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Two hundred years ago June 18, President James Madison signed the
United States’ war declaration against Great Britain, starting the
War of 1812.
Contributing to the declaration were British impediments to American trade with France,
the impressment of American merchant sailors into Britain’s Royal Navy, and Britain’s
support of American Indian tribes against American expansion into the Old Northwest
as a buffer for Canada. Some Americans including Thomas Jefferson even saw the war
as an opportunity to acquire Canada.
The war lasted until 1815 and ended in what many historians consider a draw, with
neither side gaining or losing significant territory.
Psychologically, though, Americans felt they’d won a second war of independence. Canada
successfully repelled US invaders, giving the war a prominent spot in Canadian national
consciousness. Great Lakes and Southeast American Indians lost their hold on their
lands. Many left, made deals with the US government or were removed to Indian Territory.
Find bicentennial events, a timeline, and museum and historic site information at
the Official War of 1812 Bicentennial website.
If your ancestors fought in the War of 1812, here are some free FamilyTreeMagazine.com
articles to start your research:
Canadians in the War of 1812: Find resources for tracing Canadians in the War
of 1812, including Library
and Archives Canada’s projects to digitize War of 1812 records.
Records at the National Archives: This is a list of the National Archives’ microfilmed
military records, including those related to the War of 1812. You can find copies
of the films at the Family History Library,
and many are digitized on genealogy database websites such as Ancestry.com, Fold3 and FamilySearch.
At Your Service:
Compare your ancestor’s birth date to this chart to see if he might have fought in
the War of 1812 (or another war).
War of 1812
Prisoner of War Records: If your War of 1812 ancestor was taken as a prisoner
of war, start your records search with these resources.
of 1812 Records: Our AncestorNews columnist links to several of her favorite,
free War of 1812 online databases. (Note that the Library of Virginia database linked
on this page is down June 12 due to a power outage at the library.)
Here are some resources from ShopFamilyTree.com that you might find helpful.
Strategies: 10 Lesser-Known Military Conflicts article download (one of the conflicts
is the War of 1812)
2012 Family Tree Magazine (now mailing
to subscribers and on
sale in ShopFamilyTree.com), with David Allen Lambert’s guide to War of 1812 genealogy
Military Records: Trace Your Ancestors’ Service Family Tree University course,
taught by Diana Crisman Smith (see
FamilyTreeUniversity.com for the upcoming course schedule)