The War of 1812

The War of 1812
William G. Burmer

It is a temptation for me to elaborate upon the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812; however, I will avoid the urge and attempt to highlight their consequences instead. President Washington’s declaration of neutrality (specifically, Washington’s attitude towards relations of any kind with Europe were that of an Isolationist) with regards to involving itself with wars in Europe failed under President Jefferson and finally President Madison.

Our Congress and our nation’s first depression would, eventually, demand some actions against France and England for unprovoked aggressions. Between 1800 and 1815 European conflicts under France and its Monarch, Napoleon Bonaparte, spread across all of Europe. When England was threatened, they naturally defended themselves and became enemies of France.

Commercial intercourse between the United States, France and England were strained. Diplomatic resolutions failed. Neither England nor France believed that the U.S. should be doing business with their enemy. American ships were seized and sold by both countries; far greater abuses were had by Britain, where American sailors were coerced into British naval service for faced death when their vessels were captured at sea. These abuses coupled with the desire for war by certain members of the Congress forced America into conflict in 1812.

Wars, treaties, lawyers, Monarchs around the world, and bankers; those who could be bribed or paid off, all have had a hand at the destruction of our Republic. Was there a conspiracy to destroy Americas Republic? I am certain there was, as a historian I can see that all the events that have made “history,” especially wars, have been used for nefarious, and selfish ends by our politicians at home, as well as by foreign Monarchs in other countries. For those of us who grew up, witnessed, and participated in the events of the Vietnam era is an example of such tyranny sanctioned by our leaders in government. As Solders we wanted to win that conflict but the politicians drug the war on for 10 years, many became wealthy while 50,000 young men and women died in a protracted conflict a police action. Congress never declared war in East Asia!

When George Washington left office in 1796 he was weary, bound by events over which he had only limited control. Washington’s service to our country was, however, magnanimous in proportions. His example as a leader in war, as our first President, and as Chief Administrator over the federal government is incomparable in history. Above all, his integrity should be remembered. Few may leave this earth with their integrity intact President Washington would be one.

While the war was supposed to be confined within the borders of Canada, unexpected consequences brought the war into the very heart of American soil. In 1814 a large squadron of British ships entered Chesapeake Bay, landed their troops and marched through Maryland into Washington DC. The Capital was burned along with the White House before the British finally withdrew. Many important historical documents were consequentially destroyed. Coincidence?

In the end neither side could claim a victory. By December 1814 a treaty was finally signed in Ghent Belgium. This Treaty ended the war and restored the boundaries previously had between the U.S. and Canada. It had lasting effects on the United States, inspiring a spirit of nationalism among the people, and for a short time a return to isolation from Europe. By 1817 relations with Britain improved through diplomatic venues, and by other treaties, which disallowed war ships in the Great Lakes. Thus Canada, the U.S., and Britain were able to restore commerce and co-exist peacefully.

The United States increased its efforts to industrialize and move westward. These efforts shortly led to the adoption of the Monroe Doctrine in 1823, and a dim never the less, generally accepted respect for American sovereignty by all of Europe. The American Citizen should have learned from this experience that they ought to be about the business of seeing to it that they elect the best people possible to represent them; those who will preserve and protect their liberties, regardless of party affiliations, and or, political preferences. These notions may sound idealistic; however they of necessity need to be enforced if our Liberties are to be protected. We need to be especially alert during war, and during times of tragedy, when fear and emotions may cloud our reasoning. Politicians are most likely to work there tricks during these times, involving us in controversy with other nations, and invading our liberties with bogus legislation. George Washington once declared “The power under the Constitution will always be in the people. It is entrusted for certain defined purposes, and for a certain limited period, to representatives of their own choosing; and whenever it is executed contrary to their interest, or not agreeable to their wishes, their servants can and undoubtedly will, be recalled.” And at his inauguration “The Constitution of the United States, and the laws made under it, must mark the line of my official Conduct.”


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