If you are like me, all you learned about the War of 1812 in your high school history classes is that the British burned Washington, that they sailed on up the river but failed to take Fort Henry (an event prompting Francis Scott Key to write the Star Spangled Banner), and that Andrew Jackson heroically defended New Orleans, albeit after the war was officially over.
But how many of us can answer a few simple questions?:
A. Who started the war?
B. How did the U.S. think it could win against the vastly superior British military?
C. Who won the war?
A. The U.S.
B. It thought it could waltz into Canada and take it over, thus stopping British provocations.
C. Nobody, although the U.S., by bankrupting itself, didn't exactly come out even.
The fact that the War of 1812 is largely skipped over in high school history classes is that the politics involved, I've learned, is hellishly complicated. (Just explaining how the Republican Party, instigators of the war, has evolved into the entirely different thing it is today would take about a full semester.)
Suffice it here to say that the War of 1812 had to be the dumbest war the country has ever started. Arguably, anyway.