How did the Napoleonic Wars Affect the War of 1812?
The Napoleonic Wars devasted Europe for over a decade. England and France had always been enemies, but this time, the long-time enemies fought globally and in Europe. Each of their interactions with America caused some sort of conflict with the other, and since America was not in a position of power, they were often bullied by the two world powers.
However, the Napoleonic Wars directly or even indirectly helped cause the War of 1812:
- Napoleon began his rise to power when John Adams was President of the United States, and what become known as the Napoleonic Wars lasted throughout the term of Thomas Jefferson and into James Madison.
- Napoleon sold America the Louisiana Purchase to help fund an army. This purchase doubled the size of the United States and enabled the expansionist mindset of the Americans. Americans began to push further west, which caused conflict with Native Americans and their British allies.
- Since the British had been at war for many years, they began to run into problems with recruiting enough able-bodied men to fight in the Royal Navy. To remedy this, they began impressing American sailors. Impressment became one of the primary reasons for the War of 1812, and it continued until Napoleon surrendered. When there was peace in Europe, impressment ended.
- The Napoleonic Wars also created a situation where England and France did not want their trade partners trading with the other country. They believed that aiding their enemies through trade was a violation of the agreement. As a result, the British began firing on American merchant vessels on French trade routes.
- The Napoleonic Wars also created an opportunity for the United States. Great Britain was overextended and could not devote much of their military to defend their interests in North America, and invading the United States was out of the question. When James Madison took the floor of Congress and declared war on Great Britain, the English were forced to depend on the Canadian colonists, Native Americans, and a small piece of the British Army to defend the vast land of Canada.
- The Americans were ill-equipped to fight a war, and if England had not been preoccupied with the wars in Europe, then most likely, the war would never have happened. England intended to create an Indian nation to be a buffer between Canada and the United States. However, the Napoleonic Wars and the resources needed to defend their homeland did not allow for that to happen.
- Napoleon also actively recruited the French Canadians to join the ranks of the French and fight with him. Since the French Canadians had a heritage that went beyond the British victory during the French and Indian War, Napoleon thought he may be able to pluck a few men away from the British colony. It did not work, nor did his plans to invade Canada ever become a possibility.
Like any war in the history of the world, the causes behind the war are extensive and usually come with a long list of grievances. The War of 1812 was no different.
The War of 1812 is not studied in Great Britain since, at the time, they were dealing with Napoleon marching on Moscow and facing a real threat to their country. The fighting in America is remembered by the United States citizens, Canadians, and Native Americans since that is whom it affected.
If Napoleon would have been able to breach the borders of England, then English interests around the world would have become expendable, and their armies would have returned to defend their country.
Obviously, this did not happen, but one can see how influential this World War was to the happenings that occurred around the world.