War of 1812

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Digital History ID 3800

War of 1812

Interpreting Primary Sources

Reading 1:

British cruisers have been in the continued practice of violating the American flag on the great highway of nations, and of seizing and carrying off persons sailing under it, not in the exercise of a belligerent right founded on the law of nations against an enemy, but of a municipal prerogative over British subjects....Under pretended blockades, without the presence of an adequate force and sometimes without the practicability of applying one, our commerce has been plundered in every sea, the great staples of our country have been cut off from their legitimate markets, and a destructive blow aimed at our agricultural and maritime interests....

In reviewing the conduct of Great Britain toward the United States our attention is necessarily drawn to the warfare just renewed by the savages on one of our extensive frontiers--a warfare which is known to spare neither age nor sex and to be distinguished by features peculiarly shocking to humanity.

President Madison's war message, 1812

Reading 2:

First. Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this union, according to their respective numbers of free persons....

Second. No new state shall be admitted into the Union...without the concurrence of two thirds of both houses.

Third. Congress shall not have power to lay any embargo on the ships or vessels of the citizens of the United States...for more than sixty days.

Fifth. Congress shall not make or declare war...without concurrence of two thirds of both houses....

>Seventh. The same person shall not be elected president of the United States a second time; nor shall the president be elected form the same state two terms in succession.

Hartford Convention

Questions To Think About

1. Why did the United States declare war on Great Britain in 1812?

2. Why did New England Federalists oppose the war? What revisions did they seek in the Constitution?


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