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The War of 1812

 

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The War of 1812 is sometimes called the Second War of Independence. It was the consequence of the Napoleonic Wars but also of tensions and conflicts left over from the Revolutionary Period. It was caused by the blockade established by the British around Europe, which  prevented the US, a neutral nation, to trade with the French. Another key issue was the British practice of stopping American ships on the high sea and impressing (recruiting by force) American sailors or even travelers under the pretext that they might be British deserters. Finally, there were also tensions in the Northwest territory, the region around the Great Lakes, which had been allocated to the US after the American Revolution, but which the British continued to control, and where they encouraged Indian rebellions.

 

When war broke out between the US and Britain, the weak point of the Empire was obviously Canada. 5,600 British troops were sent to the two Canadas, and 4,200 to Nova Scotia. In addition the local militia and Native troops were raised.

 

In the first year of the War, American strategy was to launch a three-pronged attack on central Canada on the Detroit River frontier, Niagara peninsula and Montréal (Lake Champlain). However, the relative unpreparedness of the American military for war and the strong resistance of both the population of Canada and First Nations meant that each campaign met with failure.

 

 

General Brock and the Upper Canada militia won the battle of Queenston Heights  on October 13, 1812, although Brock died there.

Tecumseh, a Shawnee leader who had been at the heart of Indian resistance south of the Great Lakes, was instrumental in convincing western Indians to fight alongside the Canadians. He was killed at the battle of Moraviatown on October 5th, 1813.

Under command of Charles-Michel de Salaberry, the Lower Canada militia and Mohawk braves defeated the Americans at the Chateauguay River on October 25, 1813.

 

The war raged on the Atlantic Coast, with the British Navy seizing and burning the White House in Washington DC, and on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, where the British Navy was defeated at the Battle of New Orleans in January 1815.

 

At the start of the War, the United States hoped to be able to gain large chunks of British North America through their campaigns, but by 1814, the Americans were content to end the War with honour and their sovereignty intact. The war ended with the ratification of the treaty of Ghent in February 1815.

 

The Canadians take great pride in their successful resistance to American invasions during the War of 1812 and consider that it saved their country from being annexed to the US. The recent commemoration of the War of 1812 also insisted on the union between the different peoples of Canada, French Canadians, English Canadians and First Nations.

 

To learn more about the War of 1812:

 

The War of 1812 Website

http://www.warof1812.ca

The War of 1812 at Library and Archives Canada

http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/Pages/war-1812-library-archives-canada.aspx