However, they also argue otherwise, saying that "acquiring Canada would satisfy America's expansionist desires", also describing it as a key goal of western expansionists, who, they argue, believed that "eliminating the British presence in Canada would best accomplish" their goal of halting British support for Indian raids. They argue that the "enduring debate" is over the relative importance of expansionism as a factor, and whether "expansionism played a greater role in causing the War of 1812 than American concern about protecting neutral maritime rights."
During the War of 1812 the American government issued more than 500 letters of marque to captains eager to wield a sword (as long as they could edge it with looted gilt) against the British maritime fleet. More than 250 merchant ships of all types sailed from American harbors on one or more voyages through war’s end in early 1815, frequently with a cargo to deliver to foreign ports (usually in France or among French allies) but more than willing to snatch a prize if it appeared. Thus a bewildering array of hulls, rigs and armaments initially bedeviled the Royal Navy. Many raiders carried only one cannon (shots to the hull tended to reduce the value of a capture; damage to the rigging made it difficult for the prize to avoid recapture) and small arms. Combined with an extremely large crew (so that men could be spared as prize crews), few merchantmen, which were minimally crewed to reduce costs, risked resistance once “chaced” into gun range.