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Sample essay topic, essay writing: The War Of 1812 And Its Effects On American Nationalism - 970 words
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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) when England joined other European nations in an unsuccessful attempt to restore the French monarchy, and then continued as Britain led the efforts to stop French expansion under Napoleon I. American presidents from Washington to Madison tried to keep the United States impartial during these conflicts, but both France and Britain flagrantly disregarded the rights of neutral countries (War of 1812). For the Americans, the greatest irritant was Britain's practice of impressment, or the seizure of American seamen for service in the British navy.
The British government claimed that it only seized subjects of the Crown who sailed under the American flag to avoid wartime service in their own navy. In fact, the British seized not only their own deserters, but also impressed a sizeable number of United States citizens-estimates suggest 6000 or more (Encyclopedia Encarta). Public outrage over the issue of impressments grew increasingly vocal after an incident between the American naval frigate Chesapeake and a British vessel, the Leopard. In June 1807 the Leopard approached the Chesapeake only a few miles off the American coast and demanded to search the ship for British deserters. The Chesapeake's commander, James Barron, refused, and the Leopard opened fire.
A number of American sailors were killed or wounded during the attack, and the Chesapeake surrendered. The British then sent a party aboard and dragged four crewmen from the vessel. After the incident, Jefferson ordered British warships to leave American waters and demanded an end to the practice of impressments. The British did make some apologies and restitution for the Chesapeake-Leopard incident, but continued to claim the right to seize American ships and inspect them for deserters. (War of 1812) Despite initial problems, the U.S. Navy soon won some victories at sea, offsetting the embarrassing defeats on land.
(Encyclopedia Encarta) A relatively strong American squadron under Commodore John Rodgers made a wide sweep through the Atlantic shortly after the declaration of war. It encountered only one enemy ship, which managed to escape, but later in the year three forays by individual U.S. warships proved far more successful. Almost overnight the War of 1812 became a glorious triumph. On February 20 President Madison sent a message to Congress transmitting the treaty of peace. He congratulated the nation on the close of a war 'waged with the success which is the natural result of the wisdom of the legislative councils, of the patriotism of the people, of the public spirit of the militia, and of the valor of the military and naval forces of the country.' More realistically, the fledgling nation had the extraordinary good fortune to escape the consequences of a war that it had badly mismanaged from the outset.
The Battle of New Orleans, fought after the two sides had already signed the peace treaty, ironically became the war's most famous event. The navy enjoyed well-deserved popularity for many years after the conflict, but the decisive results of the Battle of Lake Champlain did not receive full recognition for another generation. The principal gain for the United States was a renewed self-confidence and faith in the ability of its military to defend the nation's freedom and honor. (In the Midst of Perpetual Fetes: The Making of American Nationalism,) Although neither side came away from the war with a clear-cut victory, the American people saw the War of 1812 as evidence of the success of the democratic experiment. The war ushered in a period of American history that has frequently been called "the era of good feeling," a tim ...
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