moira_j_moore1: (Default)
‘Why America went to war in 1812’ by Alastair Sweeny, Ottawa Citizen, Monday, June 18, 2012

Either I’m still brain dead from the weekend or this article leaves a few ideas dangling unfinished. The writer has a book out, so maybe he’s hoping to just tantalize us with some bits and lure us into buying the book to get the rest of the details. (Which I’ll be doing, so, good job.)

While reading this post, and possibly the article, keep in mind that England and France hated each other. For ages. Sometimes that dyed-in-the-wool bred-in-the-bone kind of hatred led to questionable decisions.

Pretty much anyone who’s been taught anything about the War of 1812 was given the following two motives for the Americans to invade: The British were impressing American sailors to fight in the Royal Navy, and were arming Native Americans and supporting them in their fight against American expansion. Mr. Sweeny suggests that it’s much more complicated than that.

The writer suggests that the American invasion of Canada was pretty much engineered by Napoleon as part of a larger scope of conflict with Britain that included Russia and Spain. By 1812, France had been in conflict with England for about ten years and they were going broke. Napoleon needed to devastate England, and quickly. His plan was to have the Americans invade Canada while he invaded Russia, a sort of harsh one-two blow that would bring England down.

In 1803, Napoleon had sold Louisiana to the States not only to raise money for France’s war efforts but to help build a new country that would prove a viable enemy to England. To later encourage the Americans to invade Canada, he promised them a part of Spanish Florida and part of the personal property of his brother, the King of Spain.

Of course, the Americans had their own reasons for wanting to invade Canada, such as the impression of their sailors, and the belief that an invasion would open up more territories for slavery and plantations. They felt the timing of the invasion, given that Britain was so caught up with France at the time, would make Canada even easier to take.

Everyone probably already knows that the invasion of Russia was catastrophic for the French. The Americans didn’t experience that level of destruction in Canada, of course, but they lost the battle, and Britain was still standing by the end of the war.

The article mentions that the British Navy had a high demand for hemp for the making of their lines and sails, which needed to be replaced every 18 months or so. Their primary source of hemp was from Russia. That Russia dared to sell it to them so infuriated Napoleon that he decided he must destroy Russia. Or something. Anyway, I’m guessing he thought that eliminating that source of hemp would, I don’t know, cripple the British Navy? I have no doubt, no doubt, that there was stuff going on there that had nothing to do with hemp – please, let there be more – but I have no knowledge of that part of history and this article doesn’t clarify it.

The writer also states that the British Navy was also heavily reliant on spruce and oak from Canada, so maybe Napoleon was thinking that cutting off that resource would considerably weaken Britain as well.
moira_j_moore1: (Default)
This is a Canadian article about the War of 1812 and the fact that both Canadians and Americans (those who know anything about it) think they won. It's called Damn Yankees, so you know the writer's slant on it.

I have to show you this quote because I think it's hilarious:

Donald Hickey of Wayne State College in Nebraska, who stated, “Everybody’s happy with the outcome of the War of 1812 …. Americans are happy because they think they won. Canadians are happier because they know they won. And the British are happiest of all because they’ve forgotten all about it.”
moira_j_moore1: (Default)
I've put up a new post on my history blog. It's about The Last Spike by Pierre Berton, which was about the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway. I picked the book because Berton is considered the God of Canadian History, and the building of the railway was enormously important, but I expected getting through it would be a real hard slog. I mean, ugh, building a railway, how interesting could that be?

It turned out, very. Eccentric people, danger, scams, guns, abuse of political and journalist connections, and racism. Unfortunately, I couldn't do it all justice.

The prose was compelling, aside from some politically incorrect language.
moira_j_moore1: (Default)
I have finally posted my first history report on my history blog. It's about the first battle of the War of 1812. It's here:

It took be a whole lot longer than I expected to put this post together, and the book is really short. Only 220 pages. So I don't know how quickly I'll be able to put up subsequent posts. I'm going to try to aim for a post every two weeks, but that's going to be a huge challenge.


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