Pop history proclaims that eager “War Hawks” … in the United States forced the War of 1812 upon the American people. Jeffersonians long antagonistic to the British empire wanted to strengthen our bonds with the French through a war. Claims are also made stating that expansionists wanted to use the war as a vehicle to finally take possession of Canada. Could all this be possible? Did American statesman foolishly risk our republic for such dubious motives?……the historical record can answer those questions….
Does James Madison sound like a saber-rattling tyrant … in his war message delivered June 1, 1812 ?
We behold, in fine, on the side of Great Britain, a state of war against the United States, and on the side of the United States a state of peace toward Great Britain…Whether the United States shall continue passive under these progressive usurpations and these accumulating wrongs, or, opposing force to force in defense of their national rights, is a solemn question which the Constitution wisely confides to the legislative department of the Government. In recommending it to their early deliberations I am happy in the assurance that the decision will be worthy the enlightened and patriotic councils of a virtuous, a free, and a powerful nation.
War Hawk and Speaker of the House Henry Clay… stated the case for war clearly in 1811
What are we to gain by war, has been emphatically asked? In reply, he would ask, what are we not to lose by peace?—commerce, character, a nation’s best treasure, honor! Let those who contend for this humiliating doctrine, read its refutation in the history of the very man against whose insatiable thirst of dominion we are warned. Let us come home to our own history. It was not by submission that our fathers achieved our independence.
Looking to our history