Atlantic History War of 1812
by
Troy Bickham
  • LAST REVIEWED: 11 December 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 21 January 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199730414-0060

Introduction

The Anglo-America War of 1812 has traditionally been a much-neglected subject for American historical inquiry, leading to the commonly applied label “America’s forgotten war.” As for the British, the historian William Kingsford’s remark at the end of the 19th century that the war had not been forgotten, “for they have never known it there,” held true for the following century. Sandwiched between the American Revolution and the rise of Andrew Jackson in American history and overshadowed in British history by the Napoleonic Wars, the War of 1812 typically merited a quiet mention in larger studies. Canada is an important exception, as historians have long battled over the legitimacy of the national myth that the War of 1812 was a kind of Canadian war of independence from its larger, aggressive southern neighbor. Another exception are the American military and naval historians who have acutely detailed the operational history of the war and through it established the foundational myth of the modern US Navy and, to a lesser extent, the US Army. To this can be added several acute studies of US national politics, diplomatic histories, biographies of major actors, and Donald R. Hickey’s efforts to synthesize this material into a comprehensive study. The bicentennial of the conflict has fundamentally altered the course of scholarship on the War of 1812. No longer a forgotten war or the stomping ground of a small circle of historians, the War of 1812 has drawn the attention of a wide range of scholars hailing from a variety of nations and scholarly perspectives. Although the majority of the new scholarship consists of fresh operational and national political studies from a predominately US perspective, there are an increasing number of works that also examine the conflict from transcontinental, international, cultural, and social perspectives. In consequence, the experiences of American Indians, Britons, Canadians, African slaves, and women are all now part of the broader historical narrative, albeit one that remains incomplete and open to new contributions. Overwhelmingly, this scholarship asserts in concert the importance of the conflict for the various participating nations and communities both at the time and for their respective historical trajectories.

General Overviews

Modern scholarship of the War of 1812 began with Adams 1999 (originally published 1891), a multivolume study of the period at the end of the 19th century. As part of the old patrician family and true to the scholarship of his time, Adams focuses his study on the elite politics of the period. This set the tone for a century of scholarship in which general histories of the conflict leaned strongly in favor of a US perspective and primarily focused on the military and elite political aspects of the war. Hickey 1989 marked the highpoint of this interpretation and remains a standard work. Within this framework came a number of works, both academic and popular, most notably Borneman 2004, that portrayed the conflict as a founding element of the United States, in which the military exploits are secondary to the wider narrative that focuses on the consequences of near defeat and perceived victory in forming an American national identity. Throughout most of the 20th century, general surveys of American history largely ignored or underplayed the significant of the War of 1812. Wood 2009, a volume in the landmark Oxford History of the United States series, included substantial discussions of the conflict, its origins, and its consequences and formally marked the end of the War of 1812’s relegation to the footnotes of the broader narrative of American history. The bicentennial of the War of 1812 not surprisingly attracted a large number of revised and new accounts, including Stagg 2012, a brief but comprehensive narrative summary of the conflict from an American perspective. The bicentennial also attracted broader attention from a range of historians seeking to provide more balanced accounts by considering the transatlantic and broader North American perspectives as well as the social and cultural elements of the war. The results have included reinterpretations of the United States–Canada element of the conflict as a civil war (Taylor 2010) and a rehabilitation of the importance of the war from a transatlantic perspective (Bickham 2012).

  • Adams, Henry. The War of 1812. New York: Cooper Square, 1999.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Originally published in 1891 and available in multiple reprinted editions since then, this volume is part of Adams’s multivolume study of this period from the late-19th century. While somewhat dated in both approach and source selection, its attention to detail remains impressive, and it set the standard for scholarship on the subject for over a century.

    Find this resource:

  • Bickham, Troy. The Weight of Vengeance: The United States, the British Empire, and the War of 1812. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A broad study of the conflict from a transatlantic perspective. Particularly useful for its balanced consideration of the US and British imperial strategic dimensions as well as its examination of the popular press in North America, the United Kingdom, and the Caribbean.

    Find this resource:

  • Borneman, Walter R. 1812: The War that Forged a Nation. New York: HarperCollins, 2004.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Well-written and accessible popular account of the conflict from a predominately US perspective.

    Find this resource:

  • Hickey, Donald R. The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Available in multiple editions, this was the standard scholarly account for two decades. Strong focus on US political and military aspects of the conflict.

    Find this resource:

  • Stagg, J. C. A. The War of 1812: Conflict for a Continent. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Part of the Cambridge Essential Histories series, this is a comprehensive study of the conflict that judiciously summarizes Stagg’s considerable scholarship on the United States during this period.

    Find this resource:

  • Taylor, Alan. The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, & Indian Allies. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Well-written, balanced study of the political, social, and cultural aspects of the conflict that focuses particularly on the divisions along the United States–Canadian borderlands.

    Find this resource:

  • Wood, Gordon S. Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Part of the Oxford History of the United States series. A lengthy and comprehensive study of the early republican period in American history that includes several chapters that closely examine the War of 1812.

    Find this resource:

Primary Sources

There is a wealth of digitized and printed primary sources. Ballads, pamphlets, and newspapers can be accessed through a variety of open and subscription services, the largest of which are Readex, a collection of US materials, Gale’s Eighteenth Century Collections Online for British and some North American sources, and the British Newspaper Archive. While Canada does not have a central location for digitized material, many of the individual provinces are in the process of creating public access archives that contain newspapers and other related documents. The Library of Congress’s US Newspaper Directory, which runs from 1690 to the present, is an excellent resource for identifying what local newspapers survived and where they can be found. Both the British Museum and the Library of Congress have digitized thousands of satirical prints, maps, and portraits related to the War of 1812, and these searchable collections are freely open to the public. The public and private papers of many of the leading military and political figures have also been published, several parts of which are available online—most notably the Massachusetts Historical Society’s considerable collection of the Adams Family Papers and the Papers of James Madison project at the University of Virginia. Chadwyck-Healey’s vast collection of 19th-century House of Commons Parliamentary Papers are papers of Congress and official diplomatic correspondence via the Library of Congress’s American State Papers Collection. In addition to these searchable electronic databases, there are a variety of useful printed sources. In general, printed collections of the various US players are far more abundant, in no small part because so many later military and political leaders made their start in the War of 1812. A useful introductory selection is Hickey 2013. Military documents relating to the Northern theater are usefully collected in a number of printed sources, including Cruikshank 1971a, Cruikshank 1971b, and Wood 1920–1928. Dudley 1985– is a comprehensive collection of the naval war. Comparative comprehensive collections of the Southern theater are not as readily available; however, the Historic New Orleans Collection also has a growing digital collection. Another useful source is Latour 1816, which details the wider Gulf campaign. Printed British sources are considerably rarer than American ones. Dunlop 1967 and Graves 1993 are two excellent diaries of British officers fighting in Canada that include insightful reflections that highlight the complexities of the war.

Biographies

There are a host of biographies of the major North American characters of the war, particularly those from the United States. In American history, the War of 1812 provided a transition from the remnant revolutionary generation, personified by the likes of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison (Gutzman 2012), and James Monroe (Unger 2009), to the next generation that would govern and lead the United States, exemplified by Andrew Jackson (Remini 1977), Henry Clay (Heidler 2010), and John Quincy Adams (Edel 2014). Dungan 2010 provides an important study of the often-overshadowed but consequential, Albert Gallatin, who did more than any other American to secure peace at Ghent in 1814. Tecumseh is perhaps the best-known American Indian before 1850, and his powerful image and legend have attracted numerous biographies, of which Sugden 1998 is, arguably, the best. In contrast, biographies of the major British leaders give little attention to the War of 1812, focusing instead on the greater task of wars with France (Bew 2012). British commanders who served in the Canadas have garnered significant attention, the highlights of which are in the Military Operational section. The recent rehabilitative political biography of Sir George Prevost (Grodzinski 2013) is a valuable study of Canadian politics and the relationship between British North America and the rest of the Empire. For short biographies of major and minor characters, which include helpful bibliographies of related primary and secondary sources, see the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, the Dictionary of Canadian Biography/Dictionnaire Biographique du Canada, and American National Biography, which are available in both print and regularly updated online editions.

American Indian Participation and Experiences

American Indian history during this period has attracted sustained scholarly interest. Allen 1992 and Calloway 1987 provide comprehensive studies of British–American Indian relations during this period, with a heavy emphasis on Canada. The powerful themes of American Indian resistance, highlighted by religious and cultural revivalism and pan-Indianism, is exemplified in Dowd 1992. In more recent decades, studies have shifted away from strict diplomatic and military histories and toward examinations that include cultural history. Influenced by White 1991 and the scholarship it synthesized and spurred, many of these studies highlight the complex and often overlapping divisions that challenge the traditional European-native dichotomy and demonstrate the internal struggles and disunity that dogged American Indian societies. Benn 1998, an examination of the complexities of the Iroquois response to the War of 1812; Antal 2011, a critical study of the Upper Canada–Michigan border war that highlights the multiracial and ethnic intricacies of the border war; and Jortner 2011, a study of Prophetstown, are important examples. The essays in Braund 2012 provide an important reappraisal of American Indians’ experiences in the Southern theater.

  • Allen, Robert S. His Majesty’s Indian Allies: British Indian Policy in the Defence of Canada, 1774–1815. Toronto: Dundurn, 1992.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Paints a largely positive portrait of British–American Indian relations and allied operations from the eve of the American War for Independence through the War of 1812. Largely portrays the related events of the War of 1812 as being direct consequences of the transactions of the American revolutionary era.

    Find this resource:

  • Antal, Sandy. A Wampum Denied: Procter’s War of 1812. 2d ed. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2011.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Detailed, critical account of warfare on the Upper Canada–Michigan border primarily from the American Indian and British-Canadian perspectives. Rehabilitates the image of Henry Procter, the British commander, and explains the complex context of competing interests and racial and ethnic divisions in which he fought.

    Find this resource:

  • Benn, Carl. The Iroquois in the War of 1812. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Comprehensive account of the Iroquois participation in the War of 1812, describing Iroquois reluctance, strategy, diplomacy, and military operations.

    Find this resource:

  • Braund, Kathryn E. Holland, ed. Tohopeka: Rethinking the Creek War and the War of 1812. Auburn, AL: Pebble Hill, 2012.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A collection of essays by a range of leading scholars that critically reassess the Creek War and its relationship to the wider War of 1812.

    Find this resource:

  • Calloway, Colin G. Crown and Calumet: British–Indian relations, 1783–1815. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1987.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Detailed account of British–American Indian relations that is highly critical of British diplomacy and strategic objectives.

    Find this resource:

  • Dowd, Gregory Evans. A Spirited Resistance: The North American Indian Struggle for Unity, 1745–1815. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Comprehensive study that provides important contextual background for any exploration of the American Indian experience of the War of 1812.

    Find this resource:

  • Jortner, Adam. The Gods of Prophetstown: The Battle of Tippecanoe and the Holy War for the American Frontier. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Comprehensive examination of the complex cultural, economic, and diplomatic tensions that reigned in the northwest borderlands of the early American republic and culminated in the Battle of Tippecanoe. Provides important background to the War of 1812.

    Find this resource:

  • White, Richard. The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650–1815. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511584671Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Broad and influential re-examination of American Indian history that includes the War of 1812 and challenges the traditional European–native dichotomy.

    Find this resource:

Canada and the Northern United States

Studies of Canada are largely a mixture of narrative histories of specific colonies and critical challenges to the Canadian founding myth that reveres the War of 1812 to be a kind of war of independence fought by steadfastly loyal Canadians against their more powerful and aggressive neighbors. Sheppard 1994, an acute study Upper Canada militia and regular service records, unequivocally shatters any serious notion that the War of 1812 was a popular war. Errington 1987, Mills 1988, and Little 2008 highlight the complex and competing system of American, British, and local loyalties in Upper Canada that were stretched during the War of 1812 and reformed in its aftermath. Boileau 2005 and Taylor 2010 are examples of the re-envisioning of the United States–Canada theater as a civil war for the myriad of peoples that inhabited the borderlands. Zuehlke 2006 offers an interpretation of the peace negotiations and their consequences with a significant emphasis on Canada.

  • Boileau, John. Half-Hearted Enemies: Nova Scotia, New England and the War of 1812. Halifax, NS: Formac, 2005.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Narrative of the War of 1812 primarily from the perspective of Nova Scotia that highlights its people’s general reluctance to engage in open conflict with their primary trading partners.

    Find this resource:

  • Errington, Jane. The Lion, the Eagle, and Upper Canada: A Developing Colonial Ideology. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1987.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Important study that highlights cultural, social, political, and economic divisions within early Upper Canada and how in many ways it was as much a colony of the United States as it was of the British Empire.

    Find this resource:

  • Little, John. Loyalties in Conflict: A Canadian Borderland in War and Rebellion, 1812–1840. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A study of the border townships of Francophone-dominated Lower Canada, which were settled largely by Anglophone American loyalists from New York.

    Find this resource:

  • Mills, David. The Idea of Loyalty in Upper Canada, 1784–1850. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1988.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Re-examination of Upper Canadian history that describes the evolving and often conflicted idea of loyalty in colonial society in which the War of 1812 (and how it was remembered) played a central role.

    Find this resource:

  • Sheppard, George. Plunder, Profit, and Paroles: A Social History of the War of 1812 in Upper Canada. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1994.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Important study of military participation that widens Errington’s challenge to the Canadian nationalist myth of Upper Canadian stalwart loyalty in the face of US invasions during the War of 1812.

    Find this resource:

  • Taylor, Alan. The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, & Indian Allies. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Well-written, balanced study of the political, social, and cultural aspects of the conflict that focuses particularly on the divisions along the United States–Canadian borderlands.

    Find this resource:

  • Zuehlke, Mark. For Honour’s Sake: The War of 1812 and the Brokering of an Uneasy Peace. Toronto: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Detailed narrative of the political and military history of the War of 1812, with a heavy emphasis on Canada and the United States–Canada border.

    Find this resource:

National Politics of the United States

The vast majority of studies of the War of 1812 are either operational military or national political history, particularly before the outpouring of scholarship surrounding the war’s bicentennial. In this section are some of the highlights of the political histories. Many are guilty of oversimplifying the British position, whether in the British Isles or Canada, at the expense of presenting a narrative in which the Americans are dynamic and for whom the stakes were monumentally greater. Perkins 1961 and Perkins 1964 are important, although increasingly dated, exceptions to the neglect of British sources. A regular line of argument is that the war nearly destroyed the United States, exemplified in Buel 2005. Stagg 1983 and Banner 1970 provide more nuanced views of the national divisions. Howard 2012 takes national politics to the level of the First Couple in an interesting, if narrow, view of national politics.

  • Banner, James. To the Hartford Convention: The Federalists and the Origins of Party Politics in Massachusetts, 1789–1815. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1970.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Highly detailed account of party politics in Massachusetts and New England that culminated in the Hartford Convention. Does much to explain why the convention did not result in a New England secession.

    Find this resource:

  • Buel, Richard Jr. America on the Brink: How the Political Struggle over the War of 1812 Almost Destroyed the Young Republic. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Narrative of US national political and diplomatic history. Asserts that national political divisions over the war nearly resulted in the collapse of the United States.

    Find this resource:

  • Howard, Hugh. Mr. and Mrs. Madison’s War: America’s First Couple and the Second War of Independence. New York: Bloomsbury, 2012.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Study that selects crisis points of the conflict and describes experiences and reactions of the president and first lady.

    Find this resource:

  • Perkins, Bradford. Prologue to War: England and the United States, 1805–1812. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1961.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines the political origins of the conflict perspective of the national leaders of Britain and the United States. Often cited by subsequent histories of the War of 1812, it overemphasizes the centrality of the United States at the expense of other participant nations and peoples.

    Find this resource:

  • Perkins, Bradford. Castlereagh and Adams: England and the United States, 1812–1823. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1964.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A continuation of Prologue to War (Perkins 1961), this study provides a traditional diplomatic history of the Britain and the United States from the outbreak of the War of 1812 through the Monroe Doctrine. Like its predecessor, the volume provides a worthy acute study of the intersection of national politics and diplomacy but at the expense of overemphasizing the centrality of the United States and discounting the wide range of other participants in the conflict.

    Find this resource:

  • Stagg, J. C. A. Mr. Madison’s War: Politics, Diplomacy, and Warfare in the Early American Republic, 1783–1830. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1983.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Detailed description of the political context in which James Madison and his contemporaries operated and their maneuverings.

    Find this resource:

Southern United States and Spanish Borderlands

Comprehensive accounts of the War of 1812 have long focused on the northern dimensions of the conflict, with the exceptions of the burning of Washington, the defense of Baltimore, and the Battle of New Orleans. Vogel 2014 is an engaging account of the first two critical events. The Battle of New Orleans is the most written about battle of the war, and Remini 1999 is a highly readable account. A revisionist interpretation can be found in Drez 2014. Yet a balanced investigation of the conflict must look more beyond the flashpoints. In This section lists some important works that highlight the transcontinental nature of the War of 1812, which in many ways served as an umbrella for a host of smaller conflicts that raged across North America. A broad view of the Southern theater can be found in Owsley 1981. Stagg 2009 provides a comprehensive account of United States–Spanish relations and the border regions during the decades encompassing the War of 1812. Cusick 2003 is an excellent study of Florida campaigns, providing an acute operational narrative as well as an important analysis of how they interacted with the wider struggle for North American hegemony during the War of 1812.

African Slaves and Slavery

The role of African Americans, slaves and free, have historically received little attention in studies of the War of 1812. The exception are studies of the defense of New Orleans (which included a number of slaves and free people of color), such as Remini 1999 (cited under Southern United States and Spanish Borderlands) and Groom 2007. This changed in the outpouring of scholarship that coincided with the bicentennial, most notably Taylor 2013 and Smith 2013.

British Isles

The vast majority of scholarship focuses on the North American aspects of the conflict, particularly from the perspective of the United States. However, this imbalance is more a reflection of the size and interests of the present nations than of the historical realities. Simply put, the War of 1812 proved critical in the histories of the American Indians, Canada, and the United States but has been largely ignored by British historians, who mostly treat the conflict as a distraction or small colonial war in the general histories of the period. Yet at the time, the war with the United States mattered a great deal to the British, as the Americans were both their most important overseas market and an emerging maritime trading rival (Tolley 1969). For the British colonies in the Caribbean, the United States was an important market and primary provider of food that fed the immense slave population. In consequence, there was a great deal of interest in the conflict in the British Isles, as expressed in national political circles, local debates, merchant records, and the popular press—as Bickham 2012 demonstrates. All this transpired within the context of the Napoleonic Wars, which contoured British policy and responses to the United States both before and during the War of 1812, as described in Black 2009. Focusing primarily on the naval conflict, Lambert 2012 takes issue with historical and current claims of an American victory, dismantling the exaggerated American naval triumphs and reasserting the case for the importance and dominance of the Royal Navy.

Cultural

The cultural history of the War of 1812 remains underexplored, and the preponderance of scholarship comes from historians interested primarily in the United States. An important exception is the cultural study of military service, particularly the militia, most notably Cress 1982 and Sheppard 1994 (cited under Canada and the Northern United States). Graves 2007 provides a rare attempt to chronicle the impact of the war on women. Gribbin 1973 offers an excellent study of how divisive the war proved for American religious institutions. Although the result does not match the ambition of the undertaking, Eustace 2012 is singular in its attempt at a broader cultural history of the conflict. In consequence, the best studies remain the wider examinations of the emergence of an American national identity and popular politics during this period that include some analysis specific the War of 1812, such as Watts 1987 and Waldstreicher 1997. Also notable is Zagarri 2007, as both an important study of the politics of women and as a model for examining the impact of national politics on Americans outside the halls of official power. Yokota 2011 presents the compelling reinterpretation of the United States as a postcolonial society in an effort to explain the national political, cultural, and social behaviors of the early American republic.

  • Cress, Lawrence. Citizens in Arms: The Army and the Militia in American Society to the War of 1812. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1982.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Studies the ideological role of the military and the political life of colonial America and the early republic. Provides an important explanatory context for the American political and operational strategy of relying heavily on militia during the War of 1812.

    Find this resource:

  • Eustace, Nicole. 1812: War and the Passions of Patriotism. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A thesis-driven study that utilizes a range of printed sources to attempt a needed cultural history of the War of 1812 but ultimately narrows its attention on the political imagination of white Americans in the northern United States.

    Find this resource:

  • Graves, Dianne. In the Midst of Alarms: The Untold Story of Women and the War of 1812. Toronto: Robin Brass Studio, 2007.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Largely gleaned from secondary and printed primary sources, the book chronicles the experiences of women participants in the war, predominately along the United States–Canadian border.

    Find this resource:

  • Gribbin, William. The Churches Militant: The War of 1812 and American Religion. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1973.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines anti- and prowar sermons of American Christians, predominately from New England, New York, and Pennsylvania, and argues that the war intensified existing denominational disputes and acted as a watershed for 19th-century American Protestantism and its defining traits of evangelism and moral reform.

    Find this resource:

  • Waldstreicher, David. In the Midst of Perpetual Fetes: The Making of American Nationalism, 1776–1820. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Engaging examination of the cultural importance of the political festivals in the early American republic that details the role of print culture in creating a national identity.

    Find this resource:

  • Watts, Steven. The Republic Reborn: War and the Making of Liberal America, 1790–1820. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examination of the postrevolutionary cultural formation of the United States in which the War of 1812 plays a central role, with a particularly illuminating discussion of citizenship.

    Find this resource:

  • Yokota, Kariann Akemi. Unbecoming British: How Revolutionary America Became a Postcolonial Nation. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Depicts the United States as a postcolonial nation, providing an important cultural context to the American causes and conduct of the War of 1812.

    Find this resource:

  • Zagarri, Rosemarie. Revolutionary Backlash: Women and Politics in the Early American Republic. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Critically examines the changing political status of women and how they engaged with local and national politics, including the debates surrounding origins and waging of the War of 1812.

    Find this resource:

Military Operational

The preponderance of studies that narrate and analyze the history of the War of 1812 do so from a military operational perspective, and this section has just some examples of this type of scholarship. Mahon 1972, Elting 1991, and Quimby 1998 provide the broadest studies. Ferguson 2012 is an excellent example of the operations in the western border regions. Neimeyer 2015 and Brown 2002 provide detailed accounts of the British campaigns in the southern states and Gulf. Turner 1999 and Latimer 2007 are examples of British perspectives. Skelton 1994 is an influential study of how the experiences of the War of 1812 shaped the postwar American officer corps.

  • Brown, Wilburt. Amphibious Campaign for West Florida and Louisiana: A Critical Review of Strategy and Tactics and New Orleans. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2002.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Highly detailed analysis and operational narrative of the British campaigns in the Gulf that culminated in the Battle of New Orleans.

    Find this resource:

  • Elting, John R. Amateurs, To Arms! A Military History of the War of 1812. Chapel Hill: Algonquin, 1991.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Describes the operational history of the conflict in North America from a predominately US perspective, highlighting the amateurish incompetency of US forces and their leaders as well as their steep learning curve.

    Find this resource:

  • Ferguson, Gillum. Illinois in the War of 1812. Urbana: University of Illinois University Press, 2012.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Less a comprehensive history of Illinois in the conflict and more a narrative of its military aspects that transpired in Illinois, the book provides an excellent, detailed description of the series of multiracial and ethnic wars that erupted in the borderlands under the umbrella of the War of 1812.

    Find this resource:

  • Latimer, Jon. 1812: War with America. Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 2007.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Highly detailed and impressive account that focuses on the military strategies, operations, and command of the war. While the title suggests a British perspective, the book is balanced in its examination of the conflict with a primary focus on North American operations. Some scholars have publicly challenged the veracity of Latimer’s scholarship; however, as it remains in print from a leading academic press and the author is deceased, and thus unable to defend his work, it is included here so that readers may draw their own conclusions.

    Find this resource:

  • Mahon, John K. The War of 1812. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1972.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Standard military history of the North American aspects of the conflict.

    Find this resource:

  • Neimeyer, Charles. War in the Chesapeake: The British Campaigns to Control the Bay, 1813–1814. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute, 2015.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Detailed narrative of the Chesapeake campaigns.

    Find this resource:

  • Quimby, Robert S. The US Army in the War of 1812: An Operational and Command Study. 2 vols. Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1998.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Comprehensive military history of the war in North America that details the operations, strategy, and management of the armed forces; primarily focused on the US perspective.

    Find this resource:

  • Skelton, William. “High Army Leadership in the Era of the War of 1812: The Making and Remaking of the Officer Corps.” William and Mary Quarterly 3d ser. 51 (1994): 253–274.

    DOI: 10.2307/2946862Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Describes the long-term impact of the War of 1812 in revamping the US Army.

    Find this resource:

  • Turner, Wesley B. British Generals in the War of 1812: High Command in the Canadas. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1999.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explores the war through a series of critical biographical chapters on five British commanders in North America. Highly detailed and balanced in its assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the generals as well as of the American context in which they fought.

    Find this resource:

Naval, Including Impressment

Despite the enormity of the British advantages in the naval war, the unexpected American successes, while strategically limited, garnered the attention, and debate that has lasted to the present day. In fact, the naval dimension of the conflict is perhaps the most contentious element of the historiography of the War of 1812, and this section can only hope to include some of the highlights. From the US perspective, such studies as Budiansky 2012, Daughan 2011, and Toll 2006 have woven these successes into the founding mythology of American nationalism. American privateers as a kind of militia-of-the-sea is a significant part of this narrative and is represented in Garitee 1977. A counter case can be found in Lambert 2012, which generally dismisses the importance of American successes in support of a thesis that the Royal Navy performed well and ultimately led to a British victory in the War of 1812. There is also disagreement over the effectiveness of the British blockade of the American Atlantic coastline, with Dudley 2003 taking the American perspective that it was proved ineffectual and Arthur 2011 asserting that it crippled the US war effort and led directly to British victory. While there is some disagreement over the veracity of the US government’s claims that impressment was the primary cause for continuing the war effort after the summer of 1812, philosophical and practical concerns over the Royal Navy’s claim to seamen aboard American vessels was clearly a source of considerable tension in the decades leading up to 1812. Gilje 2013 examines the issue in the immediate context of the War of 1812; Brunsman 2013 provides a comprehensive examination of the practice both geographically and chronologically.

back to top

Article

Up

Down