On This Day, June 18, 1812 – The War of 1812 Begins

Chase_of_the_Constitution,_July_1812

1812 – The day after the Senate followed the House of Representatives in voting to declare war against Great Britain, President James Madison signs the declaration into law – and the War of 1812 begins. The American war declaration, opposed by a sizable minority in Congress, had been called in response to the British economic blockade of France, the induction of American seaman into the British Royal Navy against their will, and the British support of hostile Indian tribes along the Great Lakes frontier. A faction of Congress known as the “War Hawks” had been advocating war with Britain for several years and had not hidden their hopes that a U.S. invasion of Canada might result in significant territorial land gains for the United States.

In the months after President Madison proclaimed the state of war to be in effect, American forces launched a three-point invasion of Canada, all of which were decisively unsuccessful. In 1814, with Napoleon Bonaparte’s French Empire collapsing, the British were able to allocate more military resources to the American war, and Washington, D.C., fell to the British in August. In Washington, British troops burned the White House, the Capitol, and other buildings in retaliation for the earlier burning of government buildings in Canada by U.S. soldiers.

In September, the tide of the war turned when Thomas Macdonough’s American naval force won a decisive victory at the Battle of Plattsburg Bay on Lake Champlain. The invading British army was forced to retreat back into Canada. The American victory on Lake Champlain led to the conclusion of U.S.-British peace negotiations in Belgium, and on December 24, 1814, the Treaty of Ghent was signed, formally ending the War of 1812. By the terms of the agreement, all conquered territory was to be returned, and a commission would be established to settle the boundary of the United States and Canada.

British forces assailing the Gulf Coast were not informed of the treaty in time, and on January 8, 1815, the U.S. forces under Andrew Jackson achieved the greatest American victory of the war at the Battle of New Orleans. The American public heard of Jackson’s victory and the Treaty of Ghent at approximately the same time, fostering a greater sentiment of self-confidence and shared identity throughout the young republic.


1155 – Frederick I Barbarossa was crowned emperor of Rome.

1621 – The first duel in America took place in the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts.

1667 – The Dutch fleet sailed up the Thames toward London.

1778 – Britain evacuated Philadelphia during the U.S. Revolutionary War.

1815 – At the Battle of Waterloo, Napoleon was defeated by an international army under the Duke of Wellington. Napoleon abdicated on June 22.

1817 – London’s Waterloo Bridge opened. The bridge, designed by John Rennie, was built over the River Thames.

1861 – The first American fly-casting tournament was held in Utica, NY.

1863 – J.J. Richardson received a patent for the ratchet wrench.

1873 – Susan B. Anthony was fined $100 for attempting to vote for a U.S. President.

1898 – Atlantic City, NJ, opened its Steel Pier.

1925 – The first degree in landscape architecture was granted by Harvard University.

1927 – The U.S. Post Office offered a special 10-cent postage stamp for sale. The stamp was of Charles Lindbergh’s “Spirit of St. Louis.”


Amelia Earhart

1928 – Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean as she completed a flight from Newfoundland to Wales.


1936 – The first bicycle traffic court was established in Racine, WI.

1942 – The U.S. Navy commissioned its first black officer, Harvard University medical student Bernard Whitfield Robinson.

1953 – Seventeen major league baseball records were tied or broken in a game between the Boston Red Sox and the Detroit Tigers.

1959 – A Federal Court annulled the Arkansas law allowing school closings to prevent integration.

1959 – The first telecast received from England was broadcast in the U.S. over NBC-TV.

1975 – Fred Lynn of the Boston Red Sox hit three home runs, a triple and a single in a game against the Detroit Tigers.

1979 – In Vienna, U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Leonid Brezhnev signed the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) 2.

1982 – The U.S. Senate approved the renewal of the 1965 Voting Rights Act for an additional twenty-five years.

1983 – Dr. Sally Ride became the first American woman in space aboard the space shuttle Challenger.

2009 – Greenland assumed control over its law enforcement, judicial affairs, and natural resources from the Kingdom of Denmark. Greenlandic became the official language.

Source: On-This-Day.com; History.com