The War of 1812

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the War of 1812, the conflict between America and the British Empire sometimes referred to as the second American War of Independence. In June 1812, President James Madison declared war on Britain, angered by the restrictions Britain had imposed on American trade, the Royal Navy’s capture of American sailors and British support for Native Americans. After three years of largely inconclusive fighting, the conflict finally came to an end with the Treaty of Ghent which, among other things, helped to hasten the abolition of the global slave trade.

Although the War of 1812 is often overlooked, historians say it had a profound effect on the USA and Canada’s sense of national identity, confirming the USA as an independent country. America’s national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner began life as a poem written after its author, Francis Scott Key, witnessed the British bombardment of Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore. The war also led to Native Americans losing hundreds of thousands of acres of land in a programme of forced removal.

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  • Kathleen Burk 11 episodes
    Professor of Modern and Contemporary History at University College London
  • Lawrence Goldman 10 episodes
    Fellow in Modern History at St Peter's College, University of Oxford
  • Frank Cogliano 5 episodes
    Professor of American History at the University of Edinburgh

Reading list

  • The War of 1812
    Carl Benn (Osprey, 2002) Google Books →
  • A Narrative of the Campaigns of the British Army: at Washington, Baltimore, and New Orleans by an officer
    George Robert Gleig (John Murray, 1821) Google Books →
  • The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict
    Donald R. Hickey (University of Illinois Press, 1989) Google Books →
  • The Causes of the War of 1812
    Reginald Horsman (Various publishers, 1962) Google Books →
  • The Diplomacy of the New Republic, 1776-1815
    Reginald Horsman (Harlan Davidson, 1985) Google Books →
  • Entangling Alliances with None: American Foreign Policy in the Age of Jefferson
    Lawrence Kaplan (Kent State University Press, 1987) Google Books →
  • The Challenge: Britain Against America in the Naval War of 1812
    Andrew Lambert (Faber and Faber, 2012) Google Books →
  • 1812: War with America
    Jon Latimer (Harvard University Press, 2007) Google Books →
  • The Creation of a Republican Empire, 1776-1865
    Bradford Perkins (Cambridge University Press, 1993) Google Books →
  • Revolutionary Negotiations: Indians, Empires, and Diplomats in the Founding of America
    Leonard Sadosky (University of Virginia Press, 2009) Google Books →
  • The War of 1812: Conflict for a Continent
    J. C. A. Stagg (Cambridge University Press, 2012) Google Books →
  • The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels and Indian Allies
    Alan Taylor (Knopf, 2010) Google Books →

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Programme ID: b01q95s0

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Auto-category: 973 (History of North America)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. In 1814, a 35-year-old American lawyer, Francis Scott Key, wrote a poem which he called Defense of Fort McHenry.