• Bombs bursting in air over Baltimore in 1813

    War of 1812

Becoming American

The American Revolution created a republic from thirteen colonies that rejected British rule, but in 1812 many veterans of that earlier era understood that the prolonged drama of American independence was as much in the hearts and minds of citizens of the new republic as with its former imperial adversary. In the thirty years following the 1783 peace treaty that ended a war for independence from Great Britain, the post-revolutionary generation strived to build a nation within this precarious and embattled republic. The War of 1812, which many pro-war advocates called a "second war of independence," played out competing visions of America in a contest that would come to shape the ideological, political, and demographic landscape of the United States and North America.

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  • "Civilizing" Native Peoples: American Policies to Remake Tribal Worlds

    American Policies to Remake Tribal Worlds

    After the American Revolution, the Washington administration embraced a program to ,civilizeŠ native peoples, transforming Indians from tribal peoples into individuals who could be easily assimilated into American society. Read more

  • A Tale of Two Parties: Partisanship as "Seditious Opposition"

    Portraits of President James Madison and Treasury Secretary Albert Gallatin

    In the march to war, the Republican administration worried about political resistance in Federalist New England. Madison saw ,intrigueŠ and ,seditious oppositionŠ in those who ,clogged the wheels of war.Š He could not rely on Federalist-dominated states to provide able-bodied men for military service. Read more

  • Defining a National System: Madison, Party Politics and the Road to War

    Portrait of President James Madison

    It was known as Mr. Madison‰s War. Throughout his career James Madison was appreciated for his deliberative character, his leading role in state and national legislatures, and his reasoned opinions on such issues as commerce and constitutions. But no one looked to the guarded, if good-humored, fourth president for wartime leadership. Read more

  • Dolley Madison: Presidentess

    Portrait of Dolley Madison in white dress

    Although some dubbed the War of 1812 ,Mr. Madison‰s War,Š it was Mrs. Madison,Dolley Madison,who burnished her reputation with wartime grit. Even 200 years later, history books retell how Mrs. Madison saved George Washington‰s portrait. As British invaders approached, Dolley directed White House slaves to break the portrait‰s frame, remove the canvas, and rescue it from capture or incineration. Read more

  • Factions: War Hawks and Federalists

    American policymakers deciding to jump off a cliff back to King George III=

    The divisions between political parties in the early 19th century seemed almost insurmountable. Instabilities in politics threatened not only the effectiveness of the government, but its very stability. The War of 1812 was the first American civil war. New England threatened to secede from the union. Read more