The Treaty of ParisThe rules for American wars are painfully simple. They work politically and practically when the American people believe that

1. the country is responding to a direct attack,

2. the citizens, not the government decide who will do the fighting and

3. Americans have actual allies who are willing to fight and die for their own liberties.

Two of the three conditions need to be satisfied; otherwise, the war is a loser.

Since the truth is always the first casualty in war, the facts can be manipulated. (To this day most of the people who lived through WWII think the Army's high level bombers sank the Japanese carriers at Midway; that was what the Chicago Tribune and other newspapers reported.) But the lies can only last so long; if two of conditions (1), (2) and (3) are not, in fact, true, then the American people will catch on fairly soon– usually within 1 Presidential election cycle– and they will not continue to support the fight.

In the Revolutionary War, all three conditions were true: the colonists regarded the British occupation of Boston to be a vicious attack, the American Army was staffed entirely by volunteers, and people from throughout Europe (von Steuben, Lafayette being the most famous) who came to fight with the new Americans. The War of 1812 was a muddle. The New Englanders saw no direct attack nor did they see America's former allies coming to our aid. Even though they were themselves at war with the British, the French (and the Spanish and Dutch, who were both under Napoleon's thumb) had no interest in helping us and were, in fact, waiting for us to fail. (Napoleon agreed to the Louisiana purchase precisely because he expected to be able to retake the Mississippi territory after he dispensed with the British.) But, for the people on the frontier– from Ohio to Alabama to Louisiana, the War of 1812 looked very different; the British had failed to live up to the Treaty of Paris and were continuing to use their Indian allies to dominate the fur trade and prevent Americans from moving over the Alleghenies; and the French and Spanish colonists (as opposed to their European governments) shared the Americans' fears of and anger towards the Indians.

So, the War of 1812 in the North and on the seas was a complete bust; the people who later became Canadians won all the battles, the French in Quebec failed– once again=- to rise up and join the American invaders, and Jefferson's gift to Madison– the coastal Navy– was such a pitiful failure that the Brits were able to sail into Chesapeake Bay and burn Washington. In the South, on the other hand, the war was a triumph; all three conditions were met. As a result, the United States gained control of Florida and Jefferson's magnificent purchase and found its second military hero President - Andrew Jackson.


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