barely had to fire a shot before Hull opted to surrender himself and his 2,500 troops. Most of the captives were â€œparoled,â€ sent back to their homes after promising to no longer fight. The few hundred, including Hull, who were kept as prisoners were described by a British officer as â€œthe poorest looking sett [sic] of men I have seen for a long time.â€
This, in a sense, set the tone for the rest of the War of 1812. By the Great Lakes and over the Niagara and St. Lawrence rivers, American and British forces â€” a motley combination of regulars, Canadian militia and indigenous war bands â€” bumbled and skirmished. Battles were by and large short-lived and inglorious, characterized more by confusion than strategy. Poor planning on the American side led to countless deaths as the result of disease, hunger and the cold â€” not bullets or bayonets. Militiamen drafted into the war effort thought it a justifiable occasion to loot and plunder: few Americans remember that the British raid up the Chesapeake and the burning of Washington in 1814 were, at the time, considered to be retribution for the 1813 American ransacking of York, now Toronto. Desertions were commonplace on both sides. Despite the sensationalism of the American press, there are numerous reports of whites, not just natives, scalping their enemies.
The warâ€™s end was brought about less by the facts on the ground in North America â€” the U.S. was on the verge of financial collapse as a result of having to revitalize its military â€” than the British desire to focus its energy on combating Napoleon. On Christmas Eve, 1814, in Ghent (modern-day Belgium), British and American delegations settled for peace. â€œ[The British] wanted out of the war and offered the U.S. a pretty sweet deal,â€ says Taylor â€” swapping vast sections of territory seized in Michigan and the Great Lakes for the modest inroads the U.S. had made into Upper Canada.
When the news of peace eventually reached Washington, the Americans were â€œgiddy with relief,â€ says Taylor. The truce proved fatal, though, for the refusenik Federalists. Just months earlier, a bloc of vehemently anti-war Federalists had convened at a conference in Hartford, where the prospect of New Englandâ€™s secession from the Union hung over proceedings. They decided against it, but agreed on a set of tough, non-negotiable demands to take to the American capital. When they arrived, the war was over and the mood ebullient. â€œThey are treated with contempt and brushed aside,â€ says Taylor. The Federalists, never able to shed the stigma of their opposition to the war, suffered badly in the next round of elections and by 1820 were more or less dead as a political force.
But the war rang a far more tragic death knell for another set of people. At Ghent, the British didnâ€™t negotiate any special dispensation for the confederation of Native American tribes that fought on the British side. â€œThereâ€™s a real sense of betrayal. The [Native Americans of the Western frontier] saw the War of 1812 as the last chance to actually hang on to their territory,â€ says Zuehlke, the Canadian historian. â€œImagine how different the North American landscape would be had the British pushed for some kind of an independent nation for the [Native Americans].â€
Instead, the U.S.â€™s westward expansion took flight. â€œThereâ€™s a fallacy,â€ says Stagg of the University of Virginia, â€œthat some people assume because you have no decisive outcome, the war had no decisive consequences.â€ A new generation of American politicians and generals emerged following the war, trading on their service on the front. The 1813 Battle of the Thames, where a much larger American force defeated a cornered British and native contingent, and killed the charismatic Tecumseh, launched the political careers of one President (William Henry Harrison), a Vice President, four Senators, 20 Congressmen and three governors.
Rapidly in the years that followed, the Americans displaced and disappeared the indigenous tribes they once feared. The institution of slavery, which buoyed the then booming Cotton Belt, stretched across much of the lands whose security was guaranteed by the Treaty of Ghent. And as a result, the seeds of a new, far bloodier American conflict were sown.
War of 1812 Bicentennial: U.S. Invaded Canada, and Failed | World | TIME.com
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