The War of 1812

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How did the War of 1812 affect American industry?

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The War of 1812 (and the war in Europe more broadly) had the effect of promoting domestic manufacturing in the United States. During the war, the British Navy blockaded much of the American coast. As had been the case during the embargo implemented under the Jefferson administration in 1806, this was potentially devastating for New England merchants, a fact that explains their strident opposition to the war. It also led to a dearth of British cotton cloth. Some New England businessmen decided to employ their capital in domestic manufacturing, and the result was massive investment in the cotton mills that began the Industrial Revolution in the United States.

In addition, the war created a sense of nationalism unlike anything that had previously existed. This provided the context for a series of measures by Congress and the state legislatures that were intended to promote the domestic economy. Politicians like James Madison, John C. Calhoun, and Henry Clay promoted the establishment of an "American System" that included a high protective tariff, investment in infrastructure, and the chartering of a national bank. This program was a reaction to what many Americans saw as a need for economic independence from Britain and Europe as a whole and was a direct effect of the War of 1812. So overall, the War of 1812 promoted the growth of industry and manufacturing in the United States.

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In can be said that the American War of 1812 with Great Britain accelerated the pace of industrialization, particularly in the north. Before the conflict, Americans depended on manufactured goods, especially clothing, from Britain and France. The Embargo Act, passed by Thomas Jefferson as an alternative to war, challenged Americans to become self-sufficient in manufacturing. While the Embargo Act was repealed before the war started, the British blockade pinched imports from reaching America's shores. This forced Americans to produce their own goods if they hoped to survive.

While the Embargo Act and War of 1812 forced Americans to produce their own goods, it did challenge manufacturers of New England in that they lost markets for their goods overseas. This hurdle was offset by the fact that domestic goods did not have a competitor in the American market. Manufacturers did not have to worry about being undercut by British goods during the war. The war also brought a sense of unity in the United States that did not exist prior. This sense of unity encouraged Americans to purchase domestic goods and aided in the creation of the Second Bank of the United States.

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