On June 18, 1812, President James Madison signed a declaration of war against Great Britain, marking the beginning of the War of 1812. Frustrated by Britain’s maritime practices and support of Native American resistance to western expansion, the U.S. entered the war with ambitious plans to conquer Canada, a goal that was never realized.
The strength of the British army proved too great for U.S. forces. Both on land and at sea, U.S. troops suffered great losses. In August 1814, British troops entered Washington, D.C., and burned the Capitol and the White House. By December, both the Americans and the British recognized that it was time to end the conflict. Representatives of the two nations met in Belgium and signed the Treaty of Ghent on December 24, 1814, which ended the war and restored previously recognized boundaries between the United States and British territory in North America. The Senate unanimously ratified the Treaty of Ghent on February 16, 1815.
Hiram Cronk, who was thought to have been the last surviving veteran of the War of 1812, died in 1905 at the age of 105. This film shows his funeral procession through Brooklyn, New York, which included a hearse drawn by four black horses, escorted by veterans of the Civil War.
- View A Guide to the War of 1812 to access digital materials related to the War of 1812, including manuscripts, broadsides, pictures, and government documents.
- Primary Documents in American History: The Treaty of Ghent links to the text of the treaty and related digital collections.
- Search across the collections of Photos & Prints on War of 1812 to find images of some of the battles of this conflict. For example, a drawing by George Munger, circa 1814, depicts the U.S. Capitol after its burning by the British.
- Search on war in James Madison Papers, 1723 to 1859 to see letters and other documents related to the War of 1812.
- Search A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875, to find congressional material related to the War of 1812, including debates, laws, journals, documents, and reports.
- Volume 15 and Volume 16 of the series Collections and Researches Made by the Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society can be found in the digital collection Pioneering the Upper Midwest: Books from Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, ca. 1820 to 1910. These two volumes contain correspondence between British officers regarding strategy, Native American affairs, and treaties during the war. These volumes also include some diplomatic correspondence between the British and the Americans.