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that honor to sleep over the •wrongs done us by France? On land, robberies, seizures, imprisonments, by French authority; at sea, pillage, sinkings, burnings, under French orders. These are notorious. Are they unfelt because they are French? Is any alleviation to be found in the correspondence and humiliations of the present minister-plenipotentiary of the United States, at the French court 1 In his communications to our government, as before the public, where is the cause for now selecting France as the friend of our country, and England as the enemy 1
If no illusions of personal feeling, and no solicitude for elevation of place, should be permitted to misguide the public councils; if it is, indeed, honorable for the true statesman to consult the public welfare, to provide, in truth, for the public defence, and impose no yoke of bondage; ought the government of this country, with full knowledge of the wrongs inflicted by the French, to aid the French cause by engaging in war against the enemy of France 1 To supply the waste of such a war, and to meet the appropriations of millions extraordinary for the war expenditures, must our fellow-citizens, throughout the Union, be doomed to sustain the burden of war-taxes in various forms of direct and indirect imposition 1 For official information respecting the millions deemed requisite for charges of the war, for like information respecting the nature and amount of taxes deemed requisite for drawing those millions from the community, it is here sufficient to refer to estimates and reports made by the secretary of the treasury, and the committee of ways and means, and to the body of resolutions passed in March last, in the House of Representatives.
It would bo some relief to our anxiety, if amends were likely to be made for the weakness and wildness of the project, by the prudence of the preparation. But in no aspect of this anomalous affair can we trace the great and distinctive properties of wisdom. There is seen a headlong rushing into difficulties, with little calculation about the means, and little concern about the consequences. With a navy comparatively nominal, we are about to enter into the lists against the greatest marine on the globe. With a commerce, unprotected and spread over every ocean, we propose to make profit by privateering, and for this endanger the wealth of which we are honest
proprietors. An invasion is threatened uf the colonies of a power, which, without putting a new ship into commission, or taking another soldier into pay, can spread alarm or desolation along the extensive range of our seaboard. The resources of our country, in their natural state, great beyond our wants or our hopes, are impaired by the effect of artificial restraints. Before adequate fortifications are prepared for domestic defence, before men or money are provided for a war of attack, why hasten into the midst of that awful contest, which is laying waste Europe 1 It cannot be concealed, that to engage in the present war against England, is to place ourselves on the side of France; and exposes us to the vassalage of states, serving under the banners of the French emperor.
The undersigned cannot refrain from asking, what are the United States to gain by this war t Will the gratification of some privateersmen compensate the nation for that sweep of our legitimate commerce, by the extended marine of our enemy, which this desperate act invites ] Will Canada compensate the middle states for New-York; or the western states for New-Orleans 1 Let us not be deceived. A war of invasion may invite a retort of invasion. When we visit the peaceable and, as to us, innocent colonies of Great Britian with the horrors of war, can we be assured that our own coast will not be visited with like horrors?
At a crisis of the world such as the present, and under impressions such as these, the undersigned could not consider the war in which the United States have, in secret, been precipitated, as necessary, or required by any moral duty, or any political expediency. (Signed,)
Ch. vnr.j Position Of The Country. 153
OPERATIONS OF THE YEAR 1812.
Position of the country at the declaration of war — Advantages and disadvantages — State of feeling in New England — Pulpit harangues — State of feeling in the middle and southern states — Riot in Baltimore — Enthusiasm in the west — Appointment of officers for the army — Difficulties in the way — Canada to be invaded — General Hull's force — Sets out for Detroit — Delay in informing him of the declaration of war — Enters Canada— His proclamation — His strange inactivity and vacillation — Fall of Mackinaw — Hull retreats to Detroit — British activity — Captain Brush's company —Vnnhorne defeated — Miller at Maguaga — Captain Heald evacuates Chicago — Expedition of Cass and M'Arthur — The British advance — Hull's surrender — Amazement and indignation of the country—Hull tried and condemned — Gallantry of the navy — The celebrated ehase of the Constitution by a British squadron — The Constitution captures the Guerriere — Exultation and pride of the country — Victory of the Wasp over the Frolic—Effects of the American gunnery — Decatur in the United States captures the Macedonian — The Constitution take3 the Java — Volunteer efforts in the north-west — Harrison in command— General Hopkins on the Wabash — Captain Zachary Taylor at Fort Harrison — Other expeditions in the west — Van Rensselaer at Lewiston — Determines to attack Qucenstown — Exploits of Captain Wool — The battle — Disgraceful conduct of the militia on the American shore — The British victorious at the last — General Smyth's vainglorious attempt — Its result — Other efforts to do something — General Dearborn nnd his course — Absurd and vexatious conclusion — Estimate of the campaign of 1812.
Thus was our country a second time in arms against England. Angered, smarting under a sense of long-continued outrage and wrong; conscious of ability to assert their just rights, the larger portion of the United States threw down the gauntlet, and resolved to hazard their all in defence
of their liberties and their claim to independence among the nations of the earth.
In many respects, our country was more favorably situate than at the commencement of the Revolutionary War. The population had considerably more than doubled. National resources had been largely developped. A settled government was in effective operation. National pride had grown and inVol. III.—20
creased. Americans deemed themselves the equals of the oldest and haughtiest nations of the old world. And however absurd it might have seemed, on a calm review of the relative power and position of England and the United States, for the latter to venture single-handed upon the deadly struggle, Americans did no;t hesitate: with a sort of self-reliant audacity, they counted themselves a host, and deemed no odds sufficient to fright them from the tented field and the bloody conflict.
There was unquestionably zeal and spirit enough in our countrymen for this emergency. There was courage enough, strong hands and stout hearts enough; but, it must be confessed, there was Do adequate preparation for the'
contest with so powerful an enemy as England. Neither in men, nor in officers; neither in the executive, nor his cabinet; neither in the financial provisions, nor in regard to the nature and character of the war, was there the proper foresight, the just conception, the needful training, the fitting, ability for the vigorous and successful prosecution of hostilities against the neighboring colonies of England by land, or her vast and terrible array of ships of war on the sea. The haughty mistress of the ocean had her thousand floating castles, which proudly bore aloft the royal flag; and innumerable cruisers and privateers were ready in every sea to pounce upon the defenceless American commerce; while the entire naval force of the United States, in ordinary or in building, was only eight frigates and twelve sloops !*
But even this disparity of force, this confessedly insufficient preparation for war in nearly every respect, was not the worst feature in the then position of affairs. The rage of party feelings; the discords and bitter feuds of democrats and federalists; the lack of unanimity and concord in meeting the foe,—were serious and dreadful obstacles in the way of those
* In 1812, says Mr. Cooper, the navy of Great Britain nominally contained a thousand and sixty sail, of which between seven and eight hundred were efficient cruising vessels, and the state of things was such in Europe, that she was able to send as many ships as she thought necessary against the Americans. The navy—if we may use the term—of the United States, according to the same authority, consisted of but seventeen cruising vessels on the ocean, of which nine were of a class less than frigates.—See Cooper's "Naval History" voL ii., p. 40.
who had brought about the declaration of war and were determined to carry it on at all hazards. Boston, so illustrious in the Revolutionary struggle, now scouted and denounced the second war against England, and the flags of her shipping were hoisted at half-mast when the news came to her, in token of mourning and humiliation. All New England resounded with the bitterest denunciations of the executive and the war party. The state legislatures, the merchants, the lawyers, the wealth and the talent of this portion of our country fiercely arrayed themselves against the administration and its measures; and many of the New England ministers, who thought themselves called upon to be guides in politics as well as religion, indulged in a style and violence of invective which has no parallel elsewhere in history. A specimen or two of their diatribes may not improperly be here quoted.
"It is a war," exclaimed one ardent beater of the "drum ecclesiastic," "unexampled in history; proclaimed on the most frivolous and groundless pretences; let no consideration whatever deter my brethren, at all times and in all places, from execrating the present war. Mr. Madison has declared it, let Mr. Madison carry it on. If you do not wish to become the slaves of those who are slaves, and are themselves the slaves of French slaves, you must cut the connection, or so far alter the Constitution as to secure yourselves a share in the government. The Union has been long since virtually dissolved, and it is high time that this part of the disunited states should take care of itself." Ch. VIII.] RIOT IN B
"Should the English now be at liberty to send all their armies and all their ships to America," cried another. "and in one day burn every city from Maine to Georgia, your condescending rulers would play on their harps, while they gazed on the tremendous conflagration." And again, even more furiously shouted a third, "What sooty slave in all the Ancient Dominion more obsequiously watched the eye of his master, and flew to the indulgence of his desires more servilely, than those same masters have waited, and watched, and obeyed, the orders of the great Napoleon?" "How will the supporters of this anti-Christian warfare endure their sentence—endure their own reflections—endure the fire that forever burns—the worm which
never dies—the hosannas of heaven, while the smoke of their torments ascends forever and ever ?"* No wonder if, under such harangues as these must have been, New England arrayed herself against the war, and did every thing in her power to oppose and harass the administration.f
* See Ingersoll's "History of the Second War," voL i., pp. 52-56.
t Mr. Dwight gives the correspondence between the authorities at Washington and the governor of Connecticut, in which are considered the grounds of the latter's refusal to allow the militia to leave the state. Mr. Dwight further says: "In July, 1812, the governor of Massachusetts issued a general order to the militia of that state, in which, after some preliminary remarks on the state of the country, and directing that the detachment of ten thousand men should be completed without delay,—it is added,—that as that body of men, being to be raised throughout the state, could not bo assembled to repel a sudden invasion, and it would bo extremely burdensome to keep them constantly in service, and if they were assembled they would not bo adequate to the defence of the exposed points of a coast of several hundred miles in extent,--it was ordered,
In the middle and southern states, there was greater diversity of sentiment on this subject. Some, if not many, disapproved of the war; but the majority undoubtedly were in favor of prosecuting it with vigor and energy. The strong feeling of those who supported, the views of the war party was manifested, in one case, in a very violent and scandalous manner. It appears that at Baltimore, there was a newspaper, called "The Federal Gazette," the editor of which, not only ardently advocated the views of his party, but also indulged in veiy free strictures upon the administration and its course in regard to the war. This was on the 20th of June: the same evening, his office was mobbed, and his whole establishment destroyed. Some weeks afterwards, Hanson, the editor, endeavored to re-establish his paper, hoping that the law would protect him and his property; but fearing renewed assaults, he fortified his house, and aided
by Generals Henry Lee and Lingan, Revolutionary officers, he determined to resist aggression by force. On the 27th of July, the mob again attacked Hanson's establishment; blood was shed; and the occupants of the house were persuaded by the mayor, as the only means of saving their lives, to surrender and go to jail, to answer charges against them. The next night the jail was broken open, and the prisoners shamefully abused and maltreated.
that the officers of the whole militia of the state hold themselves, and the militia under their command, in constant readiness to assemble and march to any part or parts of the state."—"History of the Hartford Convention,'" p. 269.
General Lingan died of the tortures he underwent; General Lee was lamed for life; and others escaped only by feigning to be dead. The city authorities plainly connived at these outrages, and the whole blame was thrown upon Hanson and his friends, for daring to defy "the democratic sentiment of Baltimore !"*
It was in the great west, however, that the war spirit prevailed over all opposition; and the stalwart denizens of that section of our country, were ready, to a man, to fight for the cause of liberty and equal rights. AVith them, enthusiasm and the love of country glowed in every bosom, and they were eager for the call to the battlefield.f Conscious of the dangers to which the frontier was exposed from savage incursions; fully persuaded that England was engaged in the mean and detestable occupation of inciting the Indians to murderous hostility; and with imaginations fired with the prospect of conquering Canada, and expelling the enemy from the continent; the people of the west entered heart and soul into the contest, and suffered not
* The reaction caused by this vile spirit of moboo racy, produced a change in the politics of Maryland.
t That distinguished federalist, John Jay, in reply to some inquiries on the subject of the war, expressed his views frankly and straightforwardly. (For John Adams's opinion, see p. 148.) Under date of July 28th, 1812, he wrote to a friend: "As the war has been constitutionally declared, the people are evidently bound to support it in the manner which constitutional laws do or shall prescribe. In my opinion, the declaration of war was neither necessary, nor expedient nor seasonable; and I think that they who entertain this opinion do well in expressing it, both individually and collectively, on this very singular and important occasion."—"Life of John Jay" voL i., p. 443.
a doubt to enter their minds that victory would crown their patriotic efforts.
In looking back upon the zeal and spirit which animated our countrymen at this date, we may well give expression to the regret, that, not only was there very culpable negligence in the making proper preparation for the war, but also that the material out of which to choose officers of the higher grade was so scanty, and, for the most part, of so little value. Madison, as we have said, was utterly averse to war in any shape, and no one of his cabinet had either experience or ability to make up for his deficiencies. At first, he thought of appointing Henry Clay as commander-in-chief; but that eloquent Kentuckian was not acquainted with military science at all, and he was wanted in the House of Representatives. The president then sought among the survivors of the Revolution for a suitable head to the army, and Henry Dearborn, a major in the first war, and one of Mr. Jefferson's cabinet, was made commander-in-chief. With him were associated, as brigadier-generals, James Wilkinson, Wade Hampton, William Hull, and Joseph Bloomfield. The president also appointed Thomas Pinckney a major-general. In the case of these officers, it was soon after discovered, that age and long cessation from military toils and activity would seriously interfere with their being able to prosecute hostilities with vigor and reasonable prospect of success. Then too, although Congress had authorized the enlistment of twenty-five thousand men, it was found impossible to fill up the ranks from the few who felt any