The Causes of the War of 1812

The Causes of the War of 1812

The Causes of the War of 1812

The Causes of the War of 1812

Excerpt

Regency England had a surfeit of foreign news in the summer of 1812. Her mighty adversary, Napoleon, had decided to humble the Tzar, and in the warmth of late June the French host began its triumphal progress into Russia. As the summer passed, England learned of the Corsican's relentless thrust into the heart of that vast country. By September Napoleon commanded Moscow, and seemingly Russia had followed Austria and Prussia into vassalage. It was not until November that England learned that the French invader had been forced to abandon the wasted Russian capital, and was fleeing westward in the snow and ice of a Russian winter. While Napoleon was seeking world dominion in the east, England had essayed modest gains in the Peninsula. The victory at Salamanca in July had allowed Wellington to take Madrid in August, and had brought at least some compensation for the disastrous news from the east. Yet Wellington's small army could not hold its hardwon gains, and by October he was forced to yield the Spanish capital and retreat towards Portugal.

It was at the end of July, as Napoleon advanced in Russia and Wellington in the Peninsula, that the news reached England of the American declaration of war on June 18. Though it came into an England satiated by European events, it carried a surprising impact. For more than a year, while England had been . . .

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