U.S.-British conflict arising from U.S. grievances over oppressive British maritime practices in the Napoleonic Wars. To enforce its blockade of French ports, the British boarded U.S. and other neutral ships to check cargo they suspected was being sent to France and to impress seamen alleged to be British navy deserters. The U.S. reacted by passing legislation such as the Embargo Act (1807); Congress's War Hawks called for expulsion of the British from Canada to ensure frontier security. When the U.S. demanded an end to the interference, Britain refused, and the U.S. declared war on June 18, 1812. Despite early U.S. naval victories, notably the duel between the Constitution and the Guerrière, Britain maintained its blockade of eastern U.S. ports. A British force burned public buildings in Washington, D.C., including the White House, in retaliation for similar U.S. acts in York (Toronto), Can. The war became increasingly unpopular, especially in New England, where a separatist movement originated at the Hartford Convention. On Dec. 24, 1814, both sides signed the Treaty of Ghent, which essentially restored territories captured by each side. Before news of the treaty reached the U.S., its victory in the Battle of New Orleans led it to later proclaim the war a U.S. victory. Seealso Battle of Châteauguay; Chippewa; Thames; Isaac Hull; Francis Scott Key; Oliver Perry.
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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.