Essay Sample on the Second War for Independence and the Upsurge of Nationalism

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  1088 Words
Date:  2022-10-24


The second war for independence and the upsurge of nationalism marked an important period towards the growth of the United States of America as a nation. Indeed, the period between 1800 and 1830 saw an awakened spirit of nationalism among the Americans that brought with it pride for the homeland, a sense of belonging and the urge to nurture, build and protect what is ours. The place the United States of America holds in the world today can well be attributed to the battles that took place during this period. The purpose of this paper is to analyze chapter 12 of Oates Portrait of America with the aim of gaining a better understanding of the events and how these events had an impact in shaping America as we know it.

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America had over the years before the war has a strong connection and deeply embedded cultural ties with its "mother country." As a young nation, the country was still finding its self and looking for an identity that can best describe it as an independent nation. Indeed, most of the first generations who were present during the first war of independence felt that they were not at all free and it was necessary for the formation of a national culture symbolic to their independence. The second war for independence provided the opportunity for this and although it had with its losses and casualties, what was born from it was the upsurge of nationalism which brought with it the process of creating new American culture.

The Americans invaded Canada from Detroit, Lake Champlain, and Niagara. The army was well dealt with by the British and Canadians although the navy fared much better due to their better weapons and fighting spirit. Oliver Hazard Perry captured a British fleet in Lake Erie. In October 1813, General Harrison's army in the Battle of the Thames overtook the British at Fort Malden and Detroit. Control over the Great Lakes was vital and important for the war as well as for future endeavors for the two nations, and the Americans were victorious on this front. On the other side back home, they were facing another British onslaught for the capture of New York, Thomas Macdonough and his army saved upper New York from being taken over after forcing the British Army to retreat near Plattsburgh. Other than New York, his momentous victory was essential at keeping the union intact.

1814 August saw a second British force attack Washington D.C burning most of the buildings including the White House and Capitol. Andrew Jackson from the point of defeat staged an upsurge and defended New Orleans at the Battle of New Orleans and was a national hero. These little victories strengthened the Americans, and their spirit of nationhood grew. Tsar Alexander 1 of Russia called the Americans and the British to come to peace because he felt the war was causing Britain, his ally to focus less on Napoleon's taking over Europe. The treaty of Ghent was thus signed on December 24, 1814, in Ghent, Belgium. It saw an end to the fighting and the territories conquered were restored.

Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island met in Hartford to discuss their disgust with the war. They demanded financial assistance from Washington, a constitutional amendment allowing the inclusion of new states, the abolition of slavery, president serve one term, the abolition of 3/5 clause, and the prohibition of the election of two successive presidents from the same state. The resolutions marked an end to the Federalist Party with their last presidential candidate nominated in 1816.

The Second War for American Independence showed the world that America was well capable of defending itself. It also heightened nationalism as mentioned many times. It expanded the American army and navy, and the Bank of the United States was revived in 1816 by Congress. The American System that was meant to restore the economy and grow American industries. The British companies were selling their products cheaper which caused many American industries to close down. By imposing 20-25% tax on imports, a strong bank system, protective tariff, and good infrastructures such as roads and canals. These were meant to safeguard American interests.

The "Era of Good Feelings" was a period where the two political parties were getting along. James Monroe had just won the 1816 elections. However, in 1819, the "Panic of 1819" and the "Curse of Hard Times" was felt. Nine states from the West had joined America during this period. The West was vast with lands and plantations which saw people move west. However, the bank foreclosed many farms from the west, and there grew some tension during this period.

The Tallmadge Amendment made it possible to have free slave states. It created a Peculiar Institution for the union. Missouri was not allowed to join since Maine, a part of Massachusetts wanted to be admitted as a free state. An uneasy compromise was made that forbade slavery in territories towards the north of Missouri.

John Marshall made the judiciary more nationalistic in nature. Indeed in McCulloch vs. Maryland (1819), he strengthened federal authority when he denied Maryland permission to tax the Bank of the United States. In Cohens vs. Virginia (1821), the powers of the federal government were further shown as well as in Gibbons vs. Ogden (1824).

Monroe came up with the Monroe Doctrine of 1823 that warned European powers telling that colonization was over in America and warned them against foreign intervention. They had a little impact although they disgusted Europe greatly particularly Spain and Britain. His doctrine was thriving from the nationalism created during the period. It led to the Russo-American Treaty of 1824 that saw the Russians retreat towards Alaska.


In conclusion, it is clear that the second war for independence was able to cement and build a foundation that created a sense of belonging, created a new culture and more importantly, gave pride to America. Particularly, the victory led more states joining and eventually becoming the United States we know today, it led to America's economic strengths as is indicated with the creation of markets for their industries. The war also made America a bit cocky although it was necessary especially considering it had the soft military strength and the cockiness had an effect on the enemies. A new world was starting, a world without European influence, a world where America would forge its own path. A world that led to the creation of the world's strongest nation, whose journey started with the second war for independence.


Oates, Stephen B., and Charles J. Errico. Portrait of America. Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2012.

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