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the rights of citizens of the United States or sailors of the United States were thus subjected to the will or caprice of any commander of any English war-vessel.
Under pretext of search for these British subjects, thousands of American citizens had been taken from their country, had been carried on board of English ships of war, subjected to the severest discipline, and compelled to fight England's battles.
Against such wrongs and outrages the United States had in vain remonstrated and expostulated, and the United States had gone so far as to offer to enter into an arrangement by which, if there were any British subjects in American vessels, they might, under proper restrictions, be delivered up.
In addition to this British ships of war had hovered along the American coast and harrassed American commerce. They had seized and searched American vessels and had in American harbors shed American blood in pursuance of these extraordinary and unlawful methods.
At every opportunity American commerce had been plundered on the seas and the staples of America had been cut off from all foreign markets.
England had taken the position that while she was at war with France all French allies or countries from which the British flag was excluded were subject to the same restrictions as if blockaded, and all vessels trading with these ports were subject to English capture and condemnation. This practically meant that England had entire domination of all oceans, and that commerce was forbidden and every vessel driven from the ocean unless sailing under the British flag.
Under this extraordinary claim many American vessels were seized, carried into English ports, and condemned as prizes of war, while others were compelled to cease their ocean trade, and the commerce of the United States was thus substantially destroyed.
To give effect to these demands American ports were blockaded and impressments made by British cruisers in American waters.
Again, Great Britain had continued to excite hostility among the American Indians against the United States, had supplied them with arms and munitions of war, and had openly and constantly encouraged savage assaults on the American frontier. It was also proven that England had sent agents secretly into the United States to disrupt the United States and to endeavor to have States secede from the Union while the two countries were negotiating an adjustment of their differences.
The American public mind had now become so fixed in its determination to resist English aggressions and wrongs that it would have been extremely difficult to longer restrain it. Therefore the Committee on Foreign Relations closed its report with these thrilling words:
Your Committee, believing that the freeborn sons of America are worthy to enjoy the liberty that their fathers purchased at the price of so much blood and treasure, and seeing in the measures adopted by Great Britain a course commenced and persisted in which might lead to the loss of national life and independence, feel no hesitation in advising resistance by force, in which the Americans of the present day will prove to the enemy and the world that they have not only inherited that liberty which our fathers gave us, but also the will and power to maintain it. Relying on the patriotism of the nation and confidently trusting that the Lord of Hosts will go with us to battle in a righteous cause and crown our efforts with success, your Committee recommend an appeal to arms.
War was declared by this act, passed on the 18th of June, 1812, which was immediately approved by the President, and on the 19th of June President Madison issued a proclamation of war.
In the Senate the vote stood nineteen for the war and thirteen against it, showing a very close division of public sentiment on the subject.
In the House there were ninety-eight yeas and sixtytwo nays.
New Hampshire voted three for the war, two against it.
Massachusetts, six for the war, eight against it.
Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Delaware were solidly against the war, while South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio were solidly for the war.
No war with so brief a duration was ever marked with more disasters or mistakes, and while these mistakes were not exclusively confined to the American armies a large proportion of them happened on the American side. The United States was not prepared for the war, but the conduct of England became so insulting and degrading