Friday, June 1, 2012

War of 1812: Madison's War Message

It was 200 years-ago today that James Madison appeared in front of a joint session of Congress and announced his desire and immediate need for the United States to declare war on Great Britain. The problems with Great Britain had actually been going back as far as the end of the American Revolution.

There is a huge misconception out there about the end of the American Revolution. Many just believe that the Battle of Yorktown was the decisive battle that ended the conflict and although it was a big blow to Britain's chances for victory we are talking about the largest military force in the world at the time. Support in Great Britain had never been strong and waned even more after that loss. It took two years for a peace treaty to actually be signed and even through that process Great Britain showed little respect to the American diplomats and this newly formed country. This disrespect never stopped. Britain would invade our territory in the west, stir up Indian aggression, and the biggest atrocity was the impressment of our men into the British military in order to fight against the French.

Madison was finally been fed up. Problems with Great Britain had increased exponentially since 1803 when war with France broke out. Britain was desperate for an advantage and one can see by their treatment of us they still considered the United States a colony to be used for resources. Madison realized that peace could no longer be attained that war was the only answer. Great Britain had to recognize our sovereign status once and for all. On June 17, 1812, in a 19-13 vote in the Senate, war was passed and the next day Madison signed it, officially putting the United States and Great Britain back into an armed conflict.

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