Union 1812: The Americans Who Fought the Second War of Independence

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Union 1812: The Americans Who Fought the Second War of Independence

Author: A.J. Langguth
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Copyright: 2006
Pages: 496
Cover Price: $ 30.00

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In A. J. Langguth's classic Patriots: The Men Who Started the American Revolution, he brought to life leaders from the generation of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson in all of their complexity, with their great strengths and human frailties. In Union 1812, those men appear again, tempered now by age and new responsibilities. James Madison, the fourth president of the United States, must decide whether to go to war again only thirty years after the American Revolution. Washington, Adams, and Jefferson had all made major concessions to avoid entangling their young and divided nation in new battles with Europe. But the War Hawks, aggressive congressmen from the South and West, are demanding that Madison take action to uphold America's honor against Great Britain.

In this gripping narrative of the second and final war of independence, Madison leads an unprepared nation into a struggle that will establish the United States as a major world power and stake its claim to the entire continent.As the war begins, the U.S. Navy consists of seventeen oceangoing ships; the British fleet numbers seven hundred. Nor is the country united in its will to win. Governors in New England are refusing to call out their militia, while mobs attack antiwar newspaper editors in Baltimore in a violent repetition of the Boston Massacre.Dramatic scenes range across the world, from vicious fighting on the frontier -- one British officer compares the hand-to-hand combat with the savagery of bulldogs -- to Dolley Madison's elegant receptions at the executive mansion and the wrangling among America's peace delegates in Belgium at Ghent.

Before the outcome is decided, the war will have engulfed land and sea, with a disastrous U.S. defeat at Detroit and epic naval campaigns on the Great Lakes. After the Americans sack Toronto, the British retaliate by burning the White House and the Capitol and laying siege with their rockets to Fort McHenry.Finally, two and a half years of bloodshed and botched strategies culminate in the spectacular battle of New Orleans.The heroes of Patriots are joined here by dozens of the most colorful and enduring characters from America's past: not only the diminutive and brilliant Madison and the statuesque Dolley, but also Sam Houston and Davy Crockett, Oliver Perry and Stephen Decatur, the great Shawnee chieftain Tecumseh, and four legendary men who will follow Madison into the White House -- James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Quincy Adams, and the triumphant hero Andrew Jackson.For too long, the War of 1812 has been ignored or misunderstood. Union 1812 thrillingly illustrates why it must take its place as one of the defining moments in American history.

Background Information

James Madison helped draft the Constitution, collaborated on the Federalist Papers and became Americ'as Fourth President. Sometimes called the second American war for independence, the War of 1812 was the last battle against foreign troops on American soil. After the Continental Navy was allowed to lapse, the U.S. Navy was reconstituted and has defend America for over two centuries. New England is the name given to those states that lie north and east of New York State. Baltimore, Maryland, was founded in 1729 and is named for Lord Baltimore, a British peer and proprietor of Maryland colony. Dolley Madison was a young widow when she married James Madison. She is best remembered for saving important items from the White House before the British burned it. The White House is the official residence in Washington DC of the President of the United States. Fort McHenry was attacked by the British during the War of 1812 and inspired Francis Scott Key to write the Star Spangled Banner. The final battle of the War of 1812 took place after the peace had been signed, but the victorious Andrew Jackson hadn't heard the news. Popularized as "Davy" Crocket, David Crockett was a pioneer in Tennessee, a Congressman, and a casualty in the defense of the Alamo in the War for Texas Independence. Two American naval officers named Stephen Decatur fought in the American Revolution and the War of 1812 respectively. Tecumeh, along with his brother The Prophet, fought to protect the Shawnees against encroaching whites until his death in the War of 1812.