Many folks point to the fact that America did not gain any new territory and that it was nothing more than young Americans trying to take advantage of the British absorbed in the Napoleonic Wars.
However, the War of 1812 was not fought in vain, and veterans of the war played a significant role in the development of the American military and navy moving forward.
These are the Five reasons the War of 1812 was important:
1. It Changed America's Foreign Policy
During the first 12 years of America's existence, Alexander Hamilton and the Federalist Party influenced foreign policy.
The Federalists believed that a strong military would keep the young nation out of the entangling alliances in Europe and could protect them from English and French Impressment.
Thomas Jefferson opposed these policies and believed in a more idealistic view that would be adopted. He began dismantling the military, especially the Navy.
Thomas Jefferson's protege, James Madison, took office after him and followed in the same footsteps as Jefferson.
That is until the War of 1812 occurred, the British returned to American soil, and their Navy threatened the United States. Jefferson's gunboats were useless against these powerful frigates, and it became clear that America would need to improve its naval prowess.
After the United States escaped the war, it began to improve its navy. Their Navy would become one of the most powerful navies in the world by the time of the Civil War.
2. Reorganized American Military
The American Military had not seen a significant engagement since the American Revolution.
There had been various Indian wars on the frontier, but nothing that challenged their homeland.
America's failure to defeat the British in Canada, despite Britain's lack of defense, showed poor leadership and terrible infrastructure.
By the end of the War of 1812, America's leadership was elite, and their military was well-disciplined. It showed at the Battle of New Orleans.
3. Destroyed Native Alliances
Throughout the colonial period, the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, and up to the War of 1812, there was only one nation that harassed American advancement, and it was the Native Americans.
The Native American population significantly outnumbered the American population by a large number. However, they were tribal and not united against a common enemy. They spoke different languages and could not end wars with generational enemies.
After he died, so did his influence, and Indian tribes would be picked off one by one as America continued its expansion. Their participation in the wars against the Americans was not forgotten.
They would struggle for existence throughout the rest of American Expansion, and while they were brave in the face of annihilation, in the end, American technology and unity were too much for them to overcome.
4. Gave Birth to New Heroes
The American Revolution gave a generation of heroes that boys grew up hearing about. Men like George Washington, Francis Marion, Daniel Boone, Daniel Morgan, Nathanael Greene, and Benjamin Franklin dominated the narrative.
Each president elected up to the War of 1812 had served in or had a significant connection to the founding of the United States.
The most notable of these men was Andrew Jackson, who would be elected the 7th President and change the course of American policy until the Civil War.
William Henry Harrison would be elected the 9th President and die a month later.
5. Set The Stage for Westward Expansion
The losers of the War of 1812 were not the British nor Americans, but the Native Americans.
They were fragmented, and America was hungry to expand. Soon, the West began to be settled, and new states began to be admitted into the Union. This would eventually put them at odds with Mexico, which would lead to the Mexican War.
The United States upgraded its military and, by the time of the Mexican War, had become a superior military force able to execute complicated campaigns against the Mexicans.