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The Story of America: The War of 1812 and Beyond

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
March 20, 2024 3:00 am

The Story of America: The War of 1812 and Beyond

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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March 20, 2024 3:00 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, in our 19th episode of "The Story of America" series, Bill McClay, author of Land of Hope, tells the story of a forgotten war that almost destroyed us—and how the fallout helped propel the nation forward into the Industrial Revolution.

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Welcome to 500 Greatest Songs, a podcast based on Rolling Stone's hugely popular, influential, and sometimes controversial list. I'm Brittany Spanos.

And I'm Rob Sheffield. We're here to shed light on the greatest songs ever made and discover what makes them so great. From classics like Fleetwood Mac's Dreams to the Ronettes' Be My Baby, and modern day classics like The Killer's Mr. Brightside.

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Non-obligations of Navy Federal and may lose value. This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories, the show where America is the star and the American people. Up next, another installment of our series about us. The Story of America series with Professor Bill Maclay, author of the terrific book Land of Hope. He's also a professor at Hillsdale College. And by the way, you can go to our website and find all of the stories of the story of us. We cover and will cover the entire history of the United States with the best in the business right now.

Again, that's Professor Bill Maclay. You can go to OurAmericanStories.com to find the story of us series. America was changing by the time Thomas Jefferson left office in 1812. It was becoming a more modern nation, but many of the problems that had plagued Jefferson refused to go away. Let's get into the story.

Take it away, Bill. Jefferson's two terms as president ended in 1809, but America's problems with the British did not end as James Madison took office. He found himself no match for the forces gathering on all sides to overwhelm him. He couldn't marshal a policy resolution with forces outside the country, but he was also struggling with growing divisions inside the country.

So it may have been an era of good feelings as historians sometimes say, but it was mixed feelings at best. Frontier settlers were ambitious and restless. They wanted to expand. They wanted to move westward into new territory. And when they did so, when that push came, increasing resistance and resentment came from the Indian tribes occupying those areas.

And this prompted Tecumseh, the great Shawnee leader, to attempt a unification of his own, a unification of all the tribes east of the Mississippi into one large Indian confederation of power, one unified army of tribes. Much of the Indian hostility was blamed by Americans on the British. At the very same time, a gaggle of Republican congressmen who were known as the war hawks were hell-bent on invading Canada. Poor James Madison, he was in the middle of all this irreconcilable and fervent mess. A 1812 war was declared, despite the fact the British had decided, unbeknownst to the Americans, to end its efforts to thwart American shipping and commerce. Luckily for America, the British were still preoccupied with the French and with the and with Napoleon and his ambitions in Europe. Or the War of 1812, as it became known, would have had a much different and much worse outcome for America. And things changed after Napoleon was finally defeated in 1814.

The British compiled a series of wins against the new nation, one of which included the sacking and burning of Washington, D.C., a humiliating catastrophic loss. It must be noted also that Madison faced real pressure from the Federalists in the northern states who had a different name for the War of 1812. They called it Mr. Madison's War. And they were so disgruntled, these opponents of the war, that they contemplated a gathering of the New England states to secede from the Union, nearly 50 years before the southern states did just that.

The nation continued to be frail, divided, with a future in peril. There was only one unforeseen glimmer of light. That was the American victory in New Orleans. The British plan was simple. Take New Orleans and cut the West off from the rest of America. General Andrew Jackson assembled a rag-tag army filled with a combination of militiamen, free blacks, French Creoles, and others. The British viewed it as obviously inferior to theirs.

That would prove to be an error on their part. Jackson's army and Jackson himself were more than equal to the task. They won a resounding victory through superior firepower, both the legendary hunters of Kentucky, who would become the central people in a campaign song of Jackson.

So he ran for president. So it was a great victory. The ironic thing is that this important victory had no direct military political consequences. It was a great victory.

Direct military political consequence. The war was over. The treaty again had been signed across the ocean. Peace had been restored. It's just that the people in New Orleans didn't know about it. Transatlantic communication being what it was, there was no transatlantic telegraph or cable had been laid.

Nothing like that existed. So there was a lengthy delay of information going back and forth. So really the victory in New Orleans made no difference in the terms by which the war of 1812 was set, but it made a huge difference in the outlook of the American people. They saw it as a great victory. They saw Jackson as arguably the first great national military hero. The first perhaps is Washington himself. And you've been listening to Professor Bill McClay tell the story of James Madison's presidency. And he's caught as you're finding out here, almost every president stepped into a mess with competing interests, conflicting interests that seemed irreconcilable.

Does that sound familiar? And what we learned in the end is that war breaks out once again with the British. And it's Andrew Jackson, the first national military hero to arrive in the U.S. And it's Andrew Jackson, the first national military hero to arise in our ranks since George Washington comes to the rescue.

A huge victory for America, but it didn't make that big a difference in Madison's presidency. When we come back, more of the remarkable story of the story of America here on Our American Stories. This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories. And all of our history stories are brought to us by our generous sponsors, including Hillsdale College, where students go to learn all the things that are beautiful in life and all the things that matter in life. If you can't get to Hillsdale, Hillsdale will come to you with their free and terrific online courses. Go to hillsdale.edu.

That's hillsdale.edu. Welcome to 500 Greatest Songs, a podcast based on Rolling Stone's hugely popular, influential and sometimes controversial list. I'm Brittany Spanos.

And I'm Rob Sheffield. We're here to shed light on the greatest songs ever made and discover what makes them so great. From classics like Fleetwood Mac's Dreams to the Ronettes Be My Baby and modern day classics like The Killer's Mr. Brightside.

Listen to Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. Are you ready to share some joy and celebrate International Women's Day? M&M's has partnered with iHeart for Women Take the Mic, treating you to the most uplifting and empowering stories of women supporting and celebrating each other. And of course, there is a smooth and creamy companion for your listening pleasure, peanut butter M&M's, because they're just another way to help treat yourself in situations where you deserve a little added delight, like listening to your favorite podcast. So grab a handful of that creamy deliciousness, kick back and spread some positivity into the world. From smashing glass ceilings to breaking records in sports, on stages and at the box office, women are crushing it in every way imaginable. And with peanut butter M&M's by your side, relax and keep listening to Women Take the Mic podcasts as you dance your way through inspiring stories, share laughs and savor the deliciousness of peanut butter M&M's and the unstoppable force of women. Happy International Women's Day.

family. It's commercial free stream anywhere. Get a free trial today. Go to update them family.com for your free trial. And we return to our American stories and the story of America series with Professor Bill McClay, author of the terrific book Land of Hope, and also the author of the young readers edition version.

Buy both of them at Amazon or wherever you get your books. When we last left off, the War of 1812 had rocked America. And although our nation's capital would be burned to the ground, we still had a rapidly changing nation. Let's return to the story.

Here again, is Bill McClay. With the War of 1812 behind America, the new nation was for the first time free of any entanglements with the European nations, and it could finally focus on its own ambitions, its own issues, its own internal troubles without being distracted by foreign foes or meddlers or disturbances. So the moment had come that had been awaited since America's birth, and the nation was now nearly 50 years old, but it was finally able to control its own destiny. This would reach fruition of sorts in a U.S. policy, a doctrine that would come to be known as the Monroe Doctrine associated with the presidency of James Monroe. It was a simple doctrine.

It went like this. Going forward into the future, that America would consider any effort by Europe to colonize any part of the Western Hemisphere, an attack on the United States, an affront to the United States, off limits. Now, along with that came a complementary promise to Europe. In short, we would keep our nose out of Europe's business, and Europe would keep its nose out of ours. There's an underlying message in the Monroe Doctrine as consequential as it was profound. The new nation was declaring to the world, and particularly to Europe, that we were their eats.

It was a bit bold. After all, America had no legal standing to assert these claims and no real military power to back them up. We didn't have a navy to speak of. Thus, the principles embodied in the Monroe Doctrine were shaky, but they prevailed. They prevailed, and the longer they prevailed, the stronger they became. They eventually became the bedrock of our nation's foreign policy well into the 20th century, which is a remarkable thing in and of itself. Now, the most important and urgent underlying claim of the Monroe Doctrine was this idea that the nation could now pursue its own destiny, its own identity, unfettered, undisturbed by outside influences. This was a great encouragement to national self-consciousness. It gave you a great deepening to the growing sense of national pride, of nationalism, national identity, and an American identity and economy.

It had become clear that it was going to be a national economy, and given that, given the national economy of a geographically rather large nation, what would be the best way to foster growth? A representative, Henry Clay, had some great ideas about it, and though a member of Jefferson's Republican Party at that time, his ideas had much more in common with Jefferson's rival, Alexander Hamilton, among them tariffs to protect American industry and what we would today call a big infrastructure project that would include the building of roads, canals, railroads, all with an eye to improving commerce among and between the states and the world. There was support for these federal improvement projects in the West, which stood to benefit from them, but the older eastern states were less pleased.

Madison himself vetoed the bill for the establishment of a large transportation fund, citing its unconstitutionality. Only one road, the old national road, resulted from the efforts to improve American infrastructure at this time. That's the road now known today as old US Route 40. This left the states and the voters in those states, along with private business, to get done the work of business and commerce, and those infrastructure projects, too. And there was an explosion of waterway construction projects. One such project worth discussing in detail, the construction of the 363-mile-long Erie Canal, a work of engineering genius.

Until then, the longest canal ever built was 27 miles long. Just to give some context to the scope of the project and the ambition. Behind him was a politician with real vision, Governor DeWitt Clinton of New York. He convinced the New York state legislature to commit seven million dollars, and that was a lot of money in those days, a lot of money, to construct what many of the time thought was a very expensive ditch.

And the eight-year project was popularly known at the time as Clinton's Folly. But Clinton had a vision. He predicted that the building of the canal would turn New York City into, and I quote, the granary of the world, the emporium of commerce, the seat of manufacturers, and the focus of great money operations. The whole of Manhattan, covered with habitations and replenished with dense population, will constitute one's vast city, close quote.

Well that's pretty prophetic. The Erie Canal started construction in 1817 and by 1825 it connected the American interior with its coasts, which would lead to remarkable growth all over America. And the destination for most of the canals traffic, New York City, would soon become America's greatest center of commerce, just as Governor DeWitt Clinton had predicted. But it was not just canals being built.

The first railways were being built in the 1820s and they would compete with the canals as shipping lanes had platforms all their own. And they would turn western towns like Chicago into commerce powerhouses, along with canals and rail lines for other significant developments. There was Samuel Slater, whose factory innovations and systems changed, textile main effect. Eli Whitney's cotton gin, which made short staple cotton into a commercially viable product and would make cotton king in the south. John Fitch and Robert Fulton's innovations in steam technology and other inventions like that would usher in an era of economic growth unrivaled in American history. There were also big innovations in law and finance, the biggest of them being state laws that created corporations, corporations, legal entities that allowed for the pooling by multiple individuals of the vast sums of capital required to build factories and commercial enterprises of a growing nation. All of this was transforming American life, changes in law, technology, transportation, and commerce. Jefferson's ideal of a nation of small independent farmers and the independence and self-reliance that such a way of life would engender. This was changing. America was becoming a nation of growing economic interconnectedness. The combination of these things made the nation unique and exceptional and would help to create a national spirit, national ethos.

But there were still important unresolved problems, one of them a huge unresolved issue. And you know what it is, slavery. Slavery. And a terrific job on the production, editing, and storytelling by our own Monty Montgomery and a special thanks to professor Bill Maclay who teaches at Hillsdale College. What a story Bill Maclay was telling about the development of the American identity, American commerce, but still that one lingering sin sitting there waiting to be addressed and that's slavery. The story of us with Bill Maclay here on Our American Stories. Welcome to 500 Greatest Songs, a podcast based on Rolling Stone's hugely popular, influential, and sometimes controversial list. I'm Brittany Spanos.

And I'm Rob Sheffield. We're here to shed light on the greatest songs ever made and discover what makes them so great. From classics like Fleetwood Mac's Dreams to the Ronettes' Be My Baby, and modern-day classics like The Killer's Mr. Brightside.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-20 04:11:58 / 2024-03-20 04:19:41 / 8

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