• Bombs bursting in air over Baltimore in 1813

    War of 1812

A Republic in an Age of Empires

The War of 1812 was part of a broad conflict between Great Britain and France that embroiled many nations, both European and Native, over the course of a century. From the American perspective, the conflict was the final act of the American Revolution. American aspirations to sustain the new republic on a continental scale ultimately brought them into conflict with their former colonizer, and also with the Native nations whose lives, lands, and liberties were threatened in the North American contest between the British Empire and the United States. How would the radical gamble of an American republic premised on the sovereignty of the collective people resist and exploit the challenges of Europe's far-flung empires, and negotiate competing claims for liberty and sovereignty among its neighbors in the "New World?"

Showing results 1-5 of 11

  • "A Mere Matter of Marching:" Stalemate at the Canadian Border

    Columbia teaching Napoleon and John Bull a lesson

    After the failure of economic coercion to divert war, the Americans faced a difficult reality. Knowing they had little chance to best the superior British military on either land or sea, instead they turned to Canada -- a perceived weak point in the British armor. Thomas Jefferson expected the conquest of Canada to be "a mere matter of marching," but Canada did not prove to be so easy to take. Read more

  • "Released from the Millstone of an American War:" The News of Peace

    Painting of Britannia and Columbia holding hands and celebrating peace

    The conclusion of the War of 1812 was eagerly anticipated. Expensive and unpopular among both British and American citizens, the news of peace was greeted enthusiastically by everyone affected by the war. Read more

  • 1812: A Sideshow in the "Second Hundred Years' War?"

    Picture of American sailors taken aboard a British ship

    Americans remember the War of 1812 as a second war of independence, as a war to force the British to give up practices that violated American rights and undermined US sovereignty. But this war was a byproduct of a much larger conflict in Europe. Read more

  • Breaking Rugged Boundaries: American Expansion onto Indian Lands

    Speech from Shawnee Chief Tecumseh to governor William Henry Harrison

    From the earliest settlement of the United States, American settlers have conflicted with American Indian neighbors over border and land disputes. Boundary lines established with the American Indians by the British leading into the American Revolution began chafing the American state after independence. This resulted in hostilities and eventually war as the United States dedicated itself to pressing westward at any cost. Read more

  • Confederation in a New World Order: Tenskwatawa's Vision for Indian Destinies

    Portrait of Shawnee religious leader Tenskwatawa

    Following increasingly restrictive and exploitative land cessation treaties between the United States and Indian nations, tribal people were faced with difficult choices. Would Natives follow the restrictions of the Americans or fight them? Would they remain an independent people, or assimilate into white society? Would they remain on ancestral lands at the risk of enraging land-hungry Americans, or leave home in the interest of keeping peace? Read more