The Louisiana Purchase Treaty is signed. Originally authorized to offer $10 million for the Port of Orleans and Western Florida, American negotiators Robert Livingston and James Monroe were astounded when the French countered with an offer to part with all of France's territories on the North American continent for an additional $5 million.
The final $15 million cash transaction doubles the size of the United States and includes all or part of 15 current states.
(Ongoing) Recruiting Native Tribes as Fighting Allies
Initially responding to a militant separatist movement in the French-speaking regions of Canada, the British convince Native tribes (i.e. Ottowa, Lenape/Delaware, Wyandot, Sauk, Potaawatoni, Shawnee, and Chippewa), to serve as fighters alongside British troops by signing treaties offering them the promise of future autonomy in their historically contiguous lands.
Under the Louisiana Purchase, many of the promised tribal areas become part of the United States, and these Natives now largely view Americans as their enemies.
(Ongoing) British Blockade France
Fighting against Napoleon in Europe, the British Blockade of France dramatically increases the confiscation of American ships and sailors.
(July 23)TheEssex Case
A British admiralty court determines that American ships are no longer neutral if they carry any cargo or passengers going to or from France and Spain. Over a nine-year period, the British confiscate 1,000 American ships and impress (conscript) 10,000 American men to serve in the British navy.
(June 22)The Chesapeake Affair
The HMS Leopard fires upon the USS Chesapeake after Captain James Barron follows newly implemented American Naval orders and refuses to allow the British to board and search for deserters. Cannon fire from the Leopard kills three and wounds 18 American sailors, and the British take four men away in irons. (Three are later determined to be Americans.)
(December 22)The Embargo Act of 1807
In response to the Chesapeake Affair, President Thomas Jefferson orders all British ships out of American waters; Congress follows with an economic embargo intended to halt imports from Great Britain.
By simply offloading to coastal vessels or bringing goods through Canada, the embargo is easily avoided.
(November 2) James Madison elected
After campaigning on a Republican platform encouraging a smaller federal government, Virginia's James Madison handily defeats his Federalist opponent, Charles Pinkney, becoming the fourth president of the United States.
(September) Treaty of Fort Wayne
Despite lacking presidential authority, Indiana Territorial Governor William Henry Harrison negotiates a treaty with local Native American tribes. After consuming large quantities of celebratory liquor and accepting cash-filled leather pouches, Miami tribal leaders cede over three million acres of land to the United States.
In 1840, Harrison uses his status as a "war hero" to become the nation's ninth President. He dies from pneumonia 31 days after assuming office.
(March–May) Tecumseh's Confederacy
Alarmed by the native lands lost in the Treaty of Fort Wayne, Shawnee Chief Tecumseh forms a confederacy with Red Stick/Creek, Canadian Iroquois, Chickamauga, Ojibwa, and Winnebago tribes and warns Governor Harrison that several thousand of his followers will side with the British should war break out.
(April–December)Great Comet of 1811
Visible for over 200 nights, a magnificently bright comet is claimed by Tecumseh (whose name means "shooting star") as a sign that he is anointed to lead his confederation of tribes.
(November 7)Battle of Tippecanoe
While Tecumseh is rallying southern tribes, his twin brother, Tenskwatawa, ("The Prophet") has a dream that Americans will attack his village. Sending his warriors toward Tippecanoe, they encounter the Indiana militia that Governor Harrison launched on a preemptive strike against the natives. The tribes are defeated, and the survivors strip Tenskwatawa of all his power and authority.
THE WAR OF 1812 ERUPTS (1812)
(June 19)Mr. Madison's War
Interpreting the increasing numbers of American ships and men being commandeered by the British as an attack on American sovereignty, the House and Senate quickly pass a War Bill. With President Madison's signature, war is declared against Great Britain, and couriers are dispatched from Washington to alert the states and territories. Partly because most of the soldiers came from the ranks of volunteer state militias, and were paid by each state, violent opposition to the War of 1812 was stronger than that against the Vietnam War 150 years later.
The streets of Baltimore are the battleground for numerous riots and sometimes deadly anti-war rallies. In one incident, Republican supporters sack and burn the offices of a Federalist newspaper, and in another, several bystanders are beaten to death, including Revolutionary War hero "Light Horse" Harry Lee.
(June 23)USS President vs. HMS Belvidera
Unaware that war has been declared, the crew of British vessel HMS Belvidera is surprised when the USS President opens fire on them. The British ship appears wounded and craftily leads the Americans away from a Jamaican-bound convoy of merchant ships. That night, the Belvidera'screw makes repairs and safely sails away.
(July 1)U.S. Doubles Custom Duties to Pay for War
President Madison, who had long believed in a very limited federal government, begins to argue that a well-funded, well-equipped, well-trained, professional U.S. Army and Navy are essential for America's continued security and prosperity.
(July 12)Hull Invades Canada
U.S. General William Hull's Fort Detroit-based forces invade Upper Canada at Sandwich (now Windsor, Ontario) and are quickly repulsed.
(July 16–17)Siege onMackinac Island
Aided by 400 Native warriors, British Captain Charles Roberts' 45 troops from Fort St. Joseph set up cannon under cover of darkness and take aim at the 61 American soldiers stationed at Michigan's Mackinac Island. Unaware that war has been declared, acting commander U.S. Lieutenant Porter Hanks quickly surrenders. Roberts paroles the Americans back to their homes with the promise they will stay out of the war and be available for a future "exchange for captured British soldiers."
(August 5)Battle of Brownstown
While crossing a creek, Major Thomas Van Horne's 200 American soldiers are attacked by Tecumseh and two-dozen Native warriors in Michigan. The Americans panic; 18 are killed, 12 are wounded, and 70 flee into the woods and do not return. Only one Native is killed.
(August 8)Battle of Manguaga (Michigan)
U.S. General Hull sends Lt. Colonel James Miller and a detachment of almost 600 Americans to guard a supply train traveling to Fort Detroit. Attacked en route by British Captain Henry Muir's 150 British troops and 70 Natives, the battle becomes confused. With British firing on Native reinforcements, a bugle call to advance is interpreted as a retreat by soldiers used to receiving drumbeat orders. Six are killed on the British side, and 18 Americans die. Both sides report the battle as a victory.
(August 15)Fort Dearborn Massacre
Bolstered by recent victories, Native soldiers begin to gather around several American forts. U.S. General Hull orders Captain Nathan Heald's garrison of 50 Americans at Michigan's Fort Dearborn to return to the safety of the much stronger Fort Detroit. Natives from Canada ambush the column and quickly kill half the soldiers and many local settler families who had joined the march. Survivors struggle back to Fort Dearborn where almost all of the men, women, and children are killed and their bodies stripped and mutilated.
(August 16)Siege ofFort Detroit
British Major General Issac Brock's army and Tecumsah's native warriors capture Fort Detroit from the Americans partly because Tecumseh's troops use psychological warfare to form the impression of a much larger army. U.S. General William Hull reportedly characterizes the Natives as "worse than Vikings or Huns."
(August 19)"Old Ironsides"
The USS Constitution earned the nickname "Old Ironsides" in a fight against the British frigate HMS Guerriere. Withstanding numerous barrages from the enemy, the Constitution holds fire until only 25 yards (23 m) away from the other ship. After the Guerriere is rammed and her mainmast collapses, the British surrender.
(September 3–6)Native American Troops Attack Indiana
Native warriors continue to invoke fear and terror among Americans by killing and scalping the villagers at Pigeon Roost, including 15 children. The same band of warriors launches coordinated sieges against the fortifications at Fort Harrison, Fort Madison, and Fort Wayne. When Zachary Taylor successfully defends against the heavy enemy assault at Fort Wayne, he becomes the first American hero in the war. In 1848, Taylor is elected president after a campaign that largely focuses on his battlefield success.
(September)Natives Force Indiana Legislature to Move
Reacting to "the threatened depredations of the Indians who may destroy our valuable records," the Indiana Territorial Legislature votes to relocate the territorial capital to Vincennes.
(September 16–21)Skirmishes on the St. Lawrence
After failing in their attempt to capture a boat convoy off Toussiant Island, the Americans attack and capture the village of Gananoque in the Thousand Islands area of the St. Lawrence River.
(October 13)Battle of Queenston Heights (Ontario)
The first major battle of the War of 1812 pits U.S. Major General Stephen Van Rensselaer's 6,100 members of the Regular Army and New York State militia against British Major General Isaac Brock's 1,200 Regulars, along with Upper Canadian militia assisted by 300 Mohawk warriors. After General Brock succumbs to battle wounds, Major General Roger Sheaffe arrives with reinforcements and takes command. Despite a white flag being waved, Natives shoot and kill the first two American officers who step forward in surrender.
(November to December) Royal Navy Blockade Begins
To disrupt American shipping and keep U.S. warships trapped in port, the British Royal Navy establishes a blockade in South Carolina and extends it to cover the Chesapeake Bay.
THE WAR INTENSIFIES (1813)
(January 19–23) River Raisin (Michigan) Massacre
Leading a column of troops intent on recapturing Fort Detroit, U.S. General James Winchester chases away a small band of British troops and Native warriors along the River Raisin and sets up camp. A few days later, British Colonel Henry Proctor and Tecumseh arrive with over 1,000 men, surprising the Americans, who hastily retreat. Nearly 1,000 Americans were killed, wounded, or captured. When the British leave 68 of the wounded to be guarded by Native warriors, the unarmed Americans (most of them Kentucky militiamen) are killed and scalped.
(February 22) Prisoners Released and Taken
U.S. Captain Benjamin Forsythe marches his rifle regiment 23 miles across the Canadian border to Brockville on a late-night raid to release American prisoners held in a British jail. Almost as an afterthought, Forsyth takes several prominent Canadian citizens back to the garrison in Ogdensburg, New York.
(February 22)British Capture Ogdensburg (New York)
In retaliation for American raids along the St. Lawrence, British Lt. Colonel "Red George" MacDonnell marches his troops into parade formation on the frozen river across from Ogdensburg, New York. To the Americans' surprise, the "parade" turns into an attack, killing six and capturing the remaining 50 members of Forsythe's rifle regiment.
(March 30) British Naval Blockade Expanded
Using 85 warships, the British Navy effectively blockades all U.S ports from Long Island to Mississippi.
(April 15)U.S. Army Occupies West Florida
Western Florida is governed by Spain but is used by the British as a safe harbor. Fighting Red Stick/Creek Natives, U.S. forces invade and occupy the Florida panhandle.
(April 27–30)York Burned
U.S. Commodore Isaac Chauncey outfits lake fighting schooners to transport and support General Zebulon Pike's infantry and artillery in an attack on York, the capital of Upper Canada (now Toronto, Ontario). Unmonitored American troops plunder the town and set fire to the buildings of the Legislative Assembly. Later, Chauncey apologetically returns books stolen from the city's Library.
(May 25–27)Capture of Fort George (Ontario)
U.S. Naval Lieutenant Commander Oliver Hazard Perry's 12 gunboats pair with Colonel Winfield Scott's 5,000 infantrymen to first bombard and then capture Fort George on Lake Ontario. The surviving British troops (including Captain Runchey's Company of Coloured Men, which counts many former slaves among its ranks) join General John Vincent's orderly retreat toward Burlington, Vermont.
(June 1)USS Chesapeake Captured
HMS Shannon defeats USS Chesapeake and tows her captive into Halifax, Nova Scotia.
(September 10) Battle of Lake Erie
Master Commandant Oliver Hazard Perry captures all five ships and the complete squadron of sailors of British Commander Robert H. Barcley's fleet and sends the famous message, "We have met the enemy, and they are ours."
(October 5)Tecumseh Killed in Battle of Thames
U.S. General William Henry Harrison leads a force of over 3,700 men to a decisive victory against British Major Henry Proctor's 800-man army and Tecumseh's 500 Native warriors at Moraviantown, Ontario. Colonel Richard Johnson and a group of 20 horsemen follow Techumsah's Natives into a swampy area where the horses get bogged down. Rifles fire, and 15 soldiers are killed, Johnson is hit five times, and Tecumseh is found dead. Who killed the Native leader is still uncertain, but his coalition of Native tribes quickly dissolves.
(November 3)Battle of Tallushatchee
General Andrew Jackson sends his close friend, General John Coffee, and a thousand dragoons to encircle and attack a Red Stick/Creek village. Drawing out the warriors, the cavalry attacks while marksmen fire to kill. Frontier legend Davy Crockett is there, later recalling, "we shot 'em down like dogs." In 1828, Jackson becomes president after defeating incumbent John Quincy Adams in a grueling campaign featuring personal attacks from both sides.
(November 9)Battle of Talladega
Responding to a request for protection from the friendly Creeks living near what is now Talladega, Alabama, General Andrew Jackson's Tennessee militia attacks and kills 410 of 700 Red Stick/Creek warriors.
(December 10–31)Battles Around Niagara Falls
The U.S. army abandons Fort George and burns the town of Newark (now Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario). In retaliation, the British capture Fort Niagara in a night attack and then march down the American side of the Niagara River, burning Lewiston and the surrounding villages. Eventually laying waste to the entire East Niagara River, they finish with the cities of Black Rock and Buffalo. Of 336 buildings in the region, only three are left standing.
THE DECISIVE BATTLES AND AFTERMATH (1814–1818)
(January 22–March 27)Battles NearHorseshoe Bend (Arkansas)
After indecisive skirmishes against the Red Stick/Creeks at Emuckfaw and Enotachopo, Andrew Jackson's Tennessee Militia and friendly Lower Creek, Choctaw, and Cherokee Natives join forces for the decisive Battle of Horseshoe Bend. Almost 850 Red Stick/Creek are killed, while American forces' death toll stands at 70.
(April 14)U.S. Repeals Embargo Act
Acting under increased political pressure, President James Monroe repeals the embargo and non-importation laws.
(May 6)British Capture Oswego
Before U.S. Commodore Chauncey has time to complete construction of two heavily armed naval frigates, British Commodore James Lucas Yeo captures Fort Oswego from the Americans.
(May 30)British Blockade Complete
The Royal Navy Blockade now covers the entire U.S. coastline, but the expense of maintaining the fleet forces Britain to raise taxes at home.
(July 13)U.S. Capture Fort Erie
Unsuccessful in earlier attempts, American forces finally capture Fort Erie. Under command of U.S. General Jacob Brown, the Americans take the fort without loss of life on either side.
(July 5)Battle of Chippewa
U.S. General Winfield Scotts' army handily defeats troops under command of British General Phineas Riall.
(July 18)Burning of St. Davids
After a small party of U.S. militia under Colonel Isaac Stone loot and burn the small village of St. Davids, U.S. General Jacob Brown expels Stone from the service for "this cruel action."
(July 25)Battle of Lundy's Lane
U.S. generals Jacob Brown and Winfield Scott face familiar enemies when British generals Gordon Drummond and Phineas Riall use artillery against the attacking Americans. After heavy casualties are taken on both sides, U.S. Lt. Colonel James Miller is ordered to take the British guns, to which he famously says: "I'll try, sir." In the end, both sides claim victory.
(August)U.S. Treasury Bankrupt
Congress refuses to impose taxes, and the war's expenses are being paid by floating bonds (borrowing money). Since the majority of these bonds remain unsold, the government begins paying for goods and services in specie (script), redeemable at some unspecified future date. When Alexander Dallas is appointed treasury secretary in the summer of 1814, he creates the Second Bank of the United States to regulate banknote circulation, as well as a controversial "Department of Internal Revenue" for the express purpose of raising taxes to pay the war debt.
(August 9)Treaty of Fort Jackson
After the decisive defeat at Horseshow Bend, representatives from the Creek Nation sign a treaty at Fort Jackson, which cedes 23 million acres (9.3 million hectares) of territory in Alabama and Georgia to the U.S. government.
(August 13–September 21)British Siege at Fort Erie
British Lt. Colonel Drummond captures the artillery of Fort Erie's northeast bastion, shouting the famous line, "Give no quarter to the damn Yankees." Holding their ground at the parade square, the Americans return fire and Drummond is killed. When a powder magazine under the captured artillery guns accidentally explodes, between 150 and 250 British fighters are blown to pieces. Despite these losses, the British siege is successful.
(August 24–25)British Burn Washington, D.C.
President Madison flees the White House after his wife, Dolly, packs up and saves important papers, historic silver services, and Gilbert Stuart's full-length portrait of George Washington. Before torching the presidential residence, the British soldiers consume the meal Dolly Madison planned to serve to 40 guests that evening.
(September 11)Battle of Plattsburgh
The U.S. secures its northern border with a huge victory over the British on Lake Champlain.
(September 13–14)Siege of Fort McHenry
Witnessing the Battle of Baltimore, amateur poet Francis Scott Key is inspired by a tattered American flag visible only because of:
"The rockets red glare,
The bombs bursting in air."
He commemorates the event by writing a poem he calls "Defense at Fort Henry," which later becomes the lyrics of the Star Spangled Banner. On March 3, 1931, the song becomes the official National Anthem.
(December 15)The Hartford Convention
When the U.S. adopts additional internal taxes, the Federalists consider secession of the Northeastern states.
(December 23 - 31) Battle of New Orleans
British General John Keane and 1,800 men camp on the bank of the Mississippi River south of New Orleans. Declaring, "By the eternal, the enemy shall not sleep on out shore," U.S. General Andrew Jackson leads over 2,000 men in a three-pronged attack. Included are many of Jean Lafitte's privateers (pirates), who Jackson promised to pardon in exchange for their excellent fighting skills. The British hold their position for several days while the Americans build defensive earthworks and install artillery batteries.
(December 24)Treaty of Ghent
In what is now Belgium, American and British diplomats agree to return to the pre-war status quo. Since it takes weeks for word to reach North America, the Battle of New Orleans continues unabated.
(January 8 - 18) Battle of New Orleans Continues
The main British Army storms the American entrenchments, but its carefully constructed plan goes wrong when a canal suddenly collapses and turns the battlefield to mud. The British use artillery, rockets, and musket fire against the Americans for 10 days, and two large assaults against Jackson's troops are repulsed. The British withdraw after heavy casualties. All told, 291 British soldiers are dead and 1,267 wounded, compared to the American count of 13 dead and 39 wounded.
(February 17) Treaty of Ghent Ratified
The Treaty of Ghent is officially ratified with President Madison's signature and the War of 1812 comes to an end.
Anglo-American Convention of 1818
This new treaty of 1818 establishes the boundary between British North America and the United States along "a line drawn from the most northwestern point of the Lake of the Woods, [due south, then] along the 49th parallel of north latitude..." to the "Stony Mountains" (called the Rocky Mountains today). The treaty also allows joint occupation of the Columbia District/Oregon Territory, secures fishing rights along Newfoundland and Labrador for the U.S., and sends disputes over "property" (slaves and ships) to "some friendly sovereign or State to be named for that purpose."