As a young nation, the United States and its people were still figuring out their role in a broader context. What did it mean to be an American? What did it mean to be a citizen? What role would people of color play in this democracy? What about women? The War of 1812 was an opportunity for Americans to figure out what "American" really meant, and test by fire the concept of democracy. The Americans who contributed to the War of 1812 represented every aspect of a diverse American society: men, women, people of all races and backgrounds. This conflict allowed the citizens of the diverse American state to unite, to better understand themselves, and to better understand each other.
The decision to to go war in 1812 was hardly a unanimous one among Americans. many were uninterested in starting a war with Great Britain, still healing and rebuilding from the last one. But when the conflict became inevitable, the people of this newly formed nation were forced -- willingly or not -- to come together in defense of their common homeland.
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