War of 1812

From Ohio History Central
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Portrait of President James Madison (1751-1836), who during his presidency signed the declaration of war that officially started the War of 1812. Madison also became a supporter of industrialization, a traditional Federalist policy.

The War of 1812 was fought between the United States and Great Britain from 1812 until 1815.

The war had several causes. During the late 1700s and the early 1800s, Great Britain was at war with France. Britain began to face a shortage of skilled sailors. To acquire more men for its navy, Great Britain began to stop American and other ships and impress (take by force) sailors from them. Britain also tried to prevent United States farmers from trading with the French. Finally, British soldiers continued to occupy territory belonging to the United States, despite Great Britain's promise to remove these soldiers in the Treaty of Paris (1783) at the end of the American Revolution. Most of the soldiers were located along the Great Lakes, providing Native Americans, like the Shawnee leader Tecumseh, with support in their struggle against American settlers. In 1812, President James Madison asked the United States Congress to declare war.

The first major battles of the war occurred in 1813. The United States had hoped to invade Canada in 1812, but British soldiers successfully rebuffed the assault. However, America did have some important victories the following year. The success of Oliver Hazard Perry at the Battle of Lake Erie, gave the United States control of that Great Lake. In the Battle of the Thames, General William Henry Harrison defeated a combined British and Native American force led by Colonel Henry Procter and Tecumseh. Tecumseh died in the battle. In 1814, despite a great naval victory at the Battle of Lake Champlain, the war turned against the Americans. A British army captured and held Washington, D.C. for a brief period. Before the British evacuated the city, they set fire to several of the buildings, including the White House. By late 1814, both the Americans and the British were ready to conclude the war. The two sides signed the Treaty of Ghent on December 24, 1814. Before news of the peace treaty reached America, one final battle, the Battle of New Orleans, which resulted in an American victory, occurred in January 1815.

Most Ohioans actively supported the American war effort. Some of the British soldiers who remained on United States soil following the American Revolution were located along Lake Erie in western Ohio. These British soldiers also were trading guns with the Native Americans, helping the natives to resist the advance westward of white Americans. The United States' victory in the War of 1812 ended British support to the Native Americans and virtually ended the native threat to white Ohioans, allowing these Americans to fully settle Ohio without further opposition.

See Also


  1. Hurt, R. Douglas. The Ohio Frontier: Crucible of the Old Northwest, 1720-1830. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1996.