While the War of 1812 was not fought in Tennessee, it was a defining event in the state's history. For the first time, the military and political savvy of Tennesseans was front and center. Congressman Felix Grundy, a Nashville lawyer, and his fellow "War Hawks" were largely responsible for pushing America toward a declaration of war.
Early fighting was concentrated on the Canadian border but soon spread to the "lower country," with battles raging in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. When President James Madison called for volunteers, Tennessee answered the call in a big way‚ earning the state's nickname, "The Volunteer State."
Tennesseans made names for themselves fighting in the Creek War (1813-1814), giving their new country a boost of military confidence when campaigns against the British were going badly.
The War of 1812 was, ultimately, Andrew Jackson's war. His stubborn determination earned him the name "Old Hickory." And his sensational 1815 victory against the invading British fleet in the Battle of New Orleans was regarded as the greatest victory of the war. Even though the war was technically over, the combatants had not yet received news of the Treaty of Ghent. While the American victory did not change the terms of the treaty, the Battle of New Orleans did force the British to abide by its terms.
The Battle of New Orleans catapulted Jackson into the national spotlight. His subsequent success in the First Seminole War made him Florida's military governor; he returned to the Senate and was nominated for president. Although he won the popular vote, no candidate received a majority, and the House of Representatives elected John Adams president. Many Americans, believing that the "man of the people" had lost out to corrupt power brokers, continued to support Jackson, and he was elected president in 1828, reelected in 1832.
To learn more about Tennesseans and their contributions to the War of 1812, visit these interesting historic sites.