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?"
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In many ways, the War of 1812 began as soon as the War of Independence ended. This new nation struggled to find a place in a broader geopolitical world, leading to domestic tension. Read more
The failure of the embargo left the Republicans with two stark alternatives: wage war or submit to British domination on the high seas. The Federalists favored tacit submission as more profitable and less dangerousgiven the shrunken and demoralized state of the American military cut to the bone by Jefferson. Read more
By the time the campaigning season in 1814 opened, the tide had turned against Napoleon in Europe, profoundly impacting the war in America. Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in June 1812 ended in disaster, and in October 1813 Britain’s allies on the Continent won a major victory at Leipzig. With the war on the Continent turning against Napoleon, the British in late 1813 began cautiously redeploying forces to America, and thereafter their prospects in both wars steadily improved. Read more