How the Embargo of 1813 Affected New England

Despite Federalist protests against the war, New England’s economy prospered.  Enterprising New Englanders profited by smuggling goods to the British in Canada.  Madison was outraged.  He reported to Congress on December 9, 1813:

The tendency of our commercial and navigation laws…favor the enemy…Supplies of the most essential kinds find their way…to British ports and British armies…Even the fleets and troops infesting our coasts and waters are by like supplies accommodated and encouraged in their predatory and incursive warfare.”[1]

                                                                             James Madison

 

Madison’s motives for a new embargo remain unclear.  Other laws prohibited contact with the enemy.  An embargo would have little effect on the British.  Congress, nevertheless, approved it.[2]

The Embargo of 1813, passed December 17, 1813, banned American ships and their cargoes from departure.  It outlawed certain British products from importation.  It barred a foreign ship from entering American ports unless three-quarters of its crew were from the nation it represented.  It forbade the ransom of ships.

The Embargo spurred New England once again into action.  Forty New England towns held meetings, resulting in addresses to the Massachusetts legislature, the General Court.[3]

How Napoleon’s Defeat at Leipzig Affected War in the United States

Look for it Monday, July 28

 

 

[1]James Madison’s address to Congress, December 9, 1813, quoted in Henry Adams, History of the United States of America During the Administrations of James Madison (New York: Literary Classics of the United States, 1986) 873.

[2] Adams, History…Administrations James Madison, 874.

[3] Adams, History…Administrations James Madison, 909.

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How the Peace Party Failed

 

Noah Webster’s friends tried to broaden the scheme for a convention.  They proposed a state-wide convention in Massachusetts.   Federalist Party leaders knew the Massachusetts senate would never approve of a convention.  It had a Democratic-Republican majority.[1]

Instead, they backed DeWitt Clinton as a “peace party” candidate.  Clinton had pledged to seek peace if elected.  In September 1812, Federalists met in a clandestine convention to propose Clinton.[2]

The movement toward a peace party and a peace candidate failed when Clinton was narrowly defeated by James Madison.  Clinton needed just nineteen more electoral votes.  Had Pennsylvania supported Clinton, he would have won.[3]

This was the fourth time Federalists supported a candidate who was defeated.  Working with the moderate Federalists within the Massachusetts state government brought no results.  Federalists opposing Madison, the war and the use of Massachusetts’ state militia for national defense had to look outside the state government.[4]

Next:  How the Embargo of 1813 Affected New England’s Federalists

Look for it Monday, July 21

 

 

[1]James M. Banner, Jr. To the Hartford Convention:  The Federalists and the Origins of Party Politics in Massachusetts 1789-1815, (New York:  Alfred A. Knopf 1970) 310-312.

[2] Banner, To the Hartford Convention 311-2.

[3] Banner, To the Hartford Convention, 312-3.

[4] Banner, To the Hartford Convention, 313-4.

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What Noah Webster Had Already Done

Noah Webster had proposed a convention to Governor Strong.  Cautiously, Strong brought Webster’s idea to his council, controlled by the Federalists.  The council shelved Webster’s proposal.  They favored a more cautious approach.  They advocated Federalists hold conventions in the counties.  Each locality was to send memorials to Madison and Congress denouncing the war.[1]

Their caution was well advised.  Democratic-Republicans held the Massachusetts senate.  As representatives of Madison’s party, they would thwart any attempts at a convention.[2]

Moderate Federalists had their eye on the autumn elections.  They proposed  a “peace party,” nominating a Democratic-Republican to run against Madison.  They favored DeWitt Clinton, who had privately assured them that he would pursue peace if elected.  [1]

How the Peace Party Failed

Look  for it Monday, July 14.

[1] James M. Banner, Jr.  To the Hartford Convention:  The Federalists and the Origins of Party Politics in Massachusetts 1789-1815, (New York:  Alfred A. Knopf)  310.

[2]  Banner, Jr. in To the Hartford Convention , 310-11. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How New Englanders Reacted to the War with Britain (continued)

Governor Strong, and clerics Elijah Parish and John Gardiner were not the only ones to object to war with Britain. They were in touch with public opinion.  By August of 1812, New England was rocked by protests:

“Our common interests, liberties and safety are now more injured, oppressed and endangered, by the doings of our own National Government, than they were when in 1775 we took arms to protect and defend them against the measures of the government of Great Britain.”[1]

                                                                             Essex County Federalist

New Englanders reconsidered disunion.  They saw no need to help the war effort.  Federalists revived plans for a convention.  Thomas Dawes, a prominent Massachusetts politician, hinted at this in a letter to Noah Webster, the well-known lexicographer and political writer:

“There is but one way left to save us from the yoke of Bonaparte and Virginia, the rising of the New England people.  I mean nothing illegal or unconstitutional; I do not mean a Whiskey rebellion or any thing like it.  You know what I mean, and tho’ late, I think with you it is not too late.”[2]

Next:  What Noah Webster had already done       

Look for it Monday, July 7                                            

 

[1] Quoted by James M. Banner, Jr. in To the Hartford Convention:  The Federalists and the Origins of Party Politics in Massachusetts 1789-1815, (New York:  Alfred A. Knopf)  307-8.

[2] Thomas Dawes to Noah Webster, quoted by Banner in To the Hartford Convention, 308.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How New Englanders Reacted to the War of 1812

Massachusetts Governor Caleb Strong urged New Englanders to fast.  Touching on his region’s roots in English history he denounced the war “against the nation from which we are descended, and which for many generations has been the bulwark of the religion we profess.”[1]

Congregationalist clergyman Elijah Parish preached, “proclaim an honourable neutrality; let the southern Heroes fight their own battles and guard…against the just vengeance of their lacerated slaves…Break those chains, under which you have sullenly murmured, during the long, long reign of democracy;….and once more breathe that free, commercial air of New England which you fathers always enjoyed…Protest did I say, protest?  Forbid this war to proceed in New-England”[2]

Congregationalist churches in New England were not the only ones to protest.  John Gardiner, an Episcopal priest from Boston preached “…[either] cut the connexion” [with the South] “or so far alter the national constitution, as to ensure yourselves a due share in the government.”  He added “…this portion of the disunited states should take care of itself…The time has arrived when common prudence is pusillanimity, and moderation has ceased to be a virtue.”[3]

How New Englanders Reacted to War with Britain (continued)
Look for it Monday, June 30

 

[1] James M. Banner, Jr. To the Hartford Convention:  The Federalists and the Origins of Party Politics in Massachusetts 1789-1815, (New York:  Alfred A. Knopf)  306-7.

[2] Banner, To the Hartford Convention,  307.

[3] Banner, To the Hartford Convention,  307.

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Who Were “War Hawks” Peter Buell Porter and John C. Calhoun

Peter Buell Porter (1773-1844) was the only War Hawk born in New England, in Salisbury Connecticut.  In 1791 he graduated from Yale, and studied law in Connecticut with Judge Tapping Reeve.   In 1795 he moved to Canandaigua, New York.  Originally he was a Federalist.  He became disillusioned with the party during the election of 1800.   He joined the Democratic-Republicans.  In 1804 he supported Aaron Burr with Timothy Pickering and Roger Griswold in the gubernatorial race in New York State.  The winner of that election, Morgan Lewis, moved to strip Porter of a clerking post he held.   Porter became a land speculator in the upstate New York Niagara frontier.  In 1808, back in politics, he was elected to the House of Representatives.  Henry Clay was his mentor.  Porter joined the War Hawks, urging war with Great Britain. Once the United States declared war, Porter served in the New York militia, distinguishing himself and earning a gold medal from Congress.  He was re-elected to Congress in 1814.[1]

John Caldwell Calhoun (1782-1850) was, like most of the War Hawks, a youthful thirty year old serving in Congress as a representative from South Carolina in 1812.  His parents were slave owners on the South Carolina frontier.  They  recognized his intellectual abilities, and sent him to Yale University in 1802.  Like Peter Buell Porter, he studied law with Judge Tapping  Reeve.  Under Henry Clay’s direction, Calhoun became chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee.  He joined the War Hawks in promoting war with Great Britain.[2]

Next: How New Englanders Reacted to War with Britain
Look for it Monday, June 23

 

 

[1] “Peter Buell Porter” American National Biography.

[2] “John C. Calhoun” American National Biography.

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Who Were the War Hawks from Tennessee?

Flex Grundy and John Sevier

Felix Grundy (1777-1840)  came from a frontier family that moved from Virginia to Pennsylvania and then to Kentucky.  Native Americans had killed at least three of his brothers.  His father died when he was young, yet his mother secured an education for her “youngest and favorite son.”  He read law in Kentucky with a leading lawyer of the West.  After serving in the Kentucky legislature and then the state’s chief justice, he moved to Nashville, Tennessee.  Like Clay, he was a gifted orator, but in Kentucky they clashed over several issues.  When he took his seat in the House of Representatives in 1812 he was 34.  He joined Henry Clay urging war with Great Britain.[1]

John Sevier (1745-1815) was, unlike other War Hawks, a seasoned warrior and politician in 1812.  During the Revolutionary War he fought in the North Carolina militia defending the frontier from the British and Cherokees.  Like Henry Clay and Richard Mentor Johnson he was a Democratic-Republican.  He joined the War Hawks in urging war with Great Britain.[2]

Next:  Who were Peter Buell Porter and John C. Calhoun?
Look for it Monday, June 16

 

 

[1] “Felix Grundy” American National Biography.

[2] “John Sevier” American National Biography.

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Who Were These War Hawks?

Henry Clay and Richard Mentor Johnson were from Kentucky; Felix Grundy and John Sevier from Tennessee; Peter Buell Porter, from Buffalo, New York and John C. Calhoun from the back woods of South Carolina.[1]

Henry Clay (1777-1852) was, in 1812, an articulate Kentuckian, aged 35.  The youthful orator had twice filled the vacant seats of Kentucky senators.  In 1810 he was overwhelmingly elected as a congressman from Kentucky to the House of Representatives.  He gathered a following of new, young congressmen who wanted to force the United States into declaring war on Britain.  They elected him speaker of the House. [2]

He was a Democratic-Republican adept at managing the mechanics of House leadership.  Soon, he had assigned his fellow War Hawks to head influential committees.  When James Madison asked Congress to declare war, many incorrectly blamed Clay for bringing the nation into war.[3]

Richard Mentor Johnson (1780-1850) also was elected to the House of Representatives, the first native Kentuckian to serve there.  Like Clay, he was a young Democratic-Republican.  When he voted for declaring war against Britain in 1812 he was in his early thirties.  He served gallantly in the War of 1812, fighting under the command William Henry Harrison, sustaining five bullet wounds.  After the war, he was re-elected to the House, where he was chairman of the House Committee on Military Affairs.[4]

Next:  Who were the War Hawks from Tennessee—Felix Grundy and John Sevier?

 

 

[1] Samuel Eliot Morison and Henry Steele Commager, The Growth of the American Republic, V. I  (New York:  Oxford University Press, 1962) 402.

[2] “Henry Clay” American National Biography.

[3] “Clay” ANB.

[4]  “Richard Mentor Johnson” American National Biography.

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How Tecumseh Responded

Tecumseh, incensed, refused to respect the treaty.  He approached the British in Canada, assuring them he was ready for war.  The British were not.  He recruited more tribes to join his confederacy.  He assured Governor Harrison that he was only defending his tribes’ concerns in traveling to speak to the Creek Nation.  Harrison brought the issue to a head.  Harrison and 1,100 troops encamped near Tecumseh’s headquarters on Tippecanoe Creek.  Tenskwatawa, the prophet, urged his brother not to engage Harrison.  Egged on by a few youthful warriors, Tecumseh ignored his twin, and invaded the encampment.[1]

The Americans fought back.  In two hours they subdued the attack, and burned Tecumseh’s headquarters.    Harrison was hailed as a hero, especially on the western frontier, where settlers were convinced that the British were behind the attacks.  In fact, they were not.  The twin brothers sought only to defend their united tribes from American policies that threatened their existence.[2]

Next:  Who were these War Hawks?

 

[1] Samuel Eliot Morison and Henry Steele Commager, The Growth of the American Republic, V. I  (New York:  Oxford University Press, 1962)  406.

[2] Morison and Commager, Growth of the American Republic, 406.

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Who Were the “War Hawks” and Why Did They Want War?

Almost half of the Representatives who had passed Macon’s Bill No. 2 were not reelected in 1810-11. [1] Instead, a new breed of young politicians took their place. Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun were the most prominent.  Their reason for war centered on the safety of the western frontier, not on impressment.[2]

As the nation grew, moving westward, pioneers were concerned about their safety.  Native American twin brothers, Tecumseh and Tenskswatawa,  managed to unite tribes on America’s frontier into a powerful confederacy, threatening new settlements.  Tecumseh was the warrior; Tenskwatawa was revered as “The Prophet.”    As The Prophet preached a prohibition of liquor among the tribes, Tecumseh organized the tribes’ warriors into a fighting force.  Forced off their lands by pioneers, the Shawnee twins established a new headquarters where the Tippecanoe Creek flowed into the Wabash River in Indiana.

Governor of the Indiana Territory, William Henry Harrison, countered the growing threat by recruiting disaffected members of the tribe to negotiate a treaty.  The agreement secured three million acres of land in Indiana opening up pioneer settlements within fifty miles of Tecumseh’s headquarters.[3]

Next: How Tecumseh Responded

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Samuel Eliot Morison and Henry Steele Commager, The Growth of the American Republic, V. I  (New York:  Oxford University Press, 1962)  402.

[2] Morison and Commager, Growth of the American Republic, 405.

[3] Morison and Commager, Growth of the American Republic, 406.

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