The British View the War of 1812 Quite Differently Than Americans Do

This article by Amanda Foreman poses an interesting perspective on how history is different depending on who is telling the story – one of the big ideas I remember from last year. American commentators tend to glorify the outcomes of this war, posing it as the beginning of the “birth of American Freedom.” It is intriguing to see how this war is viewed by two of the major sides – while American’s may see it as what was the start of their independence, Britain has more feelings of betrayal attached to it. For America, 1812 was the war of gaining independence for itself as a nation while for Britain, 1812 was but a small detail while winning the ‘real war’ against Napoleon.

In the 19th century, the Canadian historian William Kingsford was only half-joking when he commented, “The events of the War of 1812 have not been forgotten in England for they have never been known there.” In the 20th, another Canadian historian remarked that the War of 1812 is “an episode in history that makes everybody happy, because everybody interprets it differently…the English are happiest of all, because they don’t even know it happened.”