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War of 1812: Congress Declares War

The 1783 treaty that ended the American Revolution did not resolve all conflicts 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. President James Madison signed the declaration into law, and the United States and Great Britain were at war for the second time.

1 Image “Impressment of American Seamen”, wood engraving after a drawing by... View All Images
1 Image Henry Clay, oil on canvas by Charles Bird King, 1821 View All Images
2 Images President James Madison’s war message, June 1, 1812 View All Images
1 Image Senate Changes to the House Declaration of War, June 17, 1812 View All Images