In June of 1812 James Madison, proposed that congress should declare war with the largest navel powers in the world, Great Britain. This declaration was the result of several years of poor relations between the two nations. Madison presented a list of grievances against Great Britain and brought it before congress, after weeks of debates they voted for war on June 18th, 1812. The issues of British impressment of American sailors, the failure to respect the United States neutrality in their war with France, and the arming of Native Americans who attacked American colonists were the key deciding factors.
Both Britain and France were interfering with American trade. Britain was impressing American sailors into the British Navy to replace their numbers and manpower, if they had run out of sailors they would have lost the war with France. Citizenship at the time was a gray area, papers could be forged easily. British commanders would take any skilled seaman with a British accent and claim he was a deserter. “The Chesapeake-Leopard affair was the most important naval conformation between the United States and Great Britain before the war of 1812 and in itself a cause of the conflict. It was the culmination of a long history of mistrust between the United States and Britain.” 1 In 1807, four members of a British ship deserted and joined the United States Navy frigate Chesapeake. Three of the four men were American citizens who had been impressed by the British navy. The other seaman was in fact a British citizen who served on the Chesapeake under a false identity. The captain of the British ship Leopard, demanded to search the Chesapeake to retrieve the men. The commodore of the Chesapeake refused to allow the search,...
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...r of the group known as the war hawks. John C Calhoun who was from South Carolina was also an important member. Expansion was an important goal for the War Hawkes. The war hawks believed that the British impressment policy hurt the United States economy, humiliated Americans, and that the British were encouraging and supplying the Native Americans to attack American communities that were moving west. The War Hawks felt that gaining control of Canada would force the British to take the United States more seriously as an independent nation. Americans believed over-taking and expanding into Canada would be very easy and happen quickly. America did not expect Britain to defend Canada aggressively due to their focus on the Napoleonic war with the French. The U.S. also underestimated the Canadians national identity as British. They did not want to become part of America.
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