Although the Treaty of Ghent established that neither side could claim victory, I believe the War of 1812 can be considered as America’s “Second War of Independence.” Just as Americans had no other choice left but to declare war to have the grievances by Britain stopped in the American Revolution, so also was the case in the War of 1812. Americans were forced into the most direct form of slavery under Britain’s impressment and ‘enslavement’ of Americans to serve in their British Navy. This was much like the excessive taxes imposed on Americans that caused many Americans in the then colonies to view themselves as slaves to the British Empire under absolute “Despotism,” as stated in the Declaration of Independence.
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American were forced to fight in a war that was not their own, as if they were still only subjects of the British Empire.
America entered the War of 1812 “because Great Britain had violated U.S. sovereignty in ways that suggested that the new nation was still a colonial entity, subject to imperial whim” (Varsity Tutors, 2019). The most apparent incident specifically revealing this was the Chesapeake-Leopard Affair. The British expected American ships to comply as if they were still colonies subject to the British Empire and its regulations, of which (Britannica, 2019). The end of the war and Andrew Jackson’s victory at New Orleans gave America a “sense of complete independence” (Lecture 7, pg. 46).
At the start of the War of 1812, Britain’s view of America was only of an impotent, disobedient child, essentially the same as in the era of the American Revolution. Many British had continued to think of America as “an enemy unworthy of serious regard”. British Admiral Cockburn expressed the identical perspective as he stated in the War of 1812 that America should be treated as a naughty spaniol: “If it snaps at you, you hit it on the nose”. After Britain’s victory against one of the greatest military minds in the Napoleonic Wars, Britain greatly supported the idea that they could reclaim America, evident in the treaty the British proposed at point in the War of 1812 they thought they were greatly winning. The fact that all the American military experts from the Revolution War had by then died off or were long-retired further encouraged Britain’s attempt for reconquest. It left a generation of inexperienced Americans to guard the nation and a military that had not the time enough to mature.
The American “victory” of the War of 1812 forever changed the view by which Britain regarded the United States. This war finally brought about the reality of the American Revolution: The United States was an independent and sovereign nation. It solidified America’s independence from Britain, as Britain finally began to regard it and respect it as so. Britain would never again to try to reclaim America.
The war helped America redefine its identity as America did after their revolution. The war inspired Francis Scott Key’s creation of star-spangled banner which would become the new nation’s national anthem in 1931 (Lecture 7, pg. 35). The name of America’s capitol building, the White house, was first used, as the name was). The victory at New Orleans immensely displayed that America could defeat any foreign power that would try and invade America, even the might of the greatest military power on Earth at that time.
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