President Thomas Jefferson, our third president, bought the Louisiana territory from the French in 1803. He originally was only interested in purchasing the city of New Orleans, but the French leader, Napoleon Bonaparte, aspired to conquer all of Europe and therefore needed money. Jefferson offered two million dollars for New Orleans; Bonaparte offered New Orleans and all the Louisiana territory for 15 million. This purchase more than doubled the size of the United States. In the years to come, this territory would provide all or part of the land for fifteen states; LA, AR, MO, IA, MN, ND, SD, NE, KS, OK, MT, WY, CO, NM, and TX.
Jefferson knew nothing about this new land, so Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were sent to explore the region. With the help of a French trader and his Indian wife, Sacagawea, the two explorers crossed rivers and mountains to reach the Pacific Ocean.
The War of 1812 is sometimes known as the second War of Independence because, like the Revolutionary War, it was fought against England. Of course, there are lots of online resources covering this war but for some of the best ironically check out the BBC. There are some great history documentaries and dramas although you’ll need something to hide your IP address from outside the UK. This post details of how you can watch BBC TV abroad for free using a trial account, it only lasts 14 days but it’s enough to check out the shows.
France, led by Napoleon Bonaparte, was at war with England. The United States became involved when English warships began to stop United States ships and abduct U.S. sailors to fight for the English Navy. Although both England and France violated the United States maritime rights, the newly independent United States saw this as England’s refusal to respect their sovereignty.
In 1811, President James Madison, our fourth president, asked the Congress to declare war against England. After eight months of bitter deliberation, Congress passed a Declaration of War on June 18, 1812. Battles ranged from the United States-Canadian frontier, south to the defense of New Orleans in early 1815.
In August 1814, English troops had taken and burned the White House, the US Capitol, and most other government buildings in DC. They next moved to Baltimore on September 13-14, 1814, where Ft McHenry’s defenses withstood heavy naval bombing. It was during this nighttime shelling, that Frances Scott Key, a poet from Baltimore, wrote what became our National Anthem, The Star Spangled Banner.
Even though the Treaty of Ghent officially ended the war in 1814, fighting did not cease until 1815 with The Battle of New Orleans.