The peace between Britain and the United States after the American Revolution was never completely friendly. Tensions remained over territorial claims and commercial interests. Under James Madison, elected President in 1808, the United States drifted rapidly into war with Britain. War Hawks like Henry Clay of Kentucky and John C. Calhoun of South Carolina dominated Congress. The war was more favored in the South and West than in New England.
War was declared on June 18, 1812. The federal government was unprepared for war. In addition, considerable minorities in both the United States House of Representatives and United States Senate had voted against war.
Although Britain dominated the ocean, Americans won victories on Lake Erie in 1813 and Lake Champlain in 1814. On land, U.S. forces invaded from Detroit but were driven back and captured. York, now Toronto, the capital of Upper Canada was captured in April, 1813, and held briefly.
The war ended with the Treaty of Ghent, signed two weeks before the American victory under Andrew Jackson at New Orleans.