Burning the White House.

Discussion in 'World History' started by Trafalgar, Oct 2, 2005.

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Should Britain apologize for burning the White House

  1. Yes.

    2 vote(s)
    2.2%
  2. Yes and pay reparations.

    1 vote(s)
    1.1%
  3. No. Its history.

    41 vote(s)
    45.6%
  4. No. They deserved it.

    20 vote(s)
    22.2%
  5. I didn't Know they did that.

    2 vote(s)
    2.2%
  6. It didn’t happen.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  7. Way to go Great Britain.

    14 vote(s)
    15.6%
  8. The U.S. can kick British butt now.

    6 vote(s)
    6.7%
  9. This poll is anti-American.

    1 vote(s)
    1.1%
  10. This poll is anti-British.

    3 vote(s)
    3.3%
  1. Hornblower

    Hornblower Cry Havoc!

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    Correct Nelson didn't take and burn Denmark.

    Nelsons action sinking the fleet at Copenhagen came quite a few years earlier. Incidentally Nelson was completely opposed to be ordered to sink the fleet at Copenhagen. Like all good professional military men though he kept his political opinions to himself and carried out his orders from the government of the day as their military instrument.
     
  2. Ancient Grudge

    Ancient Grudge Its all in this life

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    Actually the General in command of His Britannic Majesty's Army in Denmark was Sir William Cathcart not Sir Arthur Wellesley (as he was still known then).

    It was Denmarks right not to put their navy in British protective custody, and the bombardment was verging on criminal killing 1,600 civilans in three days bombardment.
     
  3. Hornblower

    Hornblower Cry Havoc!

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    The motives behind the attack were to ensure that the fleet and the country as a whole would not be lost to an alliance with an undesireable power. Whether the choice to attack was criminal or not is a point of conjecture. I am sure that the government of the day didn't see it that way. The military forces involved were simply following their governments orders and shouldn't be considered criminals as such. It is also funny to note that Napolean installed his brother as puppet ruler. He became incredibly popular and eventually split with the Napoleanic ideal.
    In fact a nice parallel can be drawn with the invasion of Iraq by the US. The military involved didn't necessarily agree with the decision and in many cases the higher command actually discouraged it. Once their CINC had made the decision though they had to carry out the orders much the same as Nelson and the army some years later.
     
  4. storealex

    storealex In service of peace

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    That's bull. As the Nurnberg trials clearly stated, being ordered to do something is not an excuse to kill civilians in abundance.

    And of course the act was criminal. Denmark was neutral, and planned to continue being that. The last thing it wanted was to be squashed like a cockroach between England and France. England however, forced it into the war on the wrong side.
    I do not care about apologies, after all it is history. However, just because it is history does not make it right, when in fact it was wrong. I don't want Brits to say they're sorry, for something they could not influence since they were not born at that time, but neither do I want you to justify declaring war on a neutral country, attacking it and terrorbombing it's capital!
     
  5. privatehudson

    privatehudson The Ultimate Badass

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    My personal feelings on the matter is that 1801 was more than justified, and 1807 would have been alright had they gone about it differently. The British didn't want to leave even the chance (regardles of how small that was) that the Danish fleet could be captured and used by Napoleon to rebuild his naval forces. On a purely practical viewpoint attacking and destroying the Danish fleet ensured this would not happen, and though it drove the Danes into the French camp this wasn't relevent to the British as Denmark would no longer be significant.

    My problem with the events is the way it was carried out. Firstly we should have declared war prior to the attack and secondly we should never have targetted civilian buildings. Take away those two things and the event would merely have been one more incident of the British throwing their naval weight around because we could and because we felt it was needed. Attacking a neutral isn't so much a crime really if you declare intentions first.

    Denmark was in a crappy position like virtually every country in Europe at the time who didn't want to join in either side of the wars. Unfortunately neither France nor Britain were inclined to let countries just stay neutral.
     
  6. Hornblower

    Hornblower Cry Havoc!

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    Yes I am talking purely about the naval action of 1801.
    The battle was due to multiple failures of diplomacy in the latter half of 1800 and the beginning of 1801. Armed Neutrality of the Scandinavian countries and Russia, in combination with Napoleon's domination of the European continent, was perceived by Great Britain as a serious threat to existence. Whether or not that threat was valid is irrelevant. The British honestly felt threatened and felt that the naval action was the best way to neutralise the threat.
    The Danish-Norwegians had refused to negotiate. They had prepared for a possible attack and placed a line of defensive blocking ships along the western side of the harbour.
    The British seeing no option decided to sink the fleet. This was the 1801 version of a precision strike. It was a denial raid. Removing the fleet took away a possiblity from Napoleans planners. It wasn't his fleet but the British felt that he could have confiscated it by force. Whether this may have occurred is irrelevant. The British at the time genuinely thought that it might happen.
    It is true that at the end of the battle extensive shelling of the harbour and nearby buildings occured. Nelson offered surrender terms to which the Danish-Norwegians agreed. This was inexcusable but drove home the point that the fleet was beaten and the city could just as easily be turned to rubble. This way of thinking was what prevailed in that day. These days we like to think of ourselves as slightly more civilised. I don't excuse it but hardly think that it can be ranked up there with the Nuremberg testimonials.



    The fact that the harbour
     
  7. storealex

    storealex In service of peace

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    So Hudson, you believe it was justified to attack a neutral country, simply because you thought it might one day turn against you? Do you think those rules of engaments do still apply?
    Besides it was a stupid theory. Denmark would never give up it's neutrality, We had already lost half the Kingdom on adventures like that. And Napoleon could not have forced us to hand over our fleet. He could only have invaded Jutland, but previous wars had already shown that an ocupied Jutland could not force the surrender of Copenhagen. Only a strong navy could, and only Britain had one left. Ergo was the British theory paranoid.

    That would have been wrong, from a practical view, since it was also a Denmark unprepared for war that gave you such an easy victory.

    Hornblower, I see we have a misunderstanding. Im talking about both 1801 and 1807. The first was merely unjustified, the second both immoral and didn't make sense (Britain feared the Danish navy, but the Danish army was posistioned at the German border to protect it against a possible French attack. If we were planning to attack you with our navy, why would we leave it defenseless at Copenhagen, with our army ready to fight your enemies?)

    Finally, as if this whole escapade was not enough, the peace conditions you offered us in 1814 were extremely harsh. Especially since you were the ones forcing us into the war in the first place.

    Oh and to ancient grudge, hate to nitpick but:
    Actually, more than 2000 civilians dies and one third of the city was destroyed.
     
  8. privatehudson

    privatehudson The Ultimate Badass

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    I don't believe it's anything particularly criminal about invading someone to force their hand it is what I meant. I wouldn't have done it myself but I don't think it was exactly beyond the norms of the period to do so.

    Besides, I don't think it was purely because they might have turned against us, I think it was also because neither side in the Napoleonic wars would accept the theory of Neutrality of a power for long, especially if that country had a significant effect on the wars by it's actions or existence. Britain and France were engaged in a trade war, and with the Danish fleet still in existence it gave the Danes the opportunity to circumvent British trade blockades should they wish to. As we've seen with the USA this was a major issue for the British. It's similar to Napoleon invading Russia due to her refusal to co-operate with the Continental System.

    Both sides demonstrated an attitude kind of like two divorced parents trying to force their children to choose who they loved the most. There simply was no option as far as France and Britain were concerned of not choosing, you were either for or against them, and if you tried to ignore this they'd take whatever action they felt was appropriate. In a very real sense the two sides saw a refusal to fight alongside or directly support them as tantamount to being against them.

    As for justified, I think the concept of putting Denmark beyond a threat economically and militarily was justified according to the attitudes of the period. I neither would have done it, nor do I like that we did it, nor do I think the methods used were justified.

    I don't agree with using them now either but they have been used yes. I merely understand why the British would take the action, I do not think we should have.

    This would all be an excellent point if the British reasoning was based purely on the worry of Denmark joining the French. I suspect British theory was closer to what I mentioned above, and though no doubt influenced by a fear of what Napoleon might do if he laid his hands on the fleet, this was by no means the only reason for the events of 1807.

    Even if it was paranoia from the British it was still well within normal practice within that period to start a conflict based on the suspicion of a threat, even if it didn't make sense. Because frankly the excuse for most wars back then didn't make a whole lot of sense.

    The point is taken, however it would have assauged the anger at the attack somewhat had the Danes known it was coming. However I still would have concentrated on destroying Military and Government buildings until such time as the Danes came to acceptable terms.
     
  9. storealex

    storealex In service of peace

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    Well you aren't such a badguy after all...
     
  10. Louis XXIV

    Louis XXIV Le Roi Soleil

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    I tend to agree with this assesment (even as an American). We try to justify it being a draw since most of our demands were eventually met (although most of them were instituted by Britain to prevent neutral shipping from aiding Napoleon, who had been defeated before the war ended anyway). Also, Britain didn't have enough men to man their entire fleet (during the war, America had a much better manned fleet, however small it was). Britain began taking sailors from British merchant ships and extended the same to American ships under the justification that there were deserters (not that this justifies their actions, just explains them. Like I said, the defeat of Napoleon ended these, not the actions of America).

    The burning of Washington was part of a British plan to invade American coastal settlements to prove they could and than withdraw since they couldn't hold them (there might have been a better point, I can't remember it, though). But often times people who owned guns would just fire a shot from their home, even after the city surrendered, which was against accepted practices (but, than again, so was setting a ship on fire and sending it out to try and burn the British ships, or, in the eyes of Americans, to use rockets). Often times, if a home had no one in it, the British would destroy it, assuming that the owners had abandoned the city to join a group outside and attack. After some destruction of property, many cities sent assurances that there was no one inside that carried a gun and would fire on them.

    But I think the burning of the capital itself was for more than just someone opening fire on them. It had a much higher symbolic importance.

    Incidentally, the war of 1812 could have been won by America if Jefferson hadn't cut back so much on military spending. Also, there were a few political reasons motivating military actions (York was attacked instead of Kingston because it was easier and would allow a Democratic-Republican to win the New York governor's race). Still, the Battle of Baltimore is a great example of a citizen army rising to defend itself against a foreign power (and was the complete opposite of the battle that led to the burning of Washington in every way). Also, it led to the Star Spangle Banner ;)

    BTW, I don't care if Britain gives an apology, I'm actually suprised there are people who do.
     
  11. Evie

    Evie Pronounced like Eevee

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    *shudders* I think Britain should apologize to the world for getting the Star-Spangled Banner written ;-).
     
  12. silver 2039

    silver 2039 Deity

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    This is bull****. There is no such thing as right and wrong or "justification".
    There is only those who have Power and those that do not.
     
  13. EnglishPunk

    EnglishPunk Chieftain

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    Maybe if we got the SAS in red coats and did it again then we could give an apology for something which is relavent.

    On behalf of my nation though I am really sorry about that Star-Spangled Banner being written....
     
  14. silver 2039

    silver 2039 Deity

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    You better be....:mad: What a horrible National Anthem.
     
  15. DAv2003

    DAv2003 Prince

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    Meh, at least you don't have 'God save the king/queen' when we should have 'Rule Brittania' 'Jerusalem' or 'Land of hope and glory'.
     
  16. Enkidu Warrior

    Enkidu Warrior Ultramagnetic

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    We haven't apologized for raping most of the world for the glory of our Empire yet. In fact much of the British establishment still celebrates this. Burning a building of minor historical importance is rather low on the list of our crimes.
     
  17. EnglishPunk

    EnglishPunk Chieftain

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    Yea but lets face it my fellow brits for all the crimes we did thats the one we still have a slight smile about when no ones looking.......
     
  18. Evie

    Evie Pronounced like Eevee

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    When no Americans are looking, you mean.

    The rest of the world is more likely to applaud you than anything else over that particular "crime" :p
     
  19. Kal'thzar

    Kal'thzar Deity

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    God Save Our Gracious Queen,

    etc etc etc

    last Stanza (of 6)

    Lordd Grant that MArshal Wade
    May by thy mighty aid
    Victory bring.
    May he sedition hush
    And like a torrent rush,
    Rebellious Scots to crush
    God save the Queen!

    It makes me proud to be a scot to have a national anthem dedicated to us :lol:
     
  20. DAv2003

    DAv2003 Prince

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    Wasn't there a section of the American National Anthem which said the same thing about the English?
     

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