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Consolidating British Rule, The War of 1812

Lower Canada, British North America, global war, Chateauguay, Upper Canada

In 1812 the United States declared war on Britain, which was again fighting a global war against France. Both Britain and France had confiscated U.S. ships that were attempting to trade with the other side. The United States declared war on Britain and invaded Upper Canada.

American leaders expected success rather than a repeat of 1775, because most Upper Canadians had only recently come from the 13 colonies. They were wrong. Britainís professional army, with the support of the colonial militias and indigenous allies led by Tecumseh of the Shawnee, inflicted a series of defeats on the large but ill-trained American invasion forces. In 1812 British general Isaac Brock secured the Canadian frontier at Niagara and captured Detroit.

There was no direct threat to Atlantic Canada because its nearest U.S. neighbors, the New England states, largely opposed the war. In fact, Nova Scotian shipowners enjoyed a bonanza; their vessels went on privateering expeditions, capturing and confiscating American ships. The Americans never effectively threatened Lower Canada. They attempted to capture Montreal in 1813, but the attempts were blocked by British victories at Cryslerís Farm and Chateauguay. However, the 1813 American naval victory at Put-in-Bay on Lake Erie renewed the threat to Upper Canada, whose survival depended on command of the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes. American forces occupied parts of the colony and burned its capital, York (now Toronto), but got little support from the inhabitants.

When the war ended in 1815, the attempted American conquest had been defeated. The war had strengthened anti-American feeling, particularly in Upper Canada, and increased the belief that British North America had a separate destiny.

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