What was the relationship between the The American Revolution, Embargo Act, and the War of 1812.

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The American Revolution, the Embargo Act of 1807, and the War of 1812 all share the common theme of the United States protecting its sovereignty from Great Britain.  Additionally, all three form a chain of events that resulted in the recognition of the United States as a viable nation. 

The American Revolution was fought by English colonists seeking to protect their "life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness" from the control of Great Britain.  Taxation without representation and economic free will were at the heart of the conflict.  The Americans were able to win the war and gained recognition as an independent nation, but they were not seen as an international equal by their former colonial oppressors.  This is evident by the treatment of us merchants and sailors during the Napoleonic Wars between Great Britain and France. 

The United States desired to remain neutral, but its economic free will was once again put into jeopardy by Great Britain.  The British tried to keep the United States from trading with France, and surrounded the nation with a blockade.  US ships were forced to pay taxes to the British, had goods confiscated, and even had its personnel forced to serve in the British navy (impressment).  The United States responded with the Embargo Act of 1807 which, in essence, prevented the nation from conducting overseas commerce.  This had a crippling effect on the US economy, which resulted in numerous compromises to lessen the effects of the Act.  The end result was that by 1810 the US was only limiting trade with Great Britain, but Great Britain was still not respecting the rights of American ships at sea. 

The end result of this series of conflicts was a declaration of war against the British in 1812.  Often referred to as the second war for independence, both sides battled to a virtual stalemate. The conflict ended with the Treaty of Ghent signed in 1815.  It returned both nations to prewar conditions, and no further conflict was necessary since the Napoleonic Wars had ended and the British had no need to limit American commerce.


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