Cause of the War of 1812

Most historians would agree that the cause of the War of 1812 was due to the tensions that were raised from the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. The War of 1812 is sometimes referenced to as the second war for independence, since Great Britain never ceased to quit interfering with the United States affairs. The constant conflict between France and Britain trying to block trade from each country to the United States injured the State’s’ interest. Great Britain continued to disregard the United States shipping rights by denying access to ships from reaching France before going through them first, trying to limit commerce between Napoleonic Europe. Great Britain also believed that they had the right to search any ship anywhere in the ocean, consequently they mistook many Americans as “deserters” and captured them. Great Britain also begun allying themselves with the Native Americans and provided them with warfare equipment so that they were able to defend themselves from the Americans. By June 1st, 1812 Congress finally declared war on Great Britain as they had had enough of Britain’s interference.

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Although some historians say that the British impressments were the very main cause of the declaration of war, some historians have said that the declaration of war was caused by the War Hawks. The War Hawks were a group of Republican congressmen who wanted to go to war with Great Britain. Historians have put blame on the War Hawks for the War of 1812 since they kept pushing for war even though the United States’ military was not adequately equipped to fight and win a war. These “War Hawks” wanted to go to war with great britain because they wanted to change the way of direction that the country was headed towards. Before the declaration of war, the war did not undeceive them and believed themselves to be the most gifted with political sagacity (Adams Chapter 10).

It is also known that some historians believe that the primary cause of the declaration of the war was the demand for the annexations of Canada, Florida, with some interest in Mexico (Pratt). Julius Pratt does not believe that this war was caused by the outrage over British impressment and was instead hunger for expansion. It had been a little over 25 years since the United States gained its independence from Great Britain and they wanted to begin expanding outside of their original 13 colonies. Expansion would allow for the United States to have access to more ports for trade as well as easier access to more materials.

It therefore seems that the expansionist mindset of both Great Britain and the United States was indeed responsible for the United States to declare war on Great Britain in 1812. This small war that lasted for about three years led to larger results that would last much longer. Including the term “Manifest Destiny” which was tokened in 1846 and declared that the United States would continue to expand in both directions, towards the Pacific and Atlantic. If this small War between two nations never occurred, it would not have been possible for the United States to be able to expand this far. The feeling of nationalism rose throughout the country due to the victory gained in the war. With a stronger economy and hardly any foreign reliance, the United States was able to expand confidently to their borders and eventually the entire continent.


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Cause of the War of 1812. (2020, Jul 23). Retrieved February 6, 2023 , from

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