War Of 1812 Essay Thesis Ideas


For a 10 page primary source driven paper, I'd probably stay away from complicated questions like "who won the war?" unless you have a strong idea of what type of primary sources you would use to prove your case.

I'd probably go with a more straight-forward research question. For instance if you're interested in politics, you could examine the congressional speeches and newspaper articles of the time. It was a highly partisen war, you could discuss the views on both sides or focus on certain leaders like the War Hawks. The same thing if you'd rather do military or social history; pick something specific you know you can find sources for. For instance, find out if your school library has a subscription to an early America newspaper database.

You could look at some of the historiography articles listed in the link below. They'll give you specific ideas about topics that have been argued, point you to which historians argued the point so that you could join in the historical discussion. IF your school doesn't subscribe to the specific journal with the article, you can usually request a photocopy of the article through inter-library loan.

Bibliography of the War of 1812 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Leading up to the War of 1812, France and Britain were at war with each other. Americans did not desire to get involved with the war, but they wanted to continue to trade with these nations, if possible. Unfortunately, relations with Britain continued to suffer as skirmishes broke out with the Indians in the Western territory. When the Indians allied with the British and the British Navy continued to intervene with American vessels, war seemed inevitable. Here are some things you should know for the War of 1812 APUSH questions you should prepare to answer.

What Was the War of 1812?

Fought between the United States and Great Britain, the War of 1812 included battles from Canada to the Western territory and Florida. Outraged with the impressment of American sailors among other things, America wanted to protect their sailors from being forced into joining the British Navy.

By going to war, Americans hoped to:

  • stop impressment of American sailors and the seizing of American trade ships;
  • end battles between Americans and Indians in the Western territory;
  • seize the British holds in Canada and the Northwest; and
  • claim Florida from Spain, one of Great Britain’s allies.
  • When Did It Take Place?

    Although it’s called the War of 1812, tensions grew for many years before that. Finally, Congress officially declared war on Great Britain on June 18, 1812.

    The war ended in December 1814 with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent. However, it took a while for news to spread. Consequently, the Battle of New Orleans took place in January 1815.

    Why Is the War of 1812 Important?

    The War of 1812 is important because it strengthened Americans’ feelings of nationalism. The war created a cohesive union, as they worked together to defeat the enemy.

    It also encouraged economic independence, growth of industry within America, and the creation of a strong national army and navy.

    People to Know

  • Henry Clay- Considered as one of the War Hawks in Congress, Henry Clay spoke about his support for the war. He was also one of the delegates sent to negotiate the terms of the Treaty of Ghent.
  • Andrew Jackson- Andrew Jackson led troops during the War of 1812. He quickly became a war hero after the victory at the Battle of Orleans.
  • Francis Scott Key- During the attack at Fort McHenry, Francis Scott Key penned the “Star Spangled Banner”, which is the American National Anthem.
  • Federalists- Mainly comprised of New England merchants, the Federalists opposed the war. They wanted to trade with Britain. At the Hartford Convention, they talked about seceding from the U.S.
  • James Madison-As the President, James Madison urged Congress to declare war on the British.
  • William Henry Harrison– As the governor of the Indiana Territory, he led troops against the Indian confederacy in the Battle of Tippecanoe.
  • Tecumseh and “The Prophet”- Shawnee tribesmen, Tecumseh and his brother (known as “The Prophet”) worked to unite various tribes against the American settlers. The Prophet lost his following after the Battle of Tippecanoe, and Tecumseh joined the British in the Battle of the Thames and died in battle.
  • Events

  • Embargo Act, December 1807- As war raged between Britain and France, President Thomas Jefferson passed the Embargo Act to stop trade between both nations. This happened after the British Navy fired on the American vessel, the Chesapeake, and seized four sailors. The Embargo Act hurt the American economy since most trade occurred with these two nations.
  • Battle of Tippecanoe, Fall 1811– Governor William Henry Harrison led troops against a confederacy of all the Indian tribes west of the Mississippi. The Americans won, pushing many Indians to seek help from the British.
  • Battle of the Thames, Fall 1813-Americans reclaimed Detroit, and Tecumseh died in battle.
  • Battles at Washington, August 1814- British forces landed in Chesapeake Bay and proceeded to march on Washington. They burned several public buildings, including the Capitol and the White House, on August 24, 1814.
  • Battle at Fort McHenry; September 13, 1814- Fort McHenry, located in Baltimore, withstood 25 hours of bombardment from the British. As the flag remained standing, it inspired Francis Scott Key’s poem.
  • Treaty of Ghent; December 25, 1814- Delegates met in Ghent to discuss the terms for ending the war. Both sides agreed to return land taken during the war and end fighting.
  • Hartford Convention; December 15, 1814 – January 5, 1815-The Federalists met together in Hartford, Connecticut to discuss commerce. They were angry with the war and wanted to secede from the Union. This only angered the rest of the country, eventually dispelling the Federalist Party.
  • Attack on New Orleans; January 8, 1815– Without knowledge of the treaty, British forces attacked New Orleans but lost to Andrew Jackson’s troops.
  • War of 1812 APUSH Practice Questions

    1. Which of the following statements are NOT true about the Battle of New Orleans?
    a. Andrew Jackson led the troops into battle and emerged as a hero.
    b. The British were forced to surrender and ultimately lost the war.
    c. The battle took place after the war had ended.
    d. It was a major win for Americans, creating great feelings of patriotism.

    Answer: C. Although the British were defeated in the Battle of New Orleans, the win did not impact the results of the war. This is especially true since the war ended over a month before the battle occurred.

    2. Why did Americans want to go to war against the British in the War of 1812?
    a. The British were at war with France, who was one of America’s greatest allies.
    b. Americans were angry with the British for firing on their ships and capturing their sailors.
    c. Several British settlements were created on land claimed by Americans along the Western frontier.
    d. The British refused to trade with American merchants, which destroyed the American economy.

    Answer: B. Americans were angry with impressment of American sailors and the firing on American ships when Britain was at war with France.

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