The Financial History of the War of 1812

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The War of 1812 brought daunting financial challenges to the national government of the United States. At the onset of war, policymakers were still in the process of sifting through a developing body of American economic thought while contemplating the practicalities of banking and public finance. The young nation's wartime experience encompassed the travails of incompetent and cautious leadership, the incautious optimism that stemmed from several previous years of economic growth, the inadequacies of the banking system, and, ultimately, the temporary deterioration of the financial position of the United States. While not equivalent to great tragedy, the war did force ... continued below

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Morales, Lisa R. May 2009.

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  • Morales, Lisa R.

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The War of 1812 brought daunting financial challenges to the national government of the United States. At the onset of war, policymakers were still in the process of sifting through a developing body of American economic thought while contemplating the practicalities of banking and public finance. The young nation's wartime experience encompassed the travails of incompetent and cautious leadership, the incautious optimism that stemmed from several previous years of economic growth, the inadequacies of the banking system, and, ultimately, the temporary deterioration of the financial position of the United States. While not equivalent to great tragedy, the war did force Americans to attend to the financial infrastructure of the country and reevaluate what kinds of institutions were truly necessary. This study of the financing of the War of 1812 provides a greater understanding of how the early American economy functioned and the sources of its economic progress during that era. Financial studies have typically not been a primary focus of historians, and certainly with regard to the War of 1812, it is easy to understand a preoccupation with political and military affairs. To a large degree, however, economic realities and financial infrastructure determine a nation's capacity for growth and change as well as national strength. The War of 1812 offers a prism through which to view the tensions of economic and financial policymaking during an emergency situation and reveals an important turning point in the development of distinctly American financial ideas and institutions.

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  • May 2009

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Oct. 10, 2009, 4:40 p.m.

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  • Jan. 16, 2014, 12:18 p.m.

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Morales, Lisa R. The Financial History of the War of 1812, dissertation, May 2009; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc9922/: accessed October 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .