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The War of 1812 had several causes:

  • Great Britain's War with France. Despite brief peaceful interludes, Britain and France had been at war for hundreds of years. Now that the United States was independent, both nations wanted to trade with it, and they also wanted to stop the United States from trading the other nation supplies. The United States wanted to trade freely, so they told Britain and France they would stop trading with the opposing power if they ceased to restrict American trade. France complied with this request, so the United States stopped trading with Britain. As you might imagine, this angered the British.
  • Impressment. One of Britain's trade restrictions required neutral nations (such as the United States) trading with France to apply for a license from Great Britain. The British navy stopped any vessel which did not have a license, confiscated its cargo, and forced the sailors to work on the British naval ships (this was called impressment). Clearly, this infuriated the United States.
  • Lingering resentment from the American Revolution. Many British people believed that Britain should have stopped America from winning independence, so they hoped that they could re-conquer their former colonies. Many in the United States, on the other hand, regretted that they had been unable to conquer Canada during the Revolution. They saw another war as an opportunity to expand their territory into the North.
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