Discuss the primary causes of the American decision to declare war on Great Britain in 1812.

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pholland14 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The major reason that the United States declared war on Britain in 1812 was that the United States felt disrespected by Britain.  Britain removed American sailors through a practice called impressment.  This was considered a violation of American maritime rights.  American ships were also stopped for having contraband, and American merchants claimed that, as a neutral party, they could trade with whomever they pleased.  The United States also claimed that the presence of British forts on the Great Lakes was a violation of the Treaty of Paris (1783) and that these forts encouraged the Native Americans there to attack American settlements in the region.  There was also a small group in Congress known as the War Hawks who sought to annex Canada while Britain was fighting the Napoleonic War.  While Britain did stop impressing American sailors and ultimately removed the forts, the attempt to annex Canada ended in disaster.