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Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017

War of 1812, America's Forgotten War

Posted Tuesday, November 9, 2010, at 10:05 PM

Some historians have called the War of 1812, the Second War of Independence. There is some credence to this as the combatants were the same and the country was at stake. When the War of 1812 is called the Second War for Independence it is with a little bit of short-sided wishful thinking.

The truth is, the War of 1812, was America's largest military blunder until the Vietnam War. The fact is the United States lost the war, militarily speaking. When looking at the war, from 1812-1815, the United States only had two successful years. 1812 was successful from the Navy side, while 1814 was successful from the Army side. 1813 and 1815 were militarily disastrous for the United States. This was in large part because the war hawks in Washington (Republicans) decided that invading Canada would not only be successful, but that the Canadians would be very happy to see us come in. The Federalist Party (which was very much on the way out the door as a political party) did not have enough members to stop that course of action.

The United States did win on one front and it was the most important front. The country won the battle of diplomacy to end the war. Interestingly enough, the Federalists had argued for diplomacy before the war ever started. It turned out that they were right. In Washington, however, where the party that is the loudest usually wins the PR war, the Republicans got out in front and declared that they had won. By 1820 the Federalists were no longer a party, by 1823 the United States had moved into the Second Americans Party System and the Republicans were also gone.

The War of 1812 had many important points. During the war, saw the only time in history that Washington D.C. was ever held by an invading army. It also saw quick thinking by Dolly Madison and the Postmaster General for D.C. to save many of the country's documents. It also saw the beginning of American dominance at sea and the beginning of the end of England's dominance at sea. It also saw a general rise to prominence and eventually win the presidency (Andrew Jackson) based solely off a huge military victory, after the war had ended (The Battle of New Orleans).

Next year marks the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812 and one thing that all historians and politicians can agree on is that there is no direct answer to the question "What was the importance of the War of 1812?"

Showing comments in chronological order
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I guess you meant (National Republican Party) when referring to the "war hawks." I know you weren't trying to tie a failed war effort to the Republican Party (GOP). You'd never do that Mike.

Just to clear the air...the National Republican Party no longer exists, and hasn't for over 150 years, as you stated. The current republican party is the party of Abraham Lincoln and the anti-slavery movement.

Just thought that needed to be cleared since you explained the Federalist Party enough, yet led people to believe that the GOP was responsible for yet another war, which they weren't.

-- Posted by Justin76 on Tue, Nov 9, 2010, at 11:58 PM

I just watched a documentary on PBS about Andrew Jackson, old hickory. I learned that the symbol of the Democratic party, the donkey, was given to him for being dependable. The farmers could always depend on there donkeys. And the symbol was simply passed on to the democrats.

-- Posted by Keda46 on Wed, Nov 10, 2010, at 12:22 AM

Actually Justin just to be clear at the time the National Republican Party also did not exist. The political party I was referring to was one of the first political parties in this country's history, the Democratic-Republican Party. It's members called themselves Republicans.

I do apologize for not making it clear enough. I, apparently wrongly, decided that since I had stated the Republican Party above was out of existence by 1823 that there would be no confusion between the Republican Party of the 1812 era and the Republican Party of today.

It was not my intent to tie the War of 1812 to a party that would not exit for almost 50 years. History deals with facts not assumptions.

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Wed, Nov 10, 2010, at 5:57 AM

Actually there is no clear history on the donkey for the Democratic Party and the elephant for the Republican Party.

They are mostly attached to Thomas Nast and a cartoon he drew in the 1870s, but why he settled on the donkey and the elephant is not entirely clear.

The donkey, though, can in some part, be attributed to Andrew Jackson as people did call him a (pardon the language) jackass for his populist views. He readily took on that label and even started using the donkey in his campaigns.

For what it's worth, even though many Democrats have adopted and used the donkey as the symbol of the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party has never adopted the donkey as a symbol.


I personally do not get either symbol to be perfectly honest.

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Wed, Nov 10, 2010, at 6:06 AM

We did get the Star Spangled Banner from this War.

-- Posted by wallismarsh on Wed, Nov 10, 2010, at 9:49 AM

That is true I apologize for the omission.

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Wed, Nov 10, 2010, at 10:14 AM

I guess if you were really looking for something good to come from that war, you could also look at Tchaikovsky's Overture of 1812.

Even though it had nothing to do with OUR war, it was written to commemorate Russia's defeat of Nepoleon.

Now it's played here very patriotically especially during Independence Day celebrations, and since it shares a date with the War of 1812, most people probably think that it's an ode to the War of 1812.

Anyway, that's a stretch.

-- Posted by Justin76 on Thu, Nov 11, 2010, at 2:59 PM

The War of 1812 added fuel to the fire of Federalists who were arguing for secession. Had it not been resolved who knows how much further they would have went with that plan. The war was also a long time in the making because of repeated British attacks on American ships over the course of several years. This problem didn't start in 1812, it had reached its boiling point really. Taking control of Canada would serve the purpose of eliminating British commerce to an entire North American continent rich in resources, which would have been an excellent diplomatic tool to use once it was in our possession but something tells me it was not that well thought out.

-- Posted by McCook1 on Thu, Nov 11, 2010, at 3:40 PM

Mccook, you are right. The plan for the invasion of Canada was not only horribly plan it was horribly executed, when it was even executed. In the early days of the invasion into Canada we had actually taken a fort in Canada and had the British on the run. The other general who was then supposed to come in and reinforce the fort turned around and marched back into the United States.

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Thu, Nov 11, 2010, at 8:36 PM

I always enjoyed the movie Canadian Bacon.

-- Posted by Damu on Thu, Nov 11, 2010, at 11:45 PM

Like Bo says, "You've got to execute."

-- Posted by McCook1 on Fri, Nov 12, 2010, at 12:20 PM

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