The War of 1812 is an underrated turning point in American history, rivaling the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, and the two world wars. Indeed, the War of 1812 helped to launch the empire that manifested itself in those later conflicts. In its aftermath, America's rulers could believe that their continental and global ambitions, backed by the army and a global navy, were fully realizable. They just needed a government equal to the task.
It's not too much to say that modern America was born in 1812–1815, writes Sheldon Richman. The war had enduring illiberal domestic consequences beyond the immediate transgressions of taxes, debt, and trade embargoes, and dangerous precedents were set.