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Collection James Madison Papers, 1723 to 1859

1812 to 1817

Second Term and the War of 1812


  1. 1812

    After four years of commercial warfare and economic depression for American merchants, and no shift in British policy, Madison seeks declaration of war.

    A boxing match, or another bloody nose for John Bull. Print on wove paper: etching with watercolor. William Charles. 1813. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. LC-USZC4-1131
  2. June 1812

    Congress declares war against Great Britain. American forces launch series of invasions into Canada, ending in American surrender of Detroit and Michigan Territory.

  3. November 1812

    Madison, with Elbridge Gerry as vice president, reelected to presidency (November).

  4. 1813

    Madison continues to manage war with Great Britain, but fails to achieve any real strategic goals. American naval forces more successful at such places as Lake Erie and the River Thames in Canada. American land forces capture York (present-day Toronto) and restore stability with victories at Chippewa, Lundy's Lane, and Fort Erie.

  5. August 24, 1814

    Madison and government evacuate Washington when British forces under command of General George Cockburn defeat American forces in and around the city. Capitol building (including Library of Congress), White House, and other public buildings are torched by victorious British troops.

    Capture and burning of Washington by the British, in 1814. Wood engraving. Richard Miller Devens. 1876. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. LC-USZ6-2164
  6. December 1814

    Conflict ends with treaty signed at Ghent, shortly before General Andrew Jackson defeats British army at New Orleans in January 1815.

    The Battle of New Orleans. Photomechanical print: halftone, color. E. Percy Moran. c1910. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. LC-USZC2-3796
  7. 1816

    Madison signs law creating Second Bank of the United States.

  8. March 1817

    Four days before presidential inauguration of James Monroe, Madison vetoes bill providing federal funding of roads and canals on grounds that no Constitutional clause allows for such improvements funded by federal government.

  9. Spring 1817

    Retires from public service and returns to Montpelier.