The War of 1812 is a military conflict between the United States and Britain, its former colonial master. It resulted from a number of tensions starting with the practice of impressment and a restricted trade with both France and Britain. Other reasons that forced the US to start a war included British intrigues to incite the Indian raids on the frontiers and limit the American expansion westward. After the declaration of war was signed, the US immediately attacked Canada, the former British ally and colony.
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The US forces being unprepared to wage the war, suffered a humiliating defeat from Tecumseh and Brock along the Canadian border. However, during the course of the war, the US regained control over the Northwest Territory in the Battles of Lake Erie and the Battle of Thames and scored several victories over the Royal Navy (Benn 56). In 1814 after the defeat of Napoleon, Britain was able to focus on this war and moving troops to capture the capital. By that time, the countries already began the peace talks at Ghent that resulted in the treaty leaving the Canadian border unchanged and blocking the effort to create an Indian state in the Northwest (Benn 87). The War of 1812 had a particular significance for Native Americans ending their hopes to govern themselves. The treaty also marked the beginning of the “Era of Good Feelings” and the downfall of the Federalist Party (Benn 89).
In the US history, the term Manifest Destiny coined in 1845 refers to the philosophy of continuous territorial expansion across the entire continent. According to this philosophy, the US was destined by God to spread the democracy and capitalism. According to Harrison, the idea of Manifest destiny prompted territorial acquisition in Oregon County (10), Louisiana Purchase (6), the Mexican-American War (16), the annexation of Hawaii, and the Alaska Purchase (20). Manifest Destiny was shaping American politics throughout the 19th century driving westward expansion. However, it resulted in dislocation and mistreatment of Native populations who occupied these lands and raised a new controversy over the status of slavery in newly admitted states.
The Emancipation Proclamation
The Emancipation Proclamation was issued by Abraham Lincoln in 1863 when the nation was still in the midst of the Civil War. According to the National Archives, the proclamation held “that all persons held as slaves within the rebellious states are, and henceforward shall be free”. However, the document outlawed slavery only in the seceded states, leaving it untouched in the border ones. Even though the declaration did not end slavery in the country, it changed the character of the war by adding moral force to the cause and allowed acceptance of black men into the Army and Navy (Clark 4). However, the most important consequence of passing the Emancipation was that it paved the way for the 13th Amendment that finally abolished slavery.
The Cotton Revolution
The production of cotton was central to the American economy in the 19th century. A very valuable commodity, as it proved to be, cotton transformed the lives of Americans in the South. Several hundred million pounds of cotton made up about half of the United States export (Beckert 205). The Cotton Revolution drove territorial expansion to the Southwest, fueled the trade between Europe and the United States, brought huge profits to the farmers and suffering to the slaves. Due to the increased need in the workforce, the number of slaves in the South grew dramatically leading to extremely hard conditions and further devaluation of human life. The researchers tend to name the Cotton revolution among one of the major causes of the Civil War.
The Impact of an Early American Legacy on the Modern Society
History of each society and the legacy of its old times shape the reality of nowadays. This statement equally applies to the social, economic, cultural, and political institutions in the United States. The foundations on which the early American society was built such as freedom and democracy have determined the development of the nation and continue to drive it forward.
Since the early days of its existence, America declared itself a new home for people from all around the globe and the center for democracy. The citizens of the colonies and then of the United Stated always strived for self-governance and democratic society. This desire was the driving force for the independence from Britain and later fostered the states’ ambitions for more independence from the federal government. From the 18thcentury on, Americans shape the nation’s politics according to the principles laid out in the Constitution such as the structure of Congress, the system of checks and balances, or the election system. Some of the old concepts acquired new meaning and implementation. The idea of Manifest destiny has transformed from the territorial expansion to the expansion of democracy across the globe promoted by the United States in the 21st century.
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The vision of America as the land of limitless opportunities brought millions of immigrants and shaped the contemporary diverse society. Anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit could build a fortune and realize their potential. This made America the greatest capitalistic country in the world and an attractive place for entrepreneurs from anywhere in the world to start a business. The co-existence of so many different cultures nurtured tolerance, open-mindedness, inclusiveness, and mobility of the society. However, this “melting pot” also produced a series of racial and cultural problems with which the modern society still deals now.
Beckert, Sven. Empire of Cotton: A Global History. Vintage Books, 2015.
Benn, Carl. The War of 1812. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014.
Clark, Willow. The True Story of the Emancipation. The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc, 2015.
Harrison, Lorraine. Manifest Destiny: The Dream of a New Nation. PowerKids Press, 2017.
“The Emancipation Proclamation.” National Archives and Records Administration, National Archives and Records Administration, Web.