Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What Did the War of 1812 Prove?

What Did the War of 1812 Prove?: Not much, is the short answer to this question. After American armed forces battled the British (and British-Canadians - Sir Isaac Brock) for 32 months between 1812 and 1814, status quo ante bellum was the official outcome. And aside from Washington, D.C. burning to the ground and Tecumseh's Confederacy being defeated, there were no major physical/boundary changes that stemmed from the conflict. In fact, the British have mostly written off the war as a kind of annoying sideshow to the larger Napoleonic Wars happening in Europe at the time. For Americans, however, the war had enormous socioeconomic and cultural ramifications. Because much of the war was fought at sea, the British Navy had a 50-to-1 numerical (sailor) advantage over the tiny American Navy, which only formed in the late 1790s. With this vast advantage, the British were able to capture American ships, impress American sailors, and establish crippling blockades around American ports. Ultimately, it was these blockades which destroyed America's ability to conduct not only naval warfare, but also international trade. Even after the war ended, the British continued to make international trade a hassle for American merchants. Thus, by the 1820s, the U.S. had begun to double-down on two emerging industries of the early nineteenth century: homegrown slave labor (as opposed to imported) and cotton textiles (water-powered mills).

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