The Weight of Vengeance


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Table of Contents

Note on terms Acknowledgments Introduction 1 The American Case for War 2 The British Empire's Case for War 3 Declaring War 4 America on the Offensive 5 The British Empire at War 6 Wartime Opposition in the United States 7 British Opposition to the War 8 Ending the War and Constructing the Peace Conclusion: Who Won the War of 1812? Abbreviations Notes Index

About the Author

Troy Bickham is a Professor of History at Texas A&M University. He is the author of Making Headlines: The American Revolution as Seen Through the British Press and Savages within the Empire.


"A well-researched work, Bickham's book places the conflict in a transatlantic framework, comparing and contrasting British and American motivations, attitudes, and perceptions."--Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History "Bickham accomplishes a lot in this volume...Well written and occasionally provocative. Highly recommended."--CHOICE "A provocative, behind-the-scenes look at the machinations of empires, this excellent history will appeal to all interested readers."--Library Journal "[Bickham] argues rightly that the war involved a commercial struggle within the Atlantic world as well as a struggle to dominate North America. Behind the ostensible casus belli--e.g., the impressment of sailors from American ships by the Royal Navy--was a clash between America's expansion and Britain's efforts to avenge an earlier defeat by making a former colony a client state."--The Wall Street Journal "Authoritative, up-to-date, and readable...Modern scholarship at its very best."--The Weekly Standard "Densely-researched and fascinating...If the American Revolution was fought for a national existence, the War of 1812 was fought for a national validity--the 'certain rank' James Monroe invoked in dealings with the fractious British diplomats who sought to codify the new nation as a permanent junior partner on the world stage. The fight for that rank was carried out far more importantly in the press of the day than on the limited battlefields of the war itself, and Bickham, by exploring that fight, has made an invaluable contribution to our understanding of Mr. Madison's War."--Open Letters Monthly "Through eight chapters of lively narrative that alternate between the perspectives of Britain and those of the United States, Bickham stays true to his central premise that the United States fought the War of 1812 to force Britain to respect American national sovereignty, while the British fought to maintain the right to ignore it. Bickham spins a good yarn."--Nicole Eustace, Journal of American History "Well-researched...Bickham's deft juggling of imperial and national complexities is certain to make The Weight of Vengeance an important contribution to the historiography of the War of 1812."--Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History "Bickham's account of the peace negotiations [is] the best I have read."--American Historical Review "An interesting and well-written book that throws light on one of the most complex wars in America's history, at once the last stage of the rejection of British power and the first major war of American imperialism."--Jeremy Black, author of The War of 1812 "The War of 1812 still raises patriotic hackles in some quarters today, far more so that the American Revolutionary conflict. For a long time a cool, authoritative, mid-Atlantic voice has been needed, addressing far wider issues than are considered by the many existing naval and military studies. Troy Bickham has provided this with a thorough analysis of the motivations and capabilities of America, Britain and Canada. Here is the full story behind the decisions and events, from the pre-war period when all three combatants underestimated each others' resolve, to the peace signed at Ghent in 1814 between two politically- fragile governments. This astute and nuanced book will now be central to our understanding of this conflict."--Roger Knight, University of Greenwich "The War of 1812, after decades of neglect, is again interesting historians. Yet Troy Bickham, by placing the war in a global context and showing that it mattered for Britain as well as Canada and the United States, brings fresh perspectives to the subject. His new insights, and his clear and accessible prose, make this an important contribution to a growing literature on an important war."--Stephen Conway, author of Britain, Ireland, and Continental Europe in the Eighteenth Century: Similarities, Connections, Identities "Troy Bickham's splendidly balanced account of the War of 1812 explores how the British as well as the Americans allowed partisan politics and jingoistic emotion to spark a war that need not have occurred."--T. H. Breen, Nicholas Chabraja Center for Historical Studies, Northwestern University "Engagingly written and full of new information, Troy Bickham's The Weight of Vengeance fittingly commemorates the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. Bickham's account, highly original yet judicious, shows how military strategy reflected the public opinion of the combatants: U.S., Canadian, and British."--Daniel Walker Howe, author of What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 "As [Bickham's] analysis proceeds, a decisive view of the war becomes increasingly clear -- and increasingly persuasive...The conflict receives a worthy chronicle here that will clarify its meaning for anyone who cares to understand it."--History News Network "In The Weight of Vengeance, Troy Bickham counters that conventional wisdom, arguing that the war 'was not militarily, strategically, or emotionally a peripheral event for Britain and its empire.'"--Foreign Affairs "Based on extensive investigation of primary sources, this book contains pensive theses and provides much context about the salient trans-Atlantic facets of the forgotten War of 1812...This elegantly written book will become a classic in the field."--R. William Weisberger, Pennsylvania History

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