The First War the United States Didn't Have to Fight

The war of 1812 was sometimes called “Madison’s war” by those who opposed the President’s call for military action against Great Britain. A whole slew of grievances was building up between the two countries, especially with Britain’s bullying behavior in the seas. But it was also clear that Pres. Madison was itching for war, and that he led us into a war that could have been avoided. That was certainly the opinion of Henry Adams, when writing a history of the United States about a century later:

Many nations have gone to war in pure gaiety of heart, but perhaps the United States were first to force themselves into a war they dreaded, in the hope that the war itself might create the spirit they lacked.

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