The War of 1812 was Caused by Expansion in America

The country that the United States has developed into today is a result of a chain of occurrences that has taken place throughout history. The War of 1812 was caused by expansion in America, trade issues, British impressment, and the disorganized dynamic of America. However, the respect they gained from the war allowed them to easily advance in foreign relations and come to peace settlements with Great Britain through the Treaty of Ghent. Additionally, the Americans benefited from the War of 1812 because their sense of nationalism, which resulted from their second victory against the British, prompted the previously divided America to unite and function as one. The War of 1812 did, however, negatively affect Native Americans who were settled in the United States and completely altered their way of life due to prejudice and being forced out of their land. As a result of the War of 1812, United States foreign relations improved after defeating Great Britain twice, however, setbacks from the war occurred, which afflicted Native Americans because their land and culture were compromised.

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Foreign relations in the United States altered dramatically following the War of 1812. As a developing country with minimal experience preceding the war, they were not seen as a threat to competing countries, but America’s ability to defeat Britain in the Revolutionary War impressed these countries. As well, the outcome of the War of 1812 came as a shock since many surrounding countries did not have confidence in America’s capability. The lack of trust in American economics led to minimal foreign relations between the United States. America as a new country was an economic burden most countries did not want to undertake. However, the lack of foreign relations prior to the War of 1812 was not one-sided. George Washington suggested in his “Farewell Address” that “Americans should avoid entangling alliances with European governments” (Phelps) He discouraged the government to solidify relations with the offers for allies from other countries they did receive. Following the war, the United States’ foreign relations improved tremendously. America turned its unfavorable outcomes in war into victories, which allowed them to gain respect from competing countries and receive recognition as a potential ally. Their confidence grew due to the respect they received, giving them an advantage and setting them on a path to become a threat, but also a favorable ally. (Phelps).

After the War of 1812, Britain halted relations with the Native Americans against America and power in America became secured through the Treaty of Ghent.The treaty was an attempt at improvements in the United States. Despite the treaty reaffirming American independence from Britain, it left many unresolved issues. It was considered a “Treaty of Peace and Amity between His Britannic Majesty and the United States of America,”(“Treaty of Ghent”) since it was a peace agreement between America and Britain which ultimately ended the War of 1812. To arrive at this agreement, compromises and leniency were necessary. Originally, the British demanded the removal of America’s fishing rights in Newfoundland, free access to the Mississippi River, and the creation of a Native American state. At this time, the Native Americans and British allied against America, which led to the advocation for the Native American state.

The United States refused Britain’s demands and continued to negotiate. As a result of the compromise, America gained land outside of the Great Lakes region and Britain settled for less land. This original compromise did not last since Britain remained a threat to America. Eventually, a final compromise was reached. It consisted of the restoration of the prewar boundaries, Britain losing their demands of a Native American state and control over the Great Lakes. America agreed to terminate the threat of impressment and their fishing rights. However, the Native Americans were negatively affected the most from this compromise. Their original intentions for allying with Britain was in hope of a free state to live in peace. Although Britain originally advocated for this, they were not granted it in the final draft. A treaty was signed which reaffirmed that any land taken from the Natives would be returned, but this treaty was not enforced. The United States benefited the most from the Treaty of Ghent because after all they gained, their pride and honor were restored due to victory, leaving them feeling superior.

America’s nationalism increased foreign relations because many countries were impressed by America’s skills and development as a new country. The nations newfound independence and confidence opened many ally opportunities for them. Nationalism is defined as “an individual’s sense of identity with his or her nation or country of residence”(Gilje). Prior to the war, Americans were divided and not functioning as a whole, therefore lacking nationalism. Opinions on dire issues, such as slavery, were divided which split the country since people with opposing views struggled to work beside each other. By the time the war began, America had begun to develop their national identity and strengthened it by the war. However, after the war, they began functioning as a whole country rather than each separate state. The formerly divided nation unified in order to be successful during wartime. Nationalism is often enhanced during war due to bonding over a common enemy, which is Britain in this case. After the War of 1812, despite the advancements in nationalism, their morale was negatively affected by the Enlightenment period. Many Enlightenment ideas contradicted those of nationalism.

Nationalism brought people together on common ground, the Enlightenment inspired people to challenged that common ground. The Enlightenment embedded “a faith in universalism that militate against nationalism.”(Gilje). Despite this setback, America remained full of pride after the war, which also helped separate themselves further from Britain. The British lacked nationalism and the Americans wanted to dissociate themselves from them completely. Statements of nationalism were generated, such as the Star Spangled Banner, and used to exhibit one’s love for their country. It acted as a reminder for the citizens of the unity they possessed. The Star Spangled Banner was written by Francis Scott Key, who was an eyewitness to the horrors Britain brought upon America in the War of 1812. It was composed the morning after a long and devastating attack on Baltimore, Maryland. Key woke up to smoke fogging the air, but “through the smoke Key caught sight of the large garrison flag still flying.”(Kirk). This inspired him to write the poem expressing his gratitude for his country. It was later adapted into America’s national anthem in 1931(Kirk). The poem was published and became popular within the country quickly and ultimately became a key factor in nationalism during the wars to come since it united the country. This anthem was, and still is, a prime example of nationalism in America because it appeals to the emotions of the listener. It expresses the horrors of war and shows gratitude towards America, which inspires Americans to be patriotic.

The Star Spangled Banner refers to the American flag, which adds significance to the poem, and latersong. The symbolism of a flag in the nation’s anthem adds to the emergence of extreme nationalism in America as a result. The Star Spangled Banner had a long-lasting effect of nationalism throughout America. The anthem has lasted throughout various wars and downfalls of America, which shows that no matter what, the country will become stable again if hope is never lost. It made the new country at the time feel independent after their separation from Britain since they were able to defeat Britain, once again. Americans, after the War of 1812, destroyed many Native American civilizations due to their heightened nationalism. Prior to the War of 1812, the government had minimal influence over the settlements in America west of the Mississippi. Life before the war was simpler, although still not easy, for the Native Americans. They were recognized under a policy as independent settlements. Although they weren’t treated fairly, they were allowed to live in their land. After the war, this policy was changed and Native Americans were recognized as dependent on American guidance.

The balance of Native Americans and American settlers changed tremendously. It began with the removal of tribes east of the Mississippi River. As the United States population grew, the Native population decreased. Native Americans were seen as obstacles in the way of American expansion, and were pushed out of the land they inhabited in order to increase American settlement. The American settlers used force to push the Natives out of the land, which created an uproar. They already had to compromise with the Americans so they could keep some of their land and to conserve their culture, but after the war, they were pushed out completely. (Linge) Multitudes of Native tribes were negatively affected after the War of 1812. This led to tribes of Natives fighting back, such as the Shawnee tribe. Tecumseh, the leader of the Shawnee tribe was an advocate for the opposition of American expansion. He wanted to keep the Ohio River Valley within Native American control due to tribal importance and control over their land. Tecumseh had a “doctrine of resistance to land cession and illegal white settlement”(Linge).

After the Revolutionary War, Americans began to settle northwest of the Ohio River Valley, which upset the Native Americans, especially Tecumseh. He advocated for various treaties to be made between the United States and Natives. These treaties were not enforced and illegal trespassing upon Native lands became common. Tecumseh acted out in retaliation, which resulted in an American attack. Tecumseh and his troops were not able to withstand American forces and their village was burned, which led to Tecumseh allying with Britain against America. Eventually, Tecumseh was killed in the battle, which spiraled into the diminishing of Native territory by Americans. Tecumseh’s message impacted other Native American tribes, and many of them acted out as well. They attempted to save their land and culture despite the substantial differences between Native American and American troops. The Native Americans were outnumbered and had minimal access to weapons. Three wars between the Native Americans and Americans took place in hope to stop Native American removal. The Natives suffered great losses and did not manage to slow down their removal from the land. No matter the various attempts made to preserve Native American culture in the United States, the Americans defeated them each time. Their wish to occupy land from coast to coast in America resulted in having no mercy on already existing settlements.

As a result of the War of 1812, United States foreign relations improved after defeating Great Britain twice, however, setbacks from the war occurred, which afflicted Native Americans because their land and culture were compromised.

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The War of 1812 Was Caused by Expansion in America. (2020, Apr 23). Retrieved February 7, 2023 , from

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