The War of 1812 divided the country along regional and party lines. The Jeffersonians (who called themselves Republicans) supported the war. This was especially true for young, brash members of Cong
ress – the so-called “War Hawks.” Their number included Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun. They were largely from the South and West and hoped the war would bring additional lands to the American nation. Former President Thomas Jefferson was reported to have said that “Canada will be ours, but for the marching.”
Federalists in the East and Northeast largely opposed the war, knowing it would do great damage to trade with Europe – a key economic activity for their region. When the war occurred, Federalist resistance continued, culminating in the Hartford Convention of 1815, where secession was discussed. The party’s actions during the war ultimately led the nation to reject them and they disappeared from the national scene soon thereafter.
At the foundation of their differences over the war were their competing views of what type of nation the United States should be. The Federalists had the Hamiltonian view that America should become an economic power based on manufacturing and trade. The Republicans held fast to Jefferson’s view of America as an agrarian nation of small, yeoman farmers.... show more