Effects of the Napoleonic Wars

Essay by juliejungalooHigh School, 11th gradeA-, November 2014

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In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, America, the revolutionary nation was not unfamiliar with Britain and France, powerful countries of the Old World. Issues such as the American Revolution, French Revolution, and the scandalous XYZ affair connected each country to another. To avoid entangling themselves in such issues, President Jefferson and former president Washington firmly believed in establishing neutrality; however, this vision was short-lived as foreign events forced leaders to reevaluate their position. As Napoleon came to power in 1799, tension between France and Britain intensified, resulting in many conflicts and battles. To further the need for force, Britain and France issued the Orders in Council and the Berlin and Milan Decrees respectively that restricted the United States' freedom of the seas. They also disrespected and disregarded America's neutrality and took actions including impressment to irritate the citizens of the democracy. All of these events of the Napoleonic Wars affected America deeply and gave rise to the spirit of nationalism which directed the course of the nation; the wars planted the seed for an industrial revolution where manufacture flourished, allowed American culture, education, and arts to develop, expanded the country, and further implemented the idea of isolationism.

It all seemed to begin with Britain and France both of whom were aiming for supremacy in the old and new world. The early conflicts like the Battle of Trafalgar held Britain ruler of the seas and the Battle of Austerlitz declared France ruler of the land. Such blows fueled the competition, which eventually led to the enforcement of Orders in Council and the Berlin and Milan Decrees in 1806-1807. What was intended to harm the opposing side harmed the American trade the most; American vessels were restricted from trading with either nation by the use of weapons and naval tactics. Moreover, in...