The United States ships and sailors were being seized by the British and used in their war against France.
Our 4th president, President James Madison sent diplomats to England to work out a peaceful solution. Two days before Congress voted for war, the British agreed to one of America's two chief demands. But in times when there was no quick means of communication and it took weeks to cross the Atlantic Ocean, Congress had not heard of this newest development.
When the effort for a peaceful solution appeared to fail, President Madison asked Congress to declare war on England for their unlawful attack and seizure of United States ships and sailors.
The War of 1812 was fought on land and sea. America's most famous ship, the U.S.S. Constitution remained undefeated. It became known as "Old Ironsides" because of it's resistance to the British guns. It has been restored several times, and today it floats in the Boston harbor in Massachusetts.
In Boston harbor
Early in the war, the Americans had mounted an attack on the British in York, Canada (now Toronto). They ended up looting and burning public buildings in York and destroyed the records of the province.
Then in August of 1814, the British fleet landed without any resistance and marched on Washington. After battling American soldiers, the British set fire to the Capitol, the White House, and other government buildings. Dolly Madison, the president's wife, was able to gather many valuable state papers and a portrait of George Washington from the White House before it burned.
In 1814 at the battle to capture Baltimore, the British were unable to defeat the soldiers inside Fort McHenry. When the battle began, Francis Scott Key was aboard a nearby British warship, attempting to negotiate the exchange of prisoners. After an all-night bombardment, there was little hope that the soldiers inside Fort McHenry were still alive, but at dawn, the American flag was still standing, the fort untaken.
Francis Scott Key then penned the words to The Star-Spangled Banner.
The last battle of the war was fought in New Orleans, in January of 1815. The British suffered great casualties - over 2,000 men. This would seem to be an enormous victory if the Peace Treaty had not already been signed. News arrived by ship on February 11, 1815, about 2 weeks after the peace treaty had been signed in Europe.
The War of 1812 did not really settle any issues over which the war was fought. Peace returned and so was any territory and prisoners that were captured. But the United States didn't feel they had fought for nothing; they had shown they would fight for their rights and that this young nation was here to stay.