The War of 1812 — A War of Necessity or Choice?
The contours of choice and necessity in the forgotten conflict
The War of 1812 carried a great storm of devastation across North America. The terrifying sound of cannon fire filled the air, towns crumbled, and the countryside set aflame in this destruction.
The war didn’t merely touch the landscape but tore it apart. It destroyed homes, leveled farms, and reduced cities to rubble. The capital city — Washington D.C. — felt the full force of this storm. British troops set both the White House and the Capitol building aflame. The damage wasn’t only to buildings; thousands of lives were lost on both sides.
Amidst ruins and losses, one question looms: was this war a forced hand for the United States or a strategic move to assert its might on the world stage?
Strangled by the Trade Sanctions
In its struggle against France, the British Empire made fortresses out of European ports. This blockade aimed at damaging Napoleon’s resources, but the ripples of this strategy spread far.
The innocent American merchant ships got trapped in this net of trade restrictions. Suddenly, they couldn’t access the European markets, causing a jolt to American trade. American merchants watched their profits go down as their ships sat idle or, worse — found themselves seized by British forces. The hardship wasn’t limited to the merchants but spread across the nation.
The American economy hinged heavily on trade with Europe, and with their usual channels blocked, the economy began to sag. Farmers, traders, and workers — every facet of the American economy felt the jolt.
The trade sanctions struck the young United States, impacting its economy and sovereignty. No longer under Britain’s rule, the nation demanded neutral trade. However, Britain’s blockade ignored these demands. Outrage flared, pushing many to seek war to defend their rights and interests.
A Blatant Assault on Liberty
The American citizens were deeply wounded daily by the impressment, a pressing issue for the US. The British navy resorted to seizing American sailors in the imperative need for soldiers…