is indeed without a parallel; and that of our country full of difficulties. The pressure of these too, is the more severely felt, because they have fallen upon us at a moment, when national prosperity being at a height not before attained, the contrast resulting from this change has been rendered the more striking. Under the benign influence of our republican institutions, and the maintenance of peace with all nations, whilst so many of them were engaged in bloody and wasteful wars, the fruits of a just policy were enjoyed in an unrivalled growth of our faculties and resources. Proofs of this were seen in the improvements of agriculture; in the successful enterprises of commerce ; in the progress of manufactures and useful arts; in the increase of the public revenue, and the use made of it in reducing the public debt; and in the valuable works and establishments everywhere multiplying over the face of our land.

"It is a precious reflection, that the transition from this prosperous condition of our country, to the scene which has for some time been distressing us, is not chargeable on any unwarrantable views, nor, as I trust, on any involuntary errors in the public councils, Indulging no passions which trespass on the lights or the repose of other nations, it has been the true glory of the United States to cultivate peace, by observing justice, and to entitle themselves to the respect of the nations at war, by fulfilling their neutral obligations with the most scrupulous impartiality. If there be candor in the world, the truth of these assertions

will not be questioned. Posterity at least will do justice to them.

"This unexceptionable course could not avail against the injustice and violence of the belligerent powers. In their rage against each other, or impelled by more direct motives, principles of retaliation have been introduced, equally contrary to universal reason and acknowledged law. How long their arbitrary edicts will be continued, in spite of the demonstrations, that not even a pretext for them has been given by the United States, and of the fair and liberal attempts to induce a revocation of them, cannot be anticipated. Assuring myself, that under every vicissitude, the determined spirit and united councils of the nation will be safeguards to its honor, and its essential interests, I repair to the post assigned me, with no other discouragement than what springs from my own inadequacy to its high duties. If I do not sink under the weight of this deep conviction, it is because I find some support in a consciousness of the purposes, and a confidence in the principles which I bring with me into this arduous service.

"To cheiish peace and friendly intercourse with all nations having correspondent dispositions; to maintain sincere neutrality towards belligerent nations; to prefer, in all cases, amicable discussions and reasonable accommodation of differences, to a decision of them by an appeal to arms; to exclude foreign intrigues and foreign partialities, so degrading to all countries and so baneful to free ones: to foster a Ch. VI.]

spirit of independence, too just to invade the rights of others, too proud to surrender our own, too liberal to indulge unworthy prejudices ourselves, and too elevated not to look down upon them in others; to hold the union of the states as the basis of their peace and happiness; to support the Constitution, which is the cement of the Union, as well in its limitations as in its authorities; to respect the rights and authorities reserved to the states and to the people, as equally incorporated with and essential to the success of the general system; to avoid the slightest interference with the rights of conscience or the functions of religion, so wisely exempted from civil jurisdiction; to preserve, in their fall energy, the other salutary provisions in behalf of private and personal rights, and of the freedom of the press; to observe economy in. public expenditures; to liberate the public resources by an honorable discharge of the public debts; to keep within the requisite limits a standing military force, always remembering, that an armed and trained militia is the firmest bulwark of republics, that without standing armies their liberty can never be in danger, nor, with large ones, safe; to promote, by authorized means, improvements friendly to agriculture, to manufactures, and to external as well as internal commerce; to favor, in like manner, the advancement of science and the diffusion of information, as the best aliment to true liberty; to carry on the benevolent plans which have been so meritoriously applied to the conversion of our aboriginal neighbors, from the degradation and wretch


edness of savage life, to a participation of the improvements of which the human mind and manners are susceptible in a civilized state:—as far as sentiments and intentions such as these can aid the fulfilment of my duty, they will be a resource which cannot fail me.

"It is my good fortune, moreover, to have the path in which I am to tread, lighted by examples of illustrious services, successfully rendered in the most trying difficulties, by those who have marched before me. Of those of my immediate predecessor, it might least become me here to speak; I may, however, be pardoned for not suppressing the sympathy with which my heart is full, in the rich reward he enjoys in the benedictions of a beloved country, gratefully bestowed for exalted talents, zealously devoted, through a long career, to the advancement of its-highest interests and happiness. But the source to which I look for the aids, which alone can supply my deficiencies, is in the well-tried intelligence and virtue of my fellow-citizens, and in the counsels of those representing them in the other departments associated in the care of the national interests. In these my confidence will, under every difficulty, be placed, next to that which we have all been encouraged to feel in the guardianship and guidance of that Almighty Being, whose power regulates the destiny of nations, whose blessings have been so conspicuously dispensed to this rising republic, and to whom we are bound to address our devout gratitude for the past, as well as our fervent supplications and best hopes for the future."


The oath of office was then administered to James Madison by Chief Justice Marshall, and the fourth president of the United States, warmly congratulated by a large circle of friends and political supporters, entered upon his responsible duties, not without hope that his administration might be prosperous and conducive to the best interests of the people of the United States.*

Immediately after his inauguration, the new president organized his cabinet. Robert Smith of Maryland, who had been secretary of the navy, was placed at the head of the department of state. Albert Gallatin retained the office of secretary of the treasury, and Caesar A. Rodney that of attorney-general. William Eustis, of Massachusetts, was made secretary of war; Henry Dearborn being transferred to the collectorship of the port of Boston. Paul Hamilton, who had been governor of South Carolina, was selected as secretary of the navy, in place of Robert Smith. Gideon Granger was continued as postmaster-general, although, as the reader will remember, this officer formed no part of the cabinet at this date.

The accession of James Madison to power took place at a critical period in our country's history. The progress of events had been such under Jefferson's administration, that war with

* Sullivan speaks of Madison as "a man of small stature and grave appearance," and says: "he had a calm expression, a penetrating blue eye, and looked like a thinking man. He was dressed in black; bald on the top of his head; powdered; of rather protuberant person in front; small lower limbs; slow and grave in speech."

Great Britain seemed to be inevitable. Not only France, but the great rival of France, entertained very inadequate views of the spirit and energy of the people of the United States, if once thoroughly roused. Washington had deemed it more prudent to put up with some injustice and much unfairness, in the then condition of affairs; and Jefferson, who was timid by nature, and well aware that he was not at all adapted for the executive chair in time of war, had allowed matters to arrive at such a pass, that it began to be thought that Americans had no spirit whatever, were mere mercenary traffickers, and would submit to any indignities, sooner than enter upon meas ures of self-defence at the expense of their trade and money-getting opportunities. England had never been satis.fied with the result of the Revolutionary War. She had ever since acted in an overbearing, offensive, and unhandsome style towards the growing republic of the west; and she had put forth claims and assertions, which it was impossible for any free people to submit to and retain its self-respect. And Fiance, under the grasping ambition of Napoleon, wished to treat the United States as a sort of ward of hers, as one bound to be subservient, and deeply impressed with sentiments of gratitude and admiration for past favors and present smiles of approval.

The country, it is true, was in no fitting condition to go to war. Mr. Jefferson's policy had nearly destroyed the navy, and preparations for defence against invasion were scandalously insufficient. War would be carried on Ch. VI.l MR. ERSKINE'S

ander every disadvantage, as respected finances, and the means of efficiently repelling attack. Yet, despite all these and kindred considerations, the people of the United States, as a people, were not at all unwilling then, any more than they have ever been since, to resort to arms in defence of their rights. The insolent assumptions of both England and France were borne with for a longer time than was, perhaps, called for; but when it began to be plainly seen, that these assumptions would not be removed without resort to battle, Americans were not long in letting it be understood, that they were not unready for the fight. It was impossible, not to say absurd, to suppose that this great nation of ours could subsist in a species of vassalage to England or France; and if neither of these powers could be induced to do us justice by peaceable means, why then we must assert our rights, and maintain our rights, by force of arms. There are crises in the history of nations, when there is no help for it; they must fight, or tamely submit to whatever superior force and haughty superciliousness may choose to prescribe. Such a crisis was fast approaching, when James Madison assumed the reins of government; and though war did not break out immediately, it was becoming evident to many, that war must come before long. We shall endeavor to narrate succinctly the several steps which led to the second war with Great Britain, from a careful consideration of which the reader will be able to judge for himself of the merits of the question, at one time hotly disputed, viz., respect


ing the necessity, the justice, and the policy of this war.

Congress, it will be remembered, just before its adjournment, (see p. 109,) determined upon the measure of refusing all commercial intercourse with both Great Britain and France. At the same time, it was declared, "that the president of the United States should be authorized, in case either France or Great Britain should so revoke or modify her edicts, as that they should cease to violate the neutral commerce of the United States, to declare the same by proclamation, after which the trade of the United States might be renewed with the government so doing."

Mr. David M. Erskine was the British minister at Washington at this date; and negotiations were carried on with great activity with a view (apparently) to the arrangement of the difficulties which had arisen between the two governments. Erskine, though not a very able diplomatist, was, nevertheless, sincerely desirous of effecting an accommodation; and he had received such assurances from Messrs. Smith, Gallatin, and Madison himself, before his inauguration as president, that he fully expected to be successful. In private conversations, we are told, Mr. Gallatin had even contrasted the dispositions of the retiring president and his successor; showing, that whilst the one had a leaning in favor of France the other was most inclined to the alliance of Great Britain. And the ambassador had, along with Gallatin, concerted some general scheme by which he persuaded himself all the trouble and suspicion pressing now so heavily on both countries would be removed.

On the 17th of April, Mr. Erskine addressed a letter to the secretary of state, in which he announced, that he had received instructions from Mr. Canning on the subjects then under discussion between the two nations. Considerable latitude was allowed to Erskine, and more than one course was pointed out to the United States, as satisfactory to the British government. But certain conditions were imperatively required, which it was supposed were due' to the honor of Britain, without infringing upon that justly claimed by America.

Generally, the proposals were; ships of war of both belligerents to be equally excluded from the American waters; disavowal of the orders issued by Admiral Berkeley; (but no other mark of displeasure than the recall to be asked;) the restoration of the men taken from the Chesapeake, and also, a proper provision for the families left by the men killed on board her, by the attack of the Leopard; disavowal by the American government of the purpose to infringe the British rights, national or personal, throughout

1.809* .

the whole of that affair; deserters, who were British-born, to be surrendered when claimed; the recall of the "orders in council," if the retaliatory acts of the United States government were rescinded in favor of Great Britain, but not in favor of France; if the colonial trade which was prohibited in time of peace, were not attempted in war time; and if Britain might enforce these conditions, when violated, in the usual way.

The result of the interviews and correspondence between Mr. Erskine and the secretary of state, appeared in the form of the adoption of a suggestion made by the British government, tr the effect, that, " a proclamation for the renewal of the intercourse with Great Britain" should be issued by the president, his majesty being "willing to withdraw his orders in council,"—and also purposing to send to the United States, "an envoy extraordinary, invested with full powers to conclude a treaty on all the points of the relations between the two countries." On the 19th of April, accordingly,—so rapidly was the negotiation conducted—the proclamation appeared, announcing the intended withdrawal of the offensive "orders," on the 10th of the following June, and the renewal of the trade with Great Britain, on the same day.

The news of this arrangement, as we may well believe, was received throughout the Union with the highest degree of gratification; and the general exultation furnished decisive evidence of the strong desire of all classes of persons to be at peace with Great Britain. Fresh activity was roused at once, and American vessels, in unusually large numbers, gladly ventured forth to avail themselves of renewed commercial intercourse with England.

The eleventh Congress, which had been summoned for a special session, in consequence of the critical position of the foreign relations of the country, assembled on the 22d of May. The federal strength was a little increased by the late elections; yet the republicans found no difficulty

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