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War of 1812

In the early 1800s, the young United States of America was politically independent from Britain, but severely hampered economically by England's insistence on unfavorable trade restrictions with its former colonies. In addition, British troops  continued to occupy disputed territory along the Great Lakes and were suspected of backing Indian raids against American settlers on the frontier. Most dramatically, the Royal Navy periodically captured and impressed American sailors into service on the high seas.


The War of 1812 was an armed conflict between the United States and Great Britain that officially began on June 18, 1812, and ended on February 16, 1815, with the American ratification of the Treaty of Ghent. The vote to go to war, 79-49 in the House and 19-13 in the Senate, was the closest vote on any formal declaration of war in American history. Because the United States sought to win the war by conquering Canada, the principal theater of war was located on the Canadian-American border, but the Chesapeake Bay, the Gulf Coast, and the high seas were also important theaters.