During the War of 1812, the United States army was unprepared for battle. Due to restrictions on American trade, impressment on their seamen, and the colonies’ desires for territorial expansion, war between the United States and England seemed inevitable. Canada was an important battleground during the war, for it was the British’s weak point.
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However, the United States launched a poor offensive when the Canadian and British defense were strong. Americans were better at combat, and the British had a strong navy. Seeking to bring supplies to the rest of their navy, the British sent supplies through Lake Champlain, where commander Thomas Macdonough challenged the fleet. Though weaker, they put up a fight and managed to make the British retreat. The Battle of New Orleans was another victory for the United States, restoring hope and nationalism. Wanting to end the conflict between the two countries, the tsar of Russia attempted to mediate. Eventually, the Treaty of Ghent was created. There were no mentions of the grievances of which America ostensibly fought for in the treaty, which showed the insincerity of the war hawks. Many Canadians felt betrayed, with not even an Indian buffer state. The Indians were forced to make treaties where they could. Once the War of 1812 was over and Napoleon’s final defeat occurred, Europe went into a period of peace while the United States looked to expand further west. Authors like Washington Irving wrote books that gained international recognition, which helped to boost the strong sense of nationalism that Americans felt after the war. There were other sources for national pride such as paintings and magazines such as the North American Review on the United States being made by Americans. There was even pride emerging from places such as the economic factors and James Monroe’s goodwill tour. The nationalism expressed by Americans appeared throughout their policies and ideologies as they dealt with events in regards to their expansion.
President James Monroe gave warning to the European powers during his speech to Congress, speaking of noncolonization and nonintervention. His Monroe Doctrine was a foreign policy that did not allow Europe to interfere with affairs in the Western Hemisphere implying that the United States will be able to expand west. Dedicated primarily to Russia, he stressed no colonization in the Americas and no intervention in Latin American affairs from European nations. In return, the United States would not interfere in the Greek democratic revolt against Turkey. The doctrine was mostly an expression of nationalism and patriotism, which added to isolationism. For sharing fishing lands with Canada, entering a joint occupation of Oregon with Britain and defining the northern limits of Louisiana, the Monroe administration was able to negotiate the Anglo-American Convention with Britain. Manifest Destiny was another concept which affected the policies used by the United States. It drove the desire for western expansion, giving people the belief that it was their destiny for the nation to go from “sea to sea.” Americans wanted the annexation of Texas, the purchase of California and the reoccupation of Oregon. Texas would provide cotton production and land, but making it a state would mean war with Mexico and the intervention of European countries, especially Britain. There was also the debate over slavery. However, with James K. Polk and his expansionist ideas, the Mexican American War was fought in order to obtain more territory. Texas eventually became the 28th state to enter the union.
One of the reasons for expansion of the west was due to the cheap land. The Land Act of 1820 granted a buyer the ability to purchase 80 acres of land at a minimum of $1.25 per acre. Tobacco farmers had exhausted their land and needed a new place to farm. Due to the cheap amounts of land in the west, Europeans bought a lot of land. The purchasing of land by the Europeans is known as the Ohio Fever, which provided another reason for American expansion. To accommodate for the spread towards the west, the natives had to move further west. On the pretext that the Seminoles and fugitive slaves were using Spanish Florida as a place for refuge, General Andrew Jackson received permission to enter the territory. He then hanged two Indian chiefs and executed two British chiefs and demanded huge concessions from Spain. In the Florida Purchase Treaty, or Adam Onis Treaty, Spain gave up Florida and claims in Oregon for the United States to give up on Texas. Western, aggressive politicians known as War Hawks cried out against Indian threat. They claimed that the only way to get rid of them was to wipe out their base in Canada. The native Americans had watched as more whites settled in Kentucky, a sacred area in which settlement and hunting was not allowed unless necessary. In 1830, Congress passed the Indian Removal Act proposed by Andrew Jackson. He wanted them to be transferred to the west of the Mississippi River, where they could preserve their culture. Many had died on the journey west, which was known as the Trail of Tears.
The United States experienced a surge nationalism that led to the expansion of territory. With the Monroe Doctrine, interference in the Western Hemisphere by the Europeans is not permitted, which would allow Americans to move further west. The idea that it was their duty to extend the land of the United States was supported through Manifest Destiny. However, as people began moving west, the native Americans had to live west of the Mississippi and eventually onto reservations.
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