The indispensable Library of America has produced a valuable collection of documents and contemporary accounts of the War of 1812. The war was ostensibly fought over British attempts to restrict U.S. trade and force sailors on American-flagged vessels into service in the British Royal Navy. It was, however, vehemently opposed by most U.S. trading and mercantile interests and was most strongly supported by farmers and other interior dwellers. One of the many merits of this volume is that, through speeches and accounts of official meetings, readers are able to see the war through the eyes of the defeated -- and there was no group for whom the War of 1812 was a worse disaster than Native Americans. Ultimately deserted by their British allies, the Native American tribes who lived between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River suffered a series of defeats at the hands of American forces that left them defenseless before the accelerating tide of settlement along the frontier.
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