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American sentiment grew increasingly hostile toward Britain due to incidents such as the Chesapeake–Leopard affair, which happened five years before the war.The British were in turn outraged by the Little Belt affair in 1811, in which 11 British sailors died.In 1813, the Americans won the Battle of Lake Erie, gaining control of the lake, and they defeated Tecumseh's Confederacy at the Battle of the Thames, securing a primary war goal.
Historians debate whether the desire to annex some or all of British North America (Canada) contributed to the American decision to go to war.
However, the Western interest was in expansion into American territories such as Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, where they were threatened by Indians supported by the British.
On June 18, 1812, President James Madison signed into law the American declaration of war, after heavy pressure from the War Hawks in Congress.
With most of its army in Europe fighting Napoleon, Britain adopted a defensive strategy, with offensive operations initially limited to the border and the western frontier.
The Americans triumphantly celebrated the restoration of their national honour, leading to the collapse of anti-war sentiment and the beginning of the Era of Good Feelings, a period of national unity.
The treaty was unanimously ratified by the US Senate on February 17, 1815, ending the war with no boundary changes.
Historian Reginald Horsman states that "a large section of influential British opinion, both in the government and in the country, thought that America presented a threat to British maritime supremacy." The American merchant marine had nearly doubled between 18, making it by far the largest neutral fleet.
Britain was the largest trading partner, receiving 80-percent of American cotton and 50-percent of other American exports, and the British public and press were resentful of the growing mercantile and commercial competition.
News of the peace did not reach America for some time.
In February 1815, news reached the East Coast concerning the great victory at New Orleans—at the same time as news of the Christmas peace treaty.