June 18 - 1812 - The Declaration of the War of 1812
When James Madison signed off on Congress' Declaration of War against Great Britain, he had the United States of America officially take on the world's largest superpower. To be fair, Britain had been impressing American sailors into British service, limiting American trade, and encouraging Native American raids on American territories. Also, Britain was fairly well occupied with the Napoleonic Wars and could not devote full resources to War in North America. Madison also believed that the War would see American armies overwhelm the Canadian provinces. Instead, the War of 1812 began with a series of embarassments for the American armies, and it would only get worse. By 1814, the entire city of Washington would be burned, including the Capitol and the White House. Yet the course of the Napoleonic War turned in favor of the British, which meant that many of the causes for war disappeared as they were war measures against Napoleonic France. By late 1814, Britain agreed to terms with America at the Treaty of Ghent which saw no real change from before the war. Still, Madison had led America in a successful war against the British Empire, fulfilling a wish of the war's declaration.