World War Two

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World War Two

On June 18, 1812, President Madison of the United States and Congress declared war on Great Britain. On June 25, the French emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte led his army in Europe across the Nieman River into Russia.(1) Although these two events were thousands of kilometers apart they were directly connected to each other. To some extent, the Americans declared war in protest against measures that were part of Britain's effort to defeat Napoleon with the use of blockades. There are many interesting aspects to the War of 1812, including the fact of why it even happened. Britain and the United States had more reasons to remain friends than to start a war. The intent of this essay is to examine American and British objectives during this war, and despite the Treaty of Ghent, conclude Canadians won the War of 1812.

Britain, in their eagerness to starve out France, set up a series of blockades along the European coast.(2) These blockades sought to exclude neutral ships from trading with France and her Allies. The very powerful British Royal Navy would search American vessels, most times within sight of land. British deserters provided England with the excuse it needed to search American ships at sea. Desertions were commonplace in the Royal Navy, harsh treatment and punishments were a way of life to British seamen. In comparison, crews on American merchant vessels enjoyed much better treatment, lots of food, good pay and above all, limited punishment. Royal Navy boarding parties arbitrarily selected deserters who, for their crimes were whipped, strung up by the yardarm or keelhauled.(3) As a bonus, the British impressed, kidnapped would be a better word, the most fit and healthy among the American crews into the Royal Navy, and in most cases seized the cargo. Facing well armed British warships, American merchant ships were powerless to resist and were sometimes captured outright. This treatment of American people and vessels at sea would not go unnoticed by the newly formed colonies of the United States. In his speech to congress June 1,1812 President Madison anger at the British Royal Navy and their tactics on the open seas, was very apparent

"Thousands of American citizens under the safeguard of public law and the national flag have been torn from their country and everything dear to them... Against this crying enormity, which Great Brit...

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...ton, Flames Across The Border, p.224-5

43. Ibid., p.225

44. Ibid., p.226

45. Ibid., p.227

46. Stanley, 1812 Land Operations, p.260

47. Ibid., p.261

48. Ibid., p.268

49. Berton, Flames Across The Border, p.40

50. Ronald Way, "The Day of Chrysler's Farm,"

Canadian Geographic Journal (June,1961) p.216

51. Berton, Flames Across The Border, p.283

52. Stanley, 1812 Land Operations, p.340

53. Ibid., p.377

54. Ibid., p.338

55. Ibid., p.381

56. Ibid., p.393

57. Glen Frankfurter, Baneful Domination (Ontario, 1971) p.113-4

58. Morton, Military History. p.70

59. Berton, Flames Across The Border. p.405

60. Richard Gwyn, The 49th Paradox Canada in North America (Toronto, 1985) p.22

61. Frankfurter, Baneful Domination. p.113-4

62. Berton, Flames Across The Border. p.22-3

63 C.P. Stacey, "The War of 1812 In Canadian History."

Ontario History (Summer 1958) p.154-5

64. Arthur Campbell Turner, The Unique Partnership Britain and The United States

(New York, 1971) p.33

65. Robert Craig Brown and S.F. Wise, Canada Views The United States

(Washington, 1967) p.42

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