The War Of 1812 And Its Effects On American Nationalism

By any criteria the years following the War of 1812, otherwise known as the “Era of Good Feelings,” must be considered a time of exceptional growth and development in the United States, but above all, it may be considered a time of evolution and ripening of American nationalism, unification, and economic prowess. The war of 1812 was a very problematic war. States did not fulfill their duties, while commanders and leaders were not informed or supplied enough to keep up the war. But what awakened during this time and afterwards is something much greater then victory. The war wasn’t just about Britain holding land and impressing American sailors into their navy; it was a second war of independence. It was the first war as a united country, and it was a small new nation against a large European empire. That we survived woke us up, and let us know that we did have a nation. For the first time, we were united, not for a fight of our homes and freedoms, but for ideals (The Awakening of American Nationalism, AAN).

The war of 1812 began long before war was declared. It began right after the war of Independence. The British were not too fond of us breaking away from their empire, and they soon figured out that many revolts were because we had fought and won. They taxed our merchants, and hassled our ships, but they crossed the line when they began to impress our sailors into their navy. They claimed that these people had “deserted” the royal navy and should be given back. Though they may have been right on a few occasions, it has been proven that many innocent people were forced to be in the royal navy.

On June 22, 1807, the English frigate Leopard attacked the United States frigate Chesapeake, and took from her certain of her sailors who, the Leopard’s captain claimed, were British citizens. (John K. Mahon, The War of 1812) This is what broke the straw on the proverbial camel’s back. Many citizens wanted war, but Jefferson, seeing the problems in war with Britain, calmed the public. Congress began to prepare for war, by authorizing the construction of 20 ships of war.

France and Britain, Europe’s two most powerful nations, had battled almost continuously since 1793, and their warfare directly affected American trade. Hostilities began during the French Revolution (1789-1799...

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... something special that could no longer be denied its goals. Its children had become proud of this infant nation, and that was the most important step in keeping together. If no one believed in a nation, how could it survive? Many questioned weather or not this pride would last, but undoubtedly it did. It evolved into a nation-wide sense of pride. It grew and with it the nation grew and prospered under great leadership and the democratic way. The great democratic experiment had worked, the nation was at peace and was growing, and the tide for the next century had already been set in motion.

John K. Mahon. The War of 1812; Da Capo Press, New York. Copywrite 1972.

George Dangerfield. The Awakening of American Nationalism; Harper and Row, New York, Copywrite 1965

Nagel, Paul C. This Sacred Trust: American Nationality, 1798-1898. New

York: Oxford University Press, 1971.

Waldstreicher, David. In the Midst of Perpetual Fetes: The Making of

American Nationalism, 1776-1820. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina

Press, 1997.

Commager, Henry Steele. Jefferson, Nationalism, and the Enlightenment. New

York: G. Braziller, 1975

Encyclopedia Encarta 2000, PC.

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