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Nations & Heroes

William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison
Perry's Victory on Lake Erie
Perry's Victory on Lake Erie

Among the principal outcomes of the War of 1812 were changes in national feeling among the participant nations of the war. Canadians today view the war as the first significant step toward nationhood. Defending the border against attack by the more populous United States was a clear victory for the future of what was then British North America. On a more somber note, the lack of a clear British victory and the death of Tecumseh proved to the be the end of the Pan-Indian movement. Some defense of Native American rights was written into the Treat of Ghent, but Americans ignored the provision and the British  saw no need to hold the U.S. to the terms.

Despite the fact that the United States did not achieve any of its policy objectives, including those regarding impressment and maritime restrictions, the mere fact that the U.S. had avoided being crushed by British military power was a point of pride. A focus on a few dramatic victories, such as the Battle of New Orleans, allowed Americans to champion the strength of their young nation and celebrate a new generation of heroes, including many who went on to serve in government.

Selective memory on the part of the United States fed into a variety of popular culture, particularly song. Patriotic spirit related to the War of 1812 was also expressed in poetry and drama in the decades following the war.