October 28

Blog #66 – War of 1812 Debate

You’ve heard the arguments, now decide where America should have headed that summer of 1812.

Bro, lend me your advice.

Let’s say you had President Madison’s ear (no, not really, that would be gross).  But let’s say you could sway him with your amazing argumentation skills.

And you’d just heard the four arguments (which I’m about to sum up for those reading at home):

Option 1 – All out war with Britain – this means invading Canada to stop them from supplying our Indians w/ weapons; it also means setting sail to do battle with the mammoth British navy.  Yes, that British navy.  We must defend ourselves and our rights from being violated.

Option 2 – Strictly limited to naval war – land invasion is too costly and Canada might be a pesky target to invade (who knew?), therefore, we’ll attack them in the Caribbean while the British are busy w/ the French.  Or we’ll bombard Canadian towns.  Or make mayhem on the high seas.

Option 3 – wait until we’re ready to make war – obviously Britain is too big and burly right now, so let’s wait until we build up our meager armed forces into something a little more formidable and then go and attack.  We might just catch them by surprise.  Everyone loves a good surprise.

Option 4 – Peace is the only recourse – seriously?  You want to take on the British?  The last time we battled them we had loads of help, and this time around we can’t even count on that.  Our army is small and navy is miniscule by comparison.  Rights, smights, who needs them?

Using notes from the debate, and your own common sense, give President Madison your learned opinion who will then steer America on the correct course.  Nothing is at stake here but the future of the country.  No pressure.

Your  opinion is due by class on Thursday, October 30.  250 words minimum. 

October 15

Blog #56 – Did America “win” the War of 1812?

America went to war with Britain and Canada over three main issues:  1. freedom of the seas for trade; 2. gaining new land like Canada; 3. dealing with Indian issues.

Since the French Revolution, British and French navies seized American ships and sailors who had been caught up in trading either in the West Indies or in Europe.  In order to keep America out of these situations, President Jefferson approved of the Embargo Act of 1807 which ended all American trade with the world.   Even the dust-up with the American (Chesapeake) and British ship (Leopard) in 1807 ten miles off the coast of Virginia raised Americans’ blood pressure.  When we began trading with the rest of the world (Non-Intercourse Act and Macon’s Bill No. 2), more impressment and interference made American shipping a difficult business.

The War Hawks saw Canada as a great prize to be taken if the Americans attacked.  They thought that with Britain distracted by Napoleon’s war, the Canadians would be an easy target for a coordinated American invasion.  American forces invaded not once but twice, in 1812 and in 1813, and the only successful win was the Battle of the Thames where Shawnee chief Tecumseh was killed. In 1814, the Canadian capitol, York (modern day Toronto) was burned by American forces, but Canada proved to be extremely difficult to capture – we invaded Canada with only 5,000 soldiers/ militia while in Europe, Napoleon invaded Russia with half a million soldiers and still lost!  In addition, the southern and western War Hawks wanted to capture Canada to stop the New Englanders from illegally trading with Canada (seen as a traitorous act b/c we were at Britain / Canada).

Lastly, Americans on the frontier (Northwest territory, Southern territories like Alabama and Mississippi and Spanish File:Battle of tippecanoe, battlefield map.jpgFlorida) had been fighting the Indians and white Americans continued to encroach on their territory.  For instance, Indiana territorial governor William Henry Harrison negotiated the transfer of 3 million acres in Indiana with the Treaty of Fort Wayne signed with the Pottawattomie, Lanape, and Miami tribes in 1809.  This treaty had angered Tecumseh and his brother, the Prophet (Tenskwatawa) who wanted Indians to not sign treaties with America, and return to their old ways by getting rid of alcohol, finished clothes, farming, and Christianity.  Harrison’s forces kill the Prophet at Tippecanoe in 1811, and Tecumseh continues to fight until 1813 when he was killed at the Battle of the Thames.  Andrew Jackson also defeated Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814 in Alabama before heading to New Orleans to defeat the British.  Jackson would later campaign into Florida a couple of years after the War of 1812 and seize the territory by defeating the Seminoles and taking the Spanish capitol, Pensacola.


The Treaty of Ghent was essentially an armistice, or an end to the fighting.  The British didn’t get their Indian buffer zone in the Great Lakes area nor did they get Maine and Minnesota like they had originally proposed.  The British had stopped impressment of American soldiers after the Napoleonic Wars were over in 1814.  And Canada remained safe from American invasion, so the borders all remained where they were before the war.  The treaty released all prisoners and seized ships, and Britain and America gave back territory that they had held at the end of the war (including Fort Mackinac).

So, looking at the three goals that America had going into the war, the only one that we had achieved was dealing with Indian issues.  The British and the French stopped impressment of American sailors without us having to resort to much naval warfare.  We failed in our attempt at taking Canada from the Brits, so why is this war considered an American victory?  Or should it be considered a tie, much like the Korean War where after three years of bloody fighting (1950-53), an armistice was also signed and little if any land changed hands.

Canadians don’t think of this as an American victory; they see it as a joint British / Canadian victory.

What’s your opinion on the War of 1812?  Is it a victory (a second war for American Independence like the book mentioned) or is it a defeat like the Canadians believe?  Or should it be regarded as a tie between Britain and America (which, considering the relative military might of both countries, may be considered a win for America)?   Explain your answer in at least 250 words

Due Monday, October 21 by class time. 

August 31

New due dates, War of 1812 Contest and other stuff

1. Hey folks, I forgot that the original due date that I had given you for all of the finished Mayflower work (Parts 3 and 4 questions, vocab on the Google Doc, and blog below)  is Tuesday, Sept. 6th, not today, Wed. August 31st.  If you’re all done w/ the work, bonus for you.   If you want to get started on the school year’s homework, it’s already posted at my Fusion page (http://tinyurl.com/wick25). 

Link to Google Doc for Mayflower vocab: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Ag_7cJC2L8hqdEo2UjAwTEdQWmNYVk8wdnNWeXFycUE&hl=en_US 

“1491” article link – https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=1HjvrLQOhFQ3VYPe80m8y33clvOIw6QRW7kz6Yej9tlLr4BsNIfKev_SEZ8zb&hl=en

Reading instructions for “1491” – https://docs.google.com/document/d/1skWnixOehpc9CNexTWUbsPfO29J9cPFZc4oarh_2s2k/edit?hl=en_US

2. There is an essay contest on the effects of the War of 1812 on Michigan sponsored by the Michigan Council for History Education.  $100 for 1st place and $50 for 2nd place.  Here’s the criteria:


Best part is that it’s not due until early April and it’s only 1,000 max.  I will help anyone who wants to do this.  I’d like to see several entries from Groves entered in this contest. 

3. I’m thinking of starting a APUSH book club that might meet once a month or every 45 days, depending upon the school schedule.  This will be open to both students AND parents and will meet in the evening (say around 7 p.m.) and will last for about an hour where we’ll talk about the book.   And after Early APUSH is over, you will still be invited to come b/c we’ll move on into the stuff that we’ve covered as a class last year but read cool books about it.  It will be a good way for you to keep the history info fresh in your head and probably learn new stuff along the way.  There will be no extra credit for any of this.  It’s just to make ourselves smarter and to hang out and have a good time. 

 4. One of our first projects is for you to make a very short (less than five minute) mockumentary / advertisement for one of the original 13 colonies – the premise being that you are trying to encourge Europeans to come to your colony to emigrate and prosper.  This will include both classes 1st and 4th hours, so figure out who you want to work with, but don’t set your hopes on any particular colony.  You cannot shotty Pennsylvania or Massachusetts.  More details about the criteria to follow. 

5. Another essay contest – sponsored by the Bill of Rights Institute –

How does the Constitution establish and maintain a culture of liberty?

Similar specs for the essay in #2 (1000 words max) but you must submit it between Sept. 17 – Dec. 15, 2011.  Details for rules and regulations, click here: http://my.billofrightsinstitute.org/page.aspx?pid=1193  Prize money is much more substantial since it’s a national contest: $1,000, $500, and $250. 

Again, you will have my help with getting this done. 

6.  Google the term “flipping the classroom” and then tell me what you find in the comments section.  Do you think it’s do-able for our class?  Why or why not? 

Thanks.  Your feedback is always appreciated. 

Da Boss

November 10

Blog #6 – Was the War of 1812 the 2nd American Revolution?

The War of 1812 is called America’s 2nd War for Independence by our textbook, “but a footnote to the mighty European conflagration…with huge consequences for the United States” (Kennedy 222).  The reasons are numerous:

1. America, as a young nation, gained a newfound respect from the European belligerents through the “hot breath of their [ships’] broadsides” and the defeat of the British army at the Battle of New Orleans (Andrew Jackson video).  This was a diplomatic and military victory for our country (222).   After the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815, Europe receded into a “peace of exhaustion…[with a] return to conservatism, illliberalism, and reaction” (222). 

2.  “Sectionalism…was dealt a black eye” and exhibited the “folly of sectional disunity” in which the biggest casualty was the Federalist Party b/c of its association with New England’s support for the British.   In a way, the war helped unify the country by getting rid of one party and ushering in the Era of Good Feelings. 

3. American manufacturing exploded b/c of the embargo, and in a sense, this war gave America a stronger sense of economic and diplomatic independence and less dependent upon European manufactured goods. 

4. Kennedy, et. al. felt that  the development of American nationalism was the “most impressive by-product” of the war.  This nationalism showed itself in a national literature like Washington Irving and James Fenimore Cooper.  A tide of national pride also helped with the renewal of the Central Bank of the U.S. in 1816 and more capital was invested in the burgeoning economy. 

These are all good and valid reasons why they call the War of 1812 another American war for independence.  But, these reasons are all short term gains for the United States and neglect much more severe long term effects that have more dramatic consequences for the country. 

1.  By the time of the Civil War, the American military was still a small force but was much better educated because of the West Point Academy where most of the CW officers were trained.   That a ragtag band of Americans won at New Orleans in 1815 is testament to not only the great leadership of Andrew Jackson but of poor leadership of the British generals as well.   These West Point grads were seasoned on the battlefields of Mexico and out West fighting the Indians as America grasped to the Pacific Ocean for land. 

2. Sectionalism never died, it predominantly moved South.  I think that this is the most ridiculous of their arguments – that sectionalism faded away. Yes, the Federalist Party died, but the Whig Party emerged within 15-20 years after disagreements over federal spending projects.  

 – Sectionalism soon flared up in 1819 and 1820 when it was time to figure out what to do w/ Missouri and the rest of the Louisiana territories when determining their slave status.  It would rear its ugly head almost every time slavery came up – the tariff issue in 1832-33, the Mexican War, the Wilmot Proviso, Compromise of 1850, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Kansas-Nebraska Act, Dred Scott decision, Lecompton constitution, Lincoln-Douglas debates, Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry, and then the 1860 Election w/ 4 candidates. 

3. Though American manufacturing grew stronger during the war, the British dumped their excess cheap goods on the American market in a crude version of economic warfare.    The economic battle eventually led to the tariff fight of 1828-1833 and America’s first brush w/ nullification and secession. 

4. Nationalism is an important aspect of a country’s development like a nation’s literature or its economy.  However, the Central Bank was dismantled by Andrew Jackson in the 1830s soon to be followed by the Panic of 1837.  The loss of this bank may have hindered the development of American capitalism before and after the Civil War and could have prevented or forestalled the Depressions of 1877 and 1897. 

5. Overall, America’s main goal of this war at the very beginning was to capitalize on Britain’s attention being directed at France and therefore we had hoped to seize Canada as part of our next great American land grab.   Since that goal was thwarted by 1815, American attention turned southward towards Mexico, Cuba and other territories.  Remember, the Mexican War didn’t start because innocent American soldiers were fired upon while they were walking along the Rio Grande River.  They were acting on direct orders of the president to invade the disputed border area of Texas when they were fired upon.   The War of 1812 set a dangerous precedent in American foreign policy with our country acting as the imperialist.  We have invaded smaller, weaker nations to exploit their economic, geographic or physical resources since the Mexican War, and it could have started in 1812 if the Canadians hadn’t stopped us. 

6. Lastly, the War of 1812 left the Native Americans to fend for themselves with the American government and the ever-expanding U.S. ppopulation.  Our need for land rubbed against Indian sovereignty, and as historian Robert Remini explained in his book, Andrew Jackson and His Indian Wars, the removal of the Native Americans from the East Coast was also a homeland security issue.  3 times in the past 75 years had various native tribes risen up amongst us and sided with American foes when those European forces invaded our shores (F & I War, Revolution, and 1812).  To prevent this internal security threat from happening again, reason said that they needed to be moved far away from the coast where they wouldn’t be much of a threat (and as an added bonus, more valuable land was freed up for settlement in the process). 

What do you think? 

Was this War of 1812 a 2nd war of American independence?  Or was the war the beginning of American expansionism / opportunism that flew in the face of Washington’s advise to stay out of foreign entanglements?  Or is there another interpretation for the war of 1812 that could combine both? Explain. 

200 words minimum.  Due Friday 11/12/10.