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In response to the British economic blockade of France, the forcible induction of American seaman into the British Royal Navy and the British support of hostile Indian tribes along the Great Lakes frontier, an American war declaration went into effect on this day in 1812. The “War Hawks” faction in Congress had been advocating war with Britain for several years and hoped that invading Canada might result in significant territorial land gains. Months later, American forces launched an unsuccessful three-point invasion of Canada. By 1814, with Napoleon Bonaparte’s French Empire collapsing, the British were able to allocate more military resources to the American war, and Washington, D.C., fell to the British in August. British troops burned the White House, the Capitol, and other buildings in retaliation for the earlier burning of government buildings in Canada by U.S. soldiers.
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