From Ohio History Central
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In November 1810, the French attempted to convince the United States to cut off trade with Great Britain by promising to respect the neutrality of American ships. Although President Madison did not trust the French promise, Great Britain took further offense at both France and the United States.
In 1812, Madison asked for a declaration of war against Britain. The main reasons for Madison's action included Britain's impressment (kidnapping) of U.S. sailors and Great Britain's seizure of U.S. goods. Britain's trade with
Native Americans also concerned Madison. The British provided natives with guns in exchange for furs. The British hoped that a well-armed Native American population could prevent further territorial expansion of the United States. The natives used their British weapons to slow U.S. westward expansion . The natives, with their guns, made life especially dangerous for white settlers living on the frontier, including people in Ohio. On June 18, 1812, Madison signed a declaration of war, officially beginning the War of 1812.
Although the United States did not have a strong military during the War of 1812, U.S. forces fought quite well on many occasions. By December 1814, both Great Britain and the United States realized that neither side was close to victory. Rather than continuing the fight, they agreed to try and settle their differences at the peace table. In December 1814, both sides agreed to the Treaty of Ghent. Both nations kept the land they had owned prior to the War of 1812. The peace treaty reestablished the situation that had existed before the conflict. More importantly for Madison and the U.S. public was their belief that they had won a war against the mightiest military power on the face of the earth. The War of 1812 left many in the U.S. with feelings of patriotism and a belief that they had been selected for greatness.