The War of 1812

Primary Source Set

The War of 1812, a war between the United States and Great Britain, took place between 1812 and 1814. Ending effectively in a draw with relatively few casualties, the war is sometimes barely mentioned in US history courses and sometimes omitted from British history courses. However, in many ways, this conflict formally established independence from Great Britain for the United States. It is celebrated as the origin of Canada’s nationhood. For many Native American nations, it marked an end to thousands of years of sovereign habitation of the North American continent east of the Mississippi. With its causes rooted in trade disputes and internal conflicts, its epic battles remembered in poems and song, and its outcome resulting in a new American nationalism, the War of 1812 holds many compelling storylines. These include conflicts in the West, relationships between Native Americans and white Americans, and pivotal battles of Baltimore and New Orleans. With the sources in this set, together with prior knowledge, students can fill in the timeline of this crucial war and begin to answer the question, “Why do we care about the War of 1812?”

Additional resources for research

  1. Military Resources: War of 1812, National Archives and Records Administration.
  2. The War of 1812, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.
  3. A Guide to the War of 1812, Library of Congress.
  4. The War of 1812 in the Collections of the Lilly Library, Indiana University Bloomington.

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