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 on December 24 and signed the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the war and restored previously recognized boundaries between the United States and British territory in North America. 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 for links available through the Library of Congress Web sites, external Web sites, and a selected bibliography on the war.
- Primary Documents in American History: The Treaty of Ghent links to the text of the treaty, related American Memory collections, Library of Congress exhibitions, and more relating to the War of 1812.
- 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.
- See the section, The War of 1812, in the online exhibition, American Treasures of the Library of Congress.
- Search on war in The James Madison Papers, 1723-1836 to see letters and other documents related to the War of 1812.
- Search on Madison war 1812 in A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875 to see President James Madison’s nominations for military appointments.
- View the Today in History feature on James Madison for more information on the fourth president.
- See the Today in History feature for September 13 concerning Francis Scott Key. Key wrote the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner” as he witnessed the Battle of Fort McHenry during the British assault on Baltimore.
- Volume 15 and Volume 16 of the American Memory collection Pioneering the Upper Midwest: Books from Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, ca. 1820-1910 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.
- California Gold: Northern California Folk Music from the Thirties Collected by Sidney Robertson Cowell includes a recording of “James Bird,” a ballad that tells the story of a soldier who distinguished himself for bravery at the Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812 but later was shot as a deserter.