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Pennsylvania and the War of 1812

Pennsylvania and the War of 1812

Victor A. Sapio
Copyright Date: 1970
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Pennsylvania and the War of 1812
    Book Description:

    In this study of Pennsylvania and the War of 1812, the author sees the political ambitions of the Republicans, rather than economic, diplomatic or expansionist motives as the primary impetus for the outbreak of the war. Fearful of the Federalists' growing strength, the Republicans exploited the friction with England to maintain their power and to secure the reelection of Madison to the presidency. In this strategy, Victor A. Sapio shows, Pennsylvania played a crucial but hitherto unrecognized part. The strongest Republican state, its politicians influential in their party's stance, Pennsylvania provided the largest number of votes for war, and willingly and consistently supported its prosecution.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6421-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
    V. A. S.
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-5)

    The causes of the War of 1812 have produced a historiographical controversy far out of proportion to the war’s military importance. The major reason for the debate is that the explanations of contemporary historians have proved inconsistent and unsatisfactory.¹ Those who had participated in the war in a military or political capacity generally agreed that the United States went to war to protect its maritime commerce and neutral rights against the predatory policies of Great Britain—policies which not only destroyed United States commerce, but insulted national honor and threatened the country’s international prestige.² Historians, in the late nineteenth century,...

  5. CHAPTER ONE Expansion as a Cause for War
    (pp. 6-24)

    In 1890, Henry Adams suggested in hisHistory of the United States, that the traditional maritime interpretations of the War of 1812 did not adequately explain the causes of that conflict. By 1902 the maritime interpretation had been sufficiently challenged to enable Woodrow Wilson to assert that the grounds for war were singularly uncertain. This uncertainty led students to an intensive, and as yet incomplete search for new and different explanations.¹

    Aware of the fact that most support for the war came from the West and the South, historians attempted to ascertain the factors which prompted these areas to favor...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Economic Depression as a Cause for War
    (pp. 25-44)

    Julius Pratt’s analysis of the factors which prompted the West and the South to support the War of 1812 left so many questions unanswered and created so many new problems that new approaches had to be found. The revisionist interpretation concentrated more on economic than political factors.

    George R. Taylor broke new ground in two articles describing economic conditions on the frontier. He concluded that “western agriculture suffered … a severe economic depression in the years just before the war, and this depression was an important factor in determining the support which the frontier gave first to the embargo and...

  7. CHAPTER THREE The Nation’s Honor and the Party’s Welfare
    (pp. 45-80)

    Bradford Perkins, Roger Brown, Reginald Horsman, and Norman Risjord contend that the sectional and economic interpretations of the causes of the War of 1812 associated with Julius Pratt and George Taylor contain unproved assertions and irreconcilable internal inconsistencies. However accurately these theories might explain the motives of the West or the South, most recent historians assert that they cannot be extended to explain the sizable war vote of the Middle Atlantic states. In an effort to explain why the nation as a whole went to war, rather than any particular section, recent historians have sought a broad, unifying factor, which...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Pennsylvania and Economic Coercion
    (pp. 81-127)

    The military stalemate in the Anglo-French war prompted each nation to enact measures aimed at destroying the other’s economy. The effect of the British orders-in-council and the French decrees was to make most American trade subject to confiscation by one or the other belligerent. The initial response of the American government was to protest the violations of American neutral rights and to appeal to both governments to modify their commercial legislation.¹

    Diplomatic efforts proved unavailing. When British violations of American rights increased substantially in the spring and summer of 1806, the American government was ready to consider more direct measures...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Party Solidarity as a Motive for War
    (pp. 128-166)

    The policy of commercial coercion, whatever its domestic effects, did not achieve the intended result. British and French violations of American neutral rights continued without abatement. Moreover, the changes in the method of commercial coercion were beginning to convince many people that the purposes for which the policy had been initiated had changed. The embargo of 1807 had been proposed as an alternative to war. The people had accepted it as such and defended it on the ground that it was a forceful measure. Macon’s bill No. 2 seemed more a substitute for action, a face-saving device designed to appease...

  10. CHAPTER SIX Pennsylvania at War
    (pp. 167-193)

    During the war Pennsylvania Republicans gave their support to the efforts of the national government. They insisted that the war must be fought to a military conclusion; they cooperated as fully as possible with the national government’s efforts to enlist men; and they contributed generously to the financial support of the war. In justifying continuation of the war after news of the repeal of the orders-in-council and military defeats prompted a demand for an immediate negotiated settlement, Pennsylvanians expressed attitudes quite similar to those which had led them to support the declaration of war.

    The British Parliament repealed the orders-in-council...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 194-198)

    The sixteen votes provided by Pennsylvania for the declaration of war constituted not only the largest vote in favor of war from any delegation in Congress, but the highest percentage of any of the large delegations. This overwhelming support for the declaration of war was not an isolated instance. From 1807 to 1812 Pennsylvania’s Republican congressmen gave equally strong support to the administration’s efforts to substitute economic coercion for war and strongly defended Jefferson’s and then Madison’s foreign policy. The editorials in the state’s Republican press, the resolutions of the state’s General Assembly, the speeches of the governor, and the...

  12. Bibliographical Note
    (pp. 199-200)
  13. Index
    (pp. 201-206)