The War of 1812 took place for three reasons. First, American trade on the high seas was hindered by the British and their powerful navy. Second, the British navy impressed sailors into their service. And finally, the Americans blamed the British for continual Native American uprisings on the American frontier.
Britain and France were engaged in a very long war between 1793 and 1814—except for one year of peace in 1802. The French armies dominated Europe, but British ships were supreme at sea. Neither side could achieve a decisive victory. The two nations tried to starve each other by blocking their rival's trade with other nations. The US managed to trade with both during the first decade of hostilities. After 1805, however, America's lucrative foreign trade was endangered. Because the British fleet was stronger than the French one, London did more damage to American trade than the French did.
The British also earned American condemnation for their practice of impressment. The British boarded American ships and impressed some sailors into the Royal Navy. The British claimed that these sailors had deserted and that they had a right to seize them.
There was also a group of "war hawks" in the United States. These leaders came from the West and the South, and they blamed the British for Indian uprisings on the frontier. There was an important battle between the Americans and Indians at Tippecanoe in 1811. The "war hawks" played a key role in bringing on the War of 1812.
The War of 1812 (1812–1815) ended in a draw. Napoleon was defeated and exiled in 1815, so trade on the high seas ceased to be an issue. Tecumseh's death in battle in 1813 ended the Indian threat to American frontiersmen.