The Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812

New Tensions in America

A New American Dream

Soldier, Glengarry Regiment of Fencible Light Infantry, 1812-1816

Caption: Soldier, Glengarry Regiment of Fencible Light Infantry, 1812-1816

As a consequence, the Americans, who had been confined to the east of the Mississippi, saw their western border disappear. Vast lands, most of which had been unexplored, were now open to them. Some, including President Thomas Jefferson, began to dream of continental hegemony for their country, a dream that was later to be called "Manifest Destiny"; it was obvious to them that the United States was destined to dominate all of North America, including Canada and part of Mexico. In 1805 an expedition led by two officers of the regular American army, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, reached the Pacific at the level of Oregon, thus establishing a transcontinental link to the south of Canada.

Relations between England and the United States gradually worsened. The Royal Navy prevented American merchant ships, which were neutral, from entering European ports. Worse still, they searched ships flying the Stars and Stripes for British sailors who had deserted. The American navy at the time had only a few frigates and gunboats, but the men did not lack the courage to oppose the English cruisers. In 1807 and 1811 there were even a few isolated battles between ships of the Royal Navy and the U.S. Navy.

Eventually, diplomatic relations deteriorated to the point where in early 1812 it was decided to recruit another regiment of Fencibles in Upper Canada. The Glengarry Light Infantry was raised, partly of Scottish colonists in the eastern part of what is now the province of Ontario.