The War of 1812
America wanted Britain to stop capturing American ships and taking American sailors as prisoners. The British sea captains forced the American sailors to work on their ships. This made America mad and was one of the main causes of the War of 1812. On June 1, 1812 President James Madison declared war against Great Britain. Some Americans agreed with the president. Others did not want another war with England because England controlled the seas and New Englanders depended on the seas for their trade.
The people that wanted to go to war were called War Hawks. The War Hawks marched to Canada and thought they could take all the land from Canada. They were wrong. The Americans did not fight well in Canada. Canada did not fall to the Americans.
In 1812 England had more than 1,000 warships. America had only 18 warships. The little American navy surprised everyone when they won some important victories against the big British navy.British soldiers marched on to Washington D.C. They were told to burn the Capital. Then they were sent to burn the Presidentís house. President Madison wasnít home at the time. His wife Dolley was warned about a possible attack. She was a smart first lady. Before she left she took important papers and items of value. She had a valuable portrait of George Washington removed from the wall before she left. The house was burned. After the war the Presidents house was painted white to cover the scorch marks from the fire. That is why everyone started calling it the "White House".
The British soldiers especially hated Baltimore. In 1812 it was the fourth largest city in the United States. Privateers were private sailing ships in Baltimoreís Harbor. These ships had been capturing and sinking British ships and this was what was making Britain very angry.
Baltimore Harbor was guarded by Fort McHenry, which was commanded by Major George Armistead. The Major asked a Baltimore flag maker to make a huge American flag to be flown from the fort. He wanted the flag to be so large that the British would have no trouble seeing it. The flag maker was Mary Pickersgill and her 13-year-old daughter. She and her daughter made a flag with 15 stars and 15 stripes that was 42 feet by 30 feet and cost $405.00 to make.
The Battle in Baltimore Harbor lasted for 25 hours. The cannons on the British ships had a range of two miles. The British Commander, General Robert Ross was killed and the navy and the army became confused. The next morning it became clear that Fort McHenry had survived the attack. The British turned and sailed away.
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