What Was the Result of the War of 1812?
During the War of 1812, much of Washington, D.C., including the White House, was burned. This was where British soldiers invaded and captured the capital city of Washington, D.C. and they torched and burned to the ground (as much as they could) several public buildings, including the White House. This is the first and only time that the United States Capitol was taken and the only time it was destroyed.
After the American success in the Battle of Fort McHenry, Francis Scott Key was inspired to compose “The Star-Spangled Banner”, which became the national anthem of the United States. The War of 1812 did not actually accomplish its supposed goal of establishing neutral trading rights for American ships. Neutral trading rights with European powers was one of the big things that America wanted and it did not actually establish this with Britain as a result of the War of 1812.
Nevertheless, from James Madison’s perspective the war could only be seen as a major success. James Madison was president during this time and he viewed the war as a major success. The United States lost no major territory. We didn’t lose any major land during this war. That’s a success. The United States scored enough victories to keep the British from making any extreme demands.
The United States had won enough of the big battles to not have the British making any extreme demands. Whenever they were signing treaties and coming to terms with peace, the British weren’t able to say, “Oh, we won all these wars. Now you’re in a less variable- or all these battles, now you are in a less favorable position.” They had won about the same number of battles.
The United States had still made an honorable stand here, so the British weren’t in any kind of position to demand anything extreme whenever they were coming to their peace terms. Americans were thrilled that the United States was finally getting respect from the major European powers. Maybe there wasn’t one winner and one loser in this war, but the United States definitely didn’t lose to Britain.
The United States started getting more respect from major European powers. Nationalism exploded in the U.S. People had a lot more national spirit. People who had previously been feeling more support toward their state (their individual state) now felt more like a part of the United States, more part of the country and not just their individual state. Nationalism, that feeling of supporting the nation as a whole, exploded in the United States, which was important, because a lot of people had still had ties to their specific state or region.
People forgot about the debacle of the failed national bank. The national bank had failed right around the time of the War of 1812, but with these other positive things coming about as a result of the war the Americans forgot about the failed national bank. Then, the economy boomed. Everyone was pretty happy in the United States at this point. They hadn’t lost any major territory.
They hadn’t had to meet any extreme demands from the British because they had won a good number of victories against Britain that gained them respect from the major European powers. Nationalism exploded in the United States. The economy was doing well and everyone had pretty much forgotten about the national bank failure. The success of the War of 1812 effectively drove the final nail in the coffin of the Federalist Party.
The Federalist Party had been continually weakened around this time. The Federalist Party blamed James Madison for the War of 1812 and James Madison loved being blamed for it. He said, “Okay, I’ll take all the credit for it,” because he thought it was a major success. A lot of the other United States citizens felt the same way. Since the Federalist Party had been continually against the war and so many people were seeing benefits from the war, that kind of drove the final nail in the coffin of the Federalist Party.
The War of 1812 required several agreements to fully restore relations between the United States and Britain. There wasn’t just one peace treaty here. There were lots of different agreements, three in particular that were going to kind of finalize different aspects of relations between the United States and Britain. First, the Treaty of Ghent returned Anglo-American relations and boundaries to their pre-war terms and it proposed that commissions be formed to settle future differences.
Instead of going to war in the future, commissions were supposed to be set up to discuss possible peaceful ways to resolve issues. This returned the British and American boundaries and relations to their pre-war terms. No one really lost any land or gained a new land there. Boundaries were going back to where they had started. The Rush-Bagot treaty of 1817 formally declared that there would be no naval race between the two countries.
Up near Canada, there was a lot of water separating America and Canada: The Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River. Both of those areas started to get- or, with the Rush-Bagot treaty got several limitations. Each country was only allowed to have so many ships on each area of water, so that there wasn’t any kind of naval race for that area from one country to control the waterway over another country or to claim land on the other side of the waterway from their country.
They did agree that there would be no naval race there and that these waterways would be used by both countries, and that there were limitations on how many naval ships, naval vessels, could be on the water at a time. Then, at the convention of 1818, a line was drawn along the 49th parallel, dividing Canada from the Louisiana Territory. It was also declared that the two countries would jointly occupy the Oregon territory.
The Louisiana Territory was what constituted the Louisiana Purchase. It did go all the way up to Canada. At the 49th parallel, the United States had a little bit of land here, Britain had a little bit of land here, and the United States said, “Okay, Britain can have this land north of the 49th parallel,” and Britain said, “The United States could have this land south of the 49th parallel.”
With the convention of 1818, a little bit of land was kind of swapped, but there wasn’t any major loss or gain of territory there. They just agreed that this 49th parallel would divide the United States and Canada and Canada/Britain could have that little strip that the United States had controlled with the Louisiana Purchase and Canada would let go of the little bit that dipped below the 49th parallel.
At that point, there was a little bit of land that swapped hands, or swapped control, but it wasn’t any great amount of territory. The Oregon territory to the west and north of the United States was going to be jointly occupied by both Britain and the United States. They agreed that that would work for the time being. There were a lot of results of the War of 1812.
You’ll notice that, though it’s called The War of 1812, these agreements didn’t come about until many years later. The war actually went on until 1815. The Treaty of Ghent was signed at the end of 1814, but word of it didn’t actually reach the battlefields in time for them to just stop fighting. It was February of 1815 before the war actually came to an end, and it was 1818 before all the final negotiations were done from the war of 1812. Washington, D.C., for the first and only time, was invaded and parts of it burned, the capital destroyed.
We got the “Star-Spangled Banner”, a national anthem for the United States. The war did not accomplish its goal of getting neutral trading rights for American ships, but it was still considered a success in the United States, especially by James Madison, because we lost no major territory, the United States scored victories to keep the British from making extreme demands, the United States gained respect from European powers, the economy boomed, everyone forgot about the national bank failure, and nationalism exploded in the United States.
People had more of a patriotic, national spirit. There were three agreements that had a significant impact on relations between the United States and Britain. The Treaty of Ghent returned the relations and boundaries to their pre-war terms and proposed that commissions be formed in the future to settle differences rather than going to war. The Rush-Bagot treaty formally declared there’d be no naval race along the United States and Canadian border.
The Convention of 1818 declared the line of the 49th parallel to the border between Canada (British territory) and the United States and that the Oregon territory would be jointly occupied. There were a lot of results that came about and there were a lot of issues that got cleared up between Britain and the United States during the war of 1812.