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The United States fought four major wars in the 1800s—the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, and the Spanish-American War. The War of 1812 lasted from 1812 through 1815. President James Madison asked Congress to declare war on Great Britain. The British were stopping and seizing American ships. They were also arming American Indians to fight against the Americans. As a result of this war, the nation’s trade was disrupted and the U.S. Capitol was burned. The Americans won the war. This was the first time after the Revolutionary War that America had to fight a foreign country to protect its independence. The Mexican-American War was a conflict between Mexico and America. The war began in Texas in 1846. President James Polk ordered General Zachary Taylor and his forces to occupy land claimed by both the United States and Mexico. President Polk believed westward expansion was important for the United States to grow. When Mexico attacked, the United States went to war with Mexico. When the war ended in February 1848, the United States and Mexico signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. This treaty gave Texas to the United States and extended the boundaries of the United States west to the Pacific Ocean. In the Civil War, the people of the United States fought against each other. Americans in the northern states fought to support the federal government (“the Union”) against Americans from the southern states. The southern states were trying to separate themselves to form a new nation, the Confederate States of America (“the Confederacy”). The war lasted from 1861 to 1865, when the Confederate army surrendered to the Union army. Many lives were lost in the American Civil War. In 1898, the United States fought Spain in the Spanish- American War. The United States wanted to help Cuba become independent from Spain because the United States had economic interests in Cuba. The war began when a U.S. battleship was sunk near Cuba. Many Americans believed it was the Spanish who attacked the ship. For this reason, America went to war with Spain. By the end of 1898, the war was over with a victory for the United States. Cuba had its independence, and Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines became territories of the United States.

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True of false: The War of 1812 arose because the British were stopping and seizing American ships. They were also arming American Indians to fight against the Americans. As a result of this war, the nation’s trade was disrupted and the U.S. Capitol was burned. The Americans won the war.
Select wars fought by the United States in the 1800s.
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* The reading text above is partially referred by USCIS Quick Civics Lessons “Learn About the United States” and only used for educational purposes.

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