The War of 1812
The War of 1812
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The American invasion over the Niagara at Queenston, October 1812. (National Archives of Canada, C-23304)
The United States, enraged by Great Britain's attitude, and determined to seize aboriginal land that was impeding their westward expansion, declared war on Great Britain and attacked its colony: Canada.

Historical context
At the turn of the 19th century, Europe became a vast battlefield with the eruption of the Napoleonic wars. These events had a direct impact on British North America and on the United States, which had recently become independent after the American Revolution. Both latter parties were victims of measures imposed by France and Great Britain to win the war, including a blockade to prevent American trade.

Summary of the Conflict
On June 18, 1812, American President James Madison declared war on Great Britain. Lacking naval power, the Americans tried to take Upper and Lower Canada. The Canadian Governor General, Georges Prevost had few means to defend the colonies; nor could he rely on the loyalty of their inhabitants, which was far from assured. Nevertheless, the British had good officers, such as Major Isaac Brock. They could also count on an Native alliance led by Tecumseh, who was seeking to create a grand alliance of Native Nations. Certain individuals stood out in this conflict, such as Isaac Brock and Laura Secord for the English side and Charles-Michel de Salaberry for the French. This war created a number of symbols and had a profound impact on all parties. Some writers attribute the British victory of 1812 to the efficiency of the militia and to the union of French and English against a common enemy. It also enabled Canada to affirm the loyalty of its inhabitants to Great Britain. For the Americans, it was a second American Revolution. The real losers in this conflict were the Native peoples, who lost their independence as a result of American expansion.

Concepts
American Revolution
War fought by the 13 American colonies, from 1775 to 1783, against Great Britain in a bid for independence. One of the causes of this war was The Quebec Act of 1774 granting the Province of Quebec the Ohio Valley.

Napoleonic wars
Series of wars, between 1799 and 1815, between France, led by Napoleon, and other European countries, including Great Britain. These wars prompted France to organize a continental blockade and Great Britain to set up its own naval blockade.

Blockade
Series of measures implemented to prevent a country from having regular trade relations with other countries. While such a measure threatened the economies of target countries (France and Great Britain), it also threatened the economies of other countries, such as the United States, who were trading with France and Great Britain.

British North America
Group of British colonies in North America. In 1812 they were Upper Canada, Lower Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island and Cape Breton.

Grand alliance of Native Nations
The British wanted the creation of a buffer State south of the Great Lakes, between Canada and the United States. For their part, some Native nations wanted to put an end to internal divisions and acquire the means to resist American expansion and the schemes of the British.

American expansion
American colonization westward (18th century). Great Britain tried to suppress the move by proclaiming The Quebec Act in 1774. After the American Revolution (1775-1783), the Americans continued their expansion westward. In so doing, they had to confront the Natives as well as the British, who wanted to create an Indian State.

Upper Canada
The area of Canada that is now Ontario. During the War of 1812, Upper Canada was populated mainly by American immigrants of dubious loyalty. The war strengthened the inhabitants' loyalty to Great Britain.

Militia
Military unit made up of temporarily drafted Canadians. These were not professional soldiers, unlike the British army. During the War of 1812, they were mainly assigned to transportation tasks and labour. Most battles were fought by British soldiers and Native allies.

Lower Canada
Area of Canada that is now Quebec, populated by descendants of the French. During the War of 1812, its loyalty was unsure, but in the end the population supported the British authorities against the American invasion.

Second American Revolution
From the start, the American States were divided on the idea of the United States waging a war against Canada and Great Britain. At one point it even seemed possible that the northeastern States, which didn't want war, would separate from the United States entirely. In the end, the war unified the United States and enabled them to made a stand against Europe and Great Britain.