America doesn’t talk much about the War of 1812. In the historical narrative that the U.S. likes to construct for itself, its first official, declared war might as well not exist. The war’s been ignored for a variety of reasons (we’ll get to why later) but in this episode we’re going to examine surface causes for the war. Conventional narratives about the war of 1812 point the finger at British impressment of American sailors in the early 1800s, and policies like the Orders in Council that restricted American trade with France. High-profile naval conflicts like the Chesapeake-Leopard Affair and the Little Belt Affair, in which American and British ships exchanged fire over the Royal Navy’s right to conscript sailors, inflamed American political passions against Britain. However, these were only surface causes. Next episode, we’ll dive into deep reasons for America’s conflict with Britain in 1812.
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