United States presidential election, 1812

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James Madison

James Madison

The United States presidential election of 1812 took place in the shadow of the War of 1812. It featured an intriguing competition between incumbent Democratic-Republican President James Madison and a dissident Democratic-Republican, DeWitt Clinton, nephew of Madison's late Vice President. The Federalist opposition threw their support behind Clinton. Nonetheless, Madison was re-elected.



The spillover from the Napoleonic Wars had been steadily worsening throughout James Madison's first term, with the British and the French both ignoring the United States' neutral rights at sea and seizing American ships. The British provided additional provocations by impressing American seamen, by maintaining forts within United States territory in the Northwest, and by supporting American Indians at war with the United States in both the Northwest and Southwest.

Meanwhile, expansionists in the south and west of the United States coveted both British Canada and Spanish Florida, and wanted to use the provocations as a pretext to seize both areas. The pressure steadily built, and the United States declared war on Great Britain on June 12, 1812. This was after Madison had been nominated by the Democratic-Republicans but before the Federalists had made their nomination.

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