George Washington's Life Page 2
An Educational Site
20 After the Revolutionary War
The new "Napoleonic Code" was an innovation of the Enlightenment that stood for "liberty", "freedom", and the concept of "we the people".
The British knew that America would supply the French with supplies just as the French did for them during their revolution. The British created a blockade in the Atlantic to make it more difficult for supplies to get to the French. It was an international siege concept upon the seas. American trade to France was almost brought to a halt. The British in one year captured over 1000 American ships due to this blockade. This hurt the American economy enormously and inflamed the resentment again for the English Crown, George III.
The British were causing havoc on the open seas for Americans. They would illegally board American ships and take the American sailors as prisoners, turning them into slaves on the British ships. This practice was called impressment, or removing seamen from U.S. merchant vessels and forcing them to serve on behalf of the British.
This overt action created a fire storm in America. The Americans were so outraged that they declared war on the British and invaded Canada. This became known as the War of 1812.
The War of 1812
The war was fought in three principal theaters. Firstly, at sea, warships and privateers of both sides attacked each other's merchant ships, while the British blockaded the Atlantic coast of the U.S. and mounted large-scale raids in the later stages of the war. Secondly, both land and naval battles were fought on the American–Canadian frontier, which ran along the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence River. Thirdly, the American South and Gulf Coast also saw major land battles in which the American forces defeated Britain's Indian allies and repulsed a British invasion force at New Orleans. Both sides invaded each other's territory, but these invasions were unsuccessful or temporary. At the end of the war, both sides occupied parts of the other's land, but these areas were restored by the Treaty of Ghent.
Tied down in Europe until 1814, the British at first used defensive strategy, repelling multiple American invasions of the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada. However, the Americans gained control over Lake Erie in 1813, seized parts of western Ontario, and ended the prospect of an Indian confederacy and an independent Indian state in the Midwest under British sponsorship. In the Southwest, General Andrew Jackson destroyed the military strength of the Creek nation at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814. With the defeat of Napoleon in 1814 on April 6, the British adopted a more aggressive strategy, sending in three large invasion armies.
The Battle of Bladensburg in August 1814 allowed them to capture and burn Washington, D.C.
American victories in September 1814 and January 1815 repulsed all three British invasions in New York, Baltimore and New Orleans.
In the United States, victories at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815 and in the Battle of Baltimore of 1814 (which inspired the lyrics of the United States national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner") produced a sense of euphoria over a "second war of independence" against Britain.
Peace brought an "Era of Good Feelings" in which partisan animosity nearly vanished. Canada also emerged from the war with a heightened sense of national feeling and solidarity, having repelled multiple American invasions. Battles such as the Battle of Question Heights and the Battle of Crysler's Farm became iconic for English-speaking Canadians.
In Canada, especially Ontario, memory of the war retains national significance, as the invasions were largely perceived by Canadians as an annexation attempt by the United States, seeking to expand its territory. In Canada, numerous ceremonies are scheduled in 2012 to commemorate a Canadian victory.
The war is scarcely remembered in Britain today; as it regarded the conflict as sideshow to the much larger Napoleonic Wars raging in Europe. As such it welcomed an era of peaceful relations and trade with the United States.
Consequently, the British a year later (1814) burned the buildings in Washington DC to get even. The Battles of Fort McHenry and Baltimore were decisive events that ended the conflict. The Star Spangled Banner lyrics, written by Frances Scott Key, were a product of the early morning sighting of the large American flag posted over the fort. The flag signaling to all that could see that the fort had fended off the attack and had stood up to the aggressors.
A storm in the morning was beginning to form which reminded the British of the Hurricane and Tornado that touched down in Washington DC a few days earlier.
This international scene was more stable after the defeat of Napoleon in 1814 at Waterloo. France was the victim of a series of coalitions which aimed to destroy the ideals of the Revolution.
Napoleon was responsible for overthrowing multiple Ancient Régime-type monarchies in Europe and spreading the official values of the French Revolution to other countries.
In particular, Napoleon's French nationalism had the effect of influencing the development of nationalism elsewhere—often inadvertently. German nationalism of Fichte rose to challenge Napoleon's conquest of Germany. Napoleon was also responsible for inventing the green-white-red tricolour basis of the flag of Italy during the period when Napoleon ruled as King of Italy alongside his position as French Emperor.
The Napoleonic Code is a codification of law including civil, family and criminal law that Napoleon imposed on French-conquered territories. After the fall of Napoleon, not only was Napoleonic Code retained by many such countries including the Netherlands, Belgium, parts of Italy and Germany, but has also been used as the basis of certain parts of law outside Europe including the Dominican Republic, the US state of Louisiana and the Canadian province of Quebec.
The memory of Napoleon in Poland is highly favorable, for his support for independence and opposition to Russia, his legal code, the abolition of serfdom, and the introduction of modern middle class bureaucracies.
A number of leaders have been influenced by Napoleon. Muhammad Ali of Egypt sought alliance with Napoleon's France and sought to modernize Egypt along French governmental lines.
The Enlightenment thinking of this age challenges the "Divine Right of Kings" and embraces equality. Rousseau, Diderot and Voltaire were influential in developing the ideas of freedom and liberty. Rousseau wrote in his book "The Social Contract" received his power from the will of the people, not from God. This implies that the people can take away his power.
An Age of Overthrowing Kings
In England in the 1600s Oliver Cromwell led the Parliament to victory over Charles I and eventually had the King executed. Then the Americans defied King George III that claimed the land for England. The French created their "Declaration of the Rights of Man" as their stand for their right to lead themselves and not rely on a King or Lord to rule them. To be a King, Queen or aristocrat in France during the French Revolution was a death sentence to the fate of the guillotine.