The Weight of Vengeance: The United States, the British Empire, and the War of 1812

The Weight of Vengeance: The United States, the British Empire, and the War of 1812

by Troy Bickham
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The Weight of Vengeance: The United States, the British Empire, and the War of 1812 by Troy Bickham


In early 1815, Secretary of State James Monroe reviewed the treaty with Britain that would end the War of 1812. The United States Navy was blockaded in port; much of the army had not been paid for nearly a year; the capital had been burned. The treaty offered an unexpected escape from disaster. Yet it incensed Monroe, for the name of Great Britain and its negotiators consistently appeared before those of the United States. "The United States have acquired a certain rank amongst nations, which is due to their population and political importance," he brazenly scolded the British diplomat who conveyed the treaty, "and they do not stand in the same situation as at former periods."

Monroe had a point, writes Troy Bickham. In The Weight of Vengeance, Bickham provides a provocative new account of America's forgotten war, underscoring its significance for both sides by placing it in global context. The Napoleonic Wars profoundly disrupted the global order, from India to Haiti to New Orleans. Spain's power slipped, allowing the United States to target the Floridas; the Haitian slave revolt contributed to the Louisiana Purchase; fears that Britain would ally with Tecumseh and disrupt the American northwest led to a pre-emptive strike on his people in 1811. This shifting balance of power provided the United States with the opportunity to challenge Britain's dominance of the Atlantic world. And it was an important conflict for Britain as well. Powerful elements in the British Empire so feared the rise of its former colonies that the British government sought to use the War of 1812 to curtail America's increasing maritime power and its aggressive territorial expansion. And by late 1814, Britain had more men under arms in North America than it had in the Peninsular War against Napoleon, with the war with America costing about as much as its huge subsidies to European allies.

Troy Bickham has given us an authoritative, lucidly written global account that transforms our understanding of this pivotal war.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780195391787
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 06/11/2012
Pages: 344
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Troy Bickham is an Associate Professor of History and a Ray A. Rothrock Fellow in the College of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M University. He is the author of Making Headlines: The American Revolution as Seen Through the British Press and Savages within the Empire.

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The Weight of Vengeance: The United States, the British Empire, and the War of 1812 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Historylover30 More than 1 year ago
I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked this up at the bookstore--maybe too academic or another rambling collection of battle narratives. But this was fantastic--detailed analysis without high-handed prose or organization. The book takes a complete look at the war, as so few accounts of war do. It looks at battles to be sure but also the home front and the decisions being made in the back rooms of politics. I especially liked the more world view it takes by looking at what the war meant for Native Americans, Canada and the British Empire. I had no idea how important the U.S. was to the British Caribbean slave plantations and how important Britain's own imperial objectives were in bringing the war about and controlling it once it started. To read other accounts you would think Britain couldn't have cared less. In other words, a great all around read for anyone interested in the conflict or that period in U.S. history or understanding how the U.S. developed the way it did. Lots of lessons for the present too.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent and worth reading.