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Summary

Though hailed as "the second war for independence" by some Americans, the War of 1812 was a sorry and sobering episode. Washington, D.C. was burned and several New England states debated the possibility of breaking with federal policy. The United States was internally divided, badly disorganized, and lucky to avoid reconquest at the hands of the English, who decided that the price of recapturing their lost American colonies would be too high after twenty grueling and expensive years of war with France. The Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812, returned North America to its pre-war status and ignored the issue of impressment, for which the United States was ostensibly fighting. The war did establish Andrew Jackson as a national hero, though his victory in the Battle of New Orleans actually occurred after treaty terms had already been concluded. Ironically, the War of 1812 may have had its strongest impact on Canada-s national identity, which formed in large part around enduring opposition to the idea of being controlled by the United States.