Leading up to War:
The American Revolution was not the end of the tension and hostility between Britain and the United States. Neither country was satisfied with the agreements made at the end of the American Revolution. Americans were angry with the British for failing to remove their soldiers from American territory and their unwillingness to sign trade agreements that were satisfactory to the United States.
This American resentment continued to grow strengthen as Britain made attempts to block off the entire continent of Europe. France then boycotted all British goods in any French territory and then ordered their ports to charge a bounty to any neutral ships that had visited a British port prior to arriving in their port. Britain also ordered that all neutral ships must dock at a British port in order to acquire a license before traveling to Europe. Americans viewed these actions as a direct violation of their Neutral Rights; that being said though, Britain had the more powerful navy and at the time dominated the seas. These facts only added to the bitterness that America already felt toward Britain.
These Neutral Rights violations did not cease with British and French maritime policies. Many sailors in the British Royal Navy had deserted and immigrated to the United States and served as sailors on American merchant ships. The Neutral Rights says that Belligerents may search for war material but can not deny the right of trade between neutrals and it also states that Belligerent armies shall not engage in hostilities in a neutral nation. There was an abundance of rumors of British Royal Navy ships searching, seizing and forcing British and American citizens from merchant ships. In June 1807, these rumors were proven true when an American ship, the Chesapeake, fired at a British vessel, the Leopard, when it refused to stop. This incident occurred well within U.S. territory.
In 1810, the Non-Intercourse Act expired and Congress created a law that would allow for trade with either France or England, whichever nation promised to stop harassing American shipping. France instantly agreed. Madison warned England that he would reinstate the embargo act, forbidding the U.S. to trade with England, unless the search-and-seizure policy ceased. Napoleon did not obey and England went about seizing American shipping anyway. As one could imagine this was a great insult to the United States and yet again further contributed to the growing tension.
Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison tried to find answers to these issues without war, which is what American people wanted, but approximately 20 Democratic-Republicans, known as the War Hawks, had other plans. The War Hawks were certain that the only possible response to these actions was war. By the time the new congress had met in 1811, members of the War Hawks had taken over key positions, which then helped influence the direction of the congressional debates. The War Hawks helped...