War of 1812french

Patrick Wilder and John Eisenhower, American Historians

Further Reading

Index of Historians

Some of the striking similarities between the War of 1812 and the Vietnam War

Wilder: People like to call this the second American Revolution, but I really prefer not to myself. I'd like to call it America's first Vietnam. For the simple reason that the Americans became embroiled in a conflict that brought dissension, that brought a great deal of consternation throughout American cities.

I think both sides were very happy to have that war ended, certainly the Americans were. The Americans were going broke, their New England shipping was a shambles. New England never ... New England almost seceded from the Union...at the Hartford Convention in 1814, that’s right. It was a war that everybody was, well sick of, and it was not the easy thing that some people had pictured at the beginning...America's first Vietnam...Yes, good analogy. Good analogy. We had always claimed before Vietnam that we'd never lost a war. Well, it's a question of definition, but if you... usually if your criterion is whether you obtained your objectives in a war, we lost that one as much as we lost Vietnam. We just came back to our own shores and that was the end of it. Painted differently.

I don't know whether we ever thought we'd win the Vietnam war with the back of our hand. Maybe we didn't even think we were in a war for a long time. But in both cases it was a question of getting out with peace and with honor. Well, we thought we'd done all right in Vietnam... you know... until 1975, when Hanoi ... when Saigon fell. We thought we'd pretty well accomplished our mission at that point, but we didn't. There's a lot of parallel.