The War of 1812: Opposing Voices

American desire for war in 1812 was based around two slightly connected concepts.

First was the issue of the British impressment of US sailors into their own Navy and attacks against US shipping. Second was the increasing violence and conflict between western settlers and Native Americans in the West. This conflict was, in the minds of many Americans, fueled by British money and weapons given to the Natives.

The war was not popular among all Americans. In fact, the Congressional vote to declare war was very close (79 to 49 in the House of Representatives, 19 to 13 in the Senate) and no member of the Federalist party voted in favor of the war, making it a very politically divisive issue.

Henry Clay speaks in Favor of the War
Samuel Taggart speaks against the War

Questions for consideration:

  1. Britain was one of the most powerful nations on Earth in 1812. Why does Henry Clay think war with them is a good idea? Is the US prepared for such a war?
  2. What are Taggart’s objections to the War? Cite three specific examples.