The War of 1812
Duck! Life on the Sidelines of a War

Duck! Life on the Sidelines of a War
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 7 to 9
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.25

     challenging words:    chiefly, crossfire, no-win, neutrality, embargo, peaceable, coercion, greatly, decree, launched, dignity, brutal, ongoing, forbidden, seize, presidency
     content words:    Some American, Continental System, Royal Navy, Some Americans, President Jefferson, Both France, And Britain, James Madison, President Madison

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Duck! Life on the Sidelines of a War
By Toni Lee Robinson

1     From 1803 to 1814, France and Britain fought with each other. Some American merchants were pleased with this ongoing battle. In the beginning, the war was a wonderful means of making money. U.S. products, chiefly food, found thriving markets in the warring countries. This meant that American businessmen prospered.
2     The U.S. was a neutral nation, not taking sides in the conflict. America's ships crossed the seas taking goods to Britain and France. They returned with money for U.S. merchants. It was a businessman's dream come true. But the good times didn't last. In a war, the sidelines may not be a very safe place.
3     The European war got nastier. Even neutral nations became victims of the war between France and Britain. The two nations looked for any way to batter each other. Both saw America's ships as a way to deal a blow to the enemy. Each country tried to prevent supplies from reaching the other by way of American shipping.
4     In 1806, Napoleon of France put in place his Continental System. This decree claimed for France the right to seize ships from any nation that traded with Britain. British authorities fired back with their own decree. Britain issued what it called "orders in council." These orders called for the seizure of any vessel that visited the ports of France without first stopping at a British port. By 1807, the Royal Navy had completely blockaded French ports.
5     Napoleon then declared that all ships that obeyed the orders in council were fair game for seizure by his navy. So ships that obeyed Britain's orders were seized by France. Ships that ignored the orders were seized by Britain. It was a no-win game. U.S. merchants lost over 1500 ships and cargos to the two rivals. What could be done to stop the insults to American dignity and the loss of property? Some Americans wanted war with Britain, the chief offender on the high seas.

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