The War of 1812 remains one of America’s least understood wars. Beginning with its rather banal title, most histories dismiss it as simply the growing pains of the early republic.
Yet, this is unfair not only to the men and women who waged the war, but it’s also dangerous if one wants to understand the history of the republic and, specifically, the republicanism that had upheld the country. Certainly, all kinds of oddities linger around it. For example, the war began days before the British issued an apology for its wrongs toward us, and the war, at least at the diplomatic level, ended before the final and decisive Battle of New Orleans. Even defining the war’s causes proves difficult. At some level, it was about trade. At another, it was about violence on the frontier. And, at a third level, it was about pride.