BALTIMORE - As a nation, the United States of America wasn't born when the Declaration of Independence was signed July 4, 1776. It didn't spring from the ashes of the American Revolution in 1783. It wasn't quite there when George Washington was elected the first president in 1788.
Rather, the nation finally took form in the throes of another war fought throughout and along North America's east coast and on the Great Lakes nearly 30 years after the Revolution. The War of 1812 (1812-1814) pitted the Americans against their former countrymen - the soldiers and sailors of Great Britain - and the war allowed the nascent country to achieve two lasting and profound victories.