President James Madison’s war message, June 1, 1812
As Congress debated whether to declare war against Great Britain, President James Madison addressed a message to the Senate and House of Representatives detailing British offenses against the United States. He concluded that Great Britain was already in a state of war against the United States, but left Congress to determine the nation’s response.
The conduct of her Government presents a series of acts, hostile to the United States as an independent and neutral nation.
Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration
War of 1812: Congress Declares War
The 1783 treaty that ended the American Revolution did not resolve conflict between the United States and Great Britain. Tensions escalated over Great Britain’s impressment of American sailors, interference with trade, occupation of U.S. territory, and relations with American Indians. In June 1812 Speaker of the House Henry Clay persuaded Congress to use its constitutional power to declare war for the first time. When President James Madison signed the declaration into law, the United States and Great Britain were again at war.