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The Presidency of James Madison

As the new nation grew and it's foreign policy of avoiding permanent alliance became defined it sought out trade relationships. America was determined to grow and become prosperous. It was inevitable that there would be affairs with England and France as they were the two strongest powers of the time. Eventually that contact, as Washington feared, brought America to the brink of war.

I. The Presidency of James Madison

A. The War of 1812

1. Policy under Jefferson

  • English and French had been blocking and seizing American ships
  • Jefferson tried to negotiate. This led to the XYZ Affair
  • Jefferson orders an embargo

In the election of 1808, Madison, a Republican, beat Pinckney, a Federalist.

In 1810 the War Hawks were elected to Congress - These included John C. Calhoun, South Carolina and Henry Clay, Kentucky

These men were called the Ware Hawks because they were looking for an excuse to go to war. They did not feel that the US was getting any respect. England had never recognized the US, they felt slighted and angry!

2. Causes of War of 1812

  • Impressment - US ships and sailors were being seized and forced to work on British ships. The British never officially recognized the US and viewed our sailors as THEIR citizens. Violated the concept of Freedom of the Seas.
  • US finds out that the English were inciting the Indians. Tecumseh, an Indian chieftain attempts to wage war and loses to William Henry Harrison.

Went poorly at first losing Detroit and failing to mount an attack. Later we won important naval battle on Lake Erie regained Detroit and attacked and defeated the British and Tecumseh at York, now Toronto. By 1814, however, British naval superiority began to tell and Britain had numerous armies in America. One burned Washington D.C. and Madison was forced to leave the White House. British attacks then stalled at Baltimore and Niagara. The Battle of New Orleans with the rogue Andrew Jackson leading American forces was the lat triumph. Note that the war had actually ended prior to the battle.

3. Results of the War of 1812

  • Washington DC burned to the ground by the British
  • War ends in a tie - armistice signed at Treaty of Ghent
  • US officially recognized by England
  • William Henry Harrison becomes an American hero from the Battle of Tippecanoe
  • Andrew Jackson becomes an American hero from the battle of New Orleans


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