FROM 1492 TO 1920
BY JULIAN HAWTHORNE
P F COLLIER & SONS COMPANY, NEW YORK 1920
THE WAR OF 1812 (Part 1)
THE name of one of our most peace-loving Presidents is connected with one of our most extraordinary wars. The thing that we seemingly needed most in 1812 was peace; we had been fighting . seven years for our existence, and then had created a regimen by which to live; we had no money to speak of, no army, and no navy; the machinery of civil life had not got down to smooth work, and we were by no means assured, as yet, that it would stand the tests to which it must be submitted. The interests of different parts of the country were different one from another; the South and West were dependent on agricultural products, while the North and East had embarked their capital and energy in commerce. Manufactures had not become an important feature of our existence; we got what we wanted from Europe, and had not conceived the idea of becoming self supporting. We were. independent of course, because we had a Declaration to that effect; but were nevertheless a sort of appanage of Europe; the marks of our colonial infancy were still . upon us. We had a big continent behind us, but we , as yet were but imperfectly acquainted with its resources, and were even somewhat shy of exploring it, believing that we had as much as we could, comfortably manage in the already settled or partially settled regions; besides, the Indians were scarcely quiescent, and, there were the Spaniards as well as the Canadians to think of. Time to think it all over quietly, and to let things settle down into their places, was what we needed most of all. To fight anybody was as far from our wishes as it would be for a newborn infant, or for an invalid just convalescent from a critical illness.
So thought Madison, the new President; and most of his countrymen no doubt agreed with him. He was the leader of a Republican party, whose watchword was peace. The Federalists were also for peace, because, since most o them lived in the States which throve on commerce, they deprecated anything which would restrict their commercial activity. The whole. country, then, was at one on this question ; we were too weak to .fight; we had too much to lose, and nothing to gain by fighting; and we were not fond of fighting at any rate. Therefore there seemed to be no possible inducement that could urge America to go to war.
There was war in Europe: they were all fighting there. This new firebrand, Napoleon, was setting them all by the ears, and there was no telling how it would end. But their quarrels did not concern us, and we would be careful not to get entangled in them. Neutrality was our policy; strict abstinence from French, 'English, or any other complications; and meanwhile, by engaging in commerce, and supplying the contestants with cotton, tobacco, and other produce, we could earn an honest livelihood even more quickly, perhaps, than if these foolish nations were less belligerent. Such was the reasonable and inoffensive attitude which we upped out for ourselves.
But we had not calculated on the original sin inherent in Europe. In spite of our experience we had not fathomed the preposterous arrogance of England; nor did we know anything of the bottomless guile of our friend Napoleon, who had just made us that welcome present of Louisiana. We had not estimated the virulence of the British Orders in Council, or of the Berlin and Milan Decrees of France. Such things were not to be believed until they came to pass. We supposed that if we did no one any harm, no one would be at the pains to harm us.
We were grievously mistaken; but it took us a long time to find it out. In these days of quickly diffused intelligence, and of rapidly formed public opinion, it seems strange that it should have taken so long. But the incredulity of a man who does not wish to believe is not easily extirpated. A thing that is violently undesirable is not readily regarded as probable. There ire a great many maxims to the general effect that people can always keep out of trouble if they wish to; hat it takes two to make a quarrel; and so on. They ire true-up to a certain point. After that they became injurious, and lead into more mischief than does an aggressive principle. The course of the New Engand Federalist leaders in this war is a flagrant example of this and other evils. Massachusetts, New York, and other Eastern States were thereby brought into an attitude which seems, incredible, when we consider the part New England and New York had played in the Revolution. We shall have more to say on this head presently. Another venerable maxim applies here: Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis
In the war of 1812 our antagonists were many. First we had to fight this New England Federalism; then our financial inadequacy; next the riotous or imbecile incompetence of our raw militia levies and of our antiquated Revolutionary officers aid "political" generals; then Napoleon; then Great Britain; and the last not only in open fight, but in. the. not less embarrassing shape of secret and treasonable correspondence with our own self-seeking and disloyal merchants and politicians. And what had we with which to fight all these foes? A fleet of twenty little ships, against the thousand vessels of war of England; and to oppose her Wellington veterans an uncertain and untried force of countrymen, many of whom had never fired a gun, in anger, who could be enlisted for short terms only, who objected, often (indeed generally) at the .critical moment, to go into a foreign country to fight; and who were as likely as not to declare that they were subject to the orders, not of the National Government, but only of their several States. The competent leaders of these trope could be counted on the fingers of one hands with perhaps a finger or two to spare; while as for naval officers we must rely chiefly on dashing ,youngsters who might or might not tern out well; and on the captains of merchant ships, who knew how to sail certainly, but had learned no more about a cannon than. that it must be touched off at one end in order to be discharged at the other. With this outfit we were to encounter mighty England, and perhaps France as well, not to mention the other antagonists above enumerated. It was not a question of courage, or of willingness to resent outrages, or of a proper national spirit; it was a question of sheer possibility. What could we accomplish? A nation thus dificient in warlike strength would ordinarily be considered wanting in brain as well if it should declare battle at such odds.
Let us once more see what our provocations were.. In the first place, England, by her "Orders in Council," had forbidden us, on pain of seizure of our ships, to traffic with her enemy, France, or with any French possessions, as in the West Indies. She not only forbade us, but she took stringent measures to enforce our obedience. She arrogated the right to stop any of our ships on the high seas or elsewhere, and to overhaul them with a view to finding out what cargoes they carried, and whither they were bound. If it could be made to appear that they were, or might be, engaged in the prohibited traffic, then they were the property of the inquisitors, and were condemned with their cargoes forthwith. And since the English commanders were by no means scrupulous about interpreting evidence, and were practically free of any control from the Board of Admiralty at home (whose rules were broad enough to include almost anything), it followed that no ship flying the American flag was safe from the hour she left port. Besides, a cargo landed at a neutral port might from there be conveyed to France; so that practically this law of England's would keep us from commerce with any part of Europe. The only way to insure our safety was to stay at home.
This was bad enough. But Napoleon made it much worse by his retaliatory measures. His Berlin Decree, promulgated in 1806, declared all England in a state of blockade, and prohibited commerce and correspondence with her; and in 1807 he followed this up with his Milan Decree, which declared forfeit all vessels bound to or from any British ports, and all, likewise, which had paid licenses or duties to Great Britain, or had submitted to search by British cruisers. Thus our merchant marine had their choice of being destroyed either by the French or the English; they could hardly expect to escape them both; but the chances rather favored England, because she had more ships than France. No one can tell exactly how many of our ships and cargoes England appropriated during her wars with Napoleon; but we know that the latter, with his modest means, seized no less than three hundred and eighty-four of our ships with their cargoes; and that he turned the cargoes into cash and used them for his expenses, though he paid us the compliment of assuring us, meanwhile, that they were being detained only until the questions relative to them should have been decided. That was his courteous French way. England was not courteous, and never gave us any reason to hope that the wrongs she inflicted on us would ever be righted; and, as a matter of fact, most of them never were.
We have seen how Jefferson tried the embargo as a remedy for this trouble, and how it did us more harm than it did either France or England. When it was given up we had remaining the expedient of illicit traffic with one or the other belligerent. We would say to England, Suspend your Orders in Council so far as we are concerned, and we in return will run the risk of France, and give you all the benefits of our commerce: or we could say to Napoleon, Forbear to apply those. Decrees to us, and we will turn our backs on England, and give you all the profit. Or, again', our merchants might, (and they did) establish private understandings with one or the other belligerent, according to which this or that particular ship should be free to go where she would. None of these devices was dignified, and the last at least was quite irregular and dishonorable; but it was either that or fight. The Orders 'and the Decrees of course tended deliberately to force us into the arms of either France or England, little as we might sympathize with the cause of one or the other. But we supinely accepted so many humiliations that it did seem, at last, as if the remark that we "could not be kicked into a fight" was more literally than figuratively true. We did not wish to fight on the side of France against England, nor did we wish to fight with England against France; and least of all did we wish to fight for our own land. We made all mannor of representations, and proved up to the hilt that it was unjust to inflict such injuries on a nation that had done no harm to an anyone, and asked only to be let alone: We invariably had the best of the logic, but that did not bring us any nearer relief from the injuries. How long could we endure the injuries and continue to enjoy any national existence at all?
At length it occurred to that wonderful engine of mischief, which we call Napoleon's brain, that he might gain a point on England by seeming to accept our commercial offer. He had already appropriated six million dollars' worth of our goods, and be had no intention of giving any of it back-which was the stipulation we made in case our offer were accepted. But there was nothing to prevent his saying that he would give it back; nor could we refuse to go on with the arrangewent until the restitution had been made-for that would be an international. discourtesy. He explained that his Decrees had been necessitated by England's Orders; that he loved America, and would willingly accord her any favor in his power; and that he would be happy to suspend his Berlin and Milan Decrees so far as they affected us, on condition that England , would do likewise with her Orders in Council: or that, in case she should refuse to do this, we should revive against her alone the nonintercourse act which had been repealed at the time the embargo was removed. Upon this statement, known as the Cadore Letter, we asked England to repeal her Orders; but she declined to do so until Napoleon should have proved by concrete evidence that his revocation of his Decrees was genuine; and should also have relieved British shipping from its present disabilities. In other words, we must fight and win England's battle for her before she would make my concessions. This was a manifest absurdity, and its operation would be, logically, to throw us directly into the arms of France. The difficulty was that we were none too sure ourselves of the genuineness of France's attitude; and, besides, our merchants had been prostituting our flag by allowing it to cover British commerce. Thus our negotiation with England, awkward enough at any rate, was rendered more so; and the Federalists were also raising the cry that the Republicans were secretly departing from neutrality in France's favor. And in truth the country, except for this Eastern clique, was more irritated against England than against France. The French at least were not impressing our citizens on the plea that they were French subjects; but there were six thousand men held under restraint in British ships or prisons on such grounds; and the indignities and pains they suffered were such as one's blood boiled to hear.
Spain meanwhile was quite as hostile to us. as either England or France; but it was her weakness rather than her strength that caused us inconvenience; for her possessions in Florida, east and west, were liable to be seized by the belligerents. To guard against this danger, we occupied some of the posts ourselves; France acquiesced, but England remonstrated. England's refusal to repeal her Orders would soon cause our nonintercourse law to revive, and that would place us in a position hostile to her. The erection into a State of the region round New Orleans, under the name of Louisiana, occasioned an outbreak from Massachusetts, who, Quincy declared, would secede sooner than agree to it. But Quincy was only some forty years of age at this time, and he said a great many things, before and during the war, which he afterward regretted, and which would richly have entitled him to the penalties of treason. Certainly we could not consistently have hanged Jefferson Davis in 1865 for heading the Rebellion, without first suspending from the gallows the honored remains of this gentleman, who died in 1864, at the age of ninety-two. There was never a Southern Secessionist . more virulent than this eminent New Englender; and when he read the reports of the Secession proceedings his conscience must often have given him a twinge to note how accurately they were quoting his own utterances of forty or fifty years before. He did his utmost to destroy our country; and he never had the excuse which the Southerners could plead. The only visible grounds of his action, and that of his fellow Federalists, were base, treacherous, and personal They were the result of disappointed personal ambition, of treasonable sympathy with England, his country's enemy, in open war with her and of an un-American sentiment of aristocratic oppo Rion to the will of the people. He was, in short, one the naughtiest of the naughty boys of our politics; m ch more reprehensible than the mountebank, Randolph of Roanoke, because he had more brains than the latter, who never had a worse purpose than to make himself conspicuous at any cost: But wonderful is the virtue of ninety , years "If Louisiana be admitted, New England will separate from the Union, amicably, if she can, forcibly, if she must," was his saying just before the war of 1812. Had his life terminated with that utterance, what would have been his reputation to-day?
Our financial condition will not bear looking into; Gallatin had been in favor of starting a new national bank; but we were not ripe for it quite yet, and the proposal was voted down, on the plea that we should be strangled by a moneyed oligarchy. Gallatin resigned, and there was no obvious way of getting money for our common expenses, without considering the extra liabilities of the on-coming war. Gallatin, however, presently resumed his position; but the best change of this period was that which made Monroe Secretary of State. He was a man who had been growing, and in the right direction, ever since his entry into public life. As war visibly drew near, the New England party tried their utmost to discredit the. Administration, and the so-called "Boston Resolutions" embodied their views. They maintained that Congress and the President had no right to alter our relations with France or England; that every citizen had the right to adopt his independent course in the matter; that the action of Congress in refusing the bank charter was unjust, oppressive, and tyrannical, and was calculated to ruin and impoverish good citizens; and that the only means to prevent such a calamity as an appeal to force was to elect men to office who would peaceably oppose the execution of laws which, if persisted in, must and would be resisted. Gerry being at this time Governor of Massachusetts, the Legislature, in order to retain its Federalist majority, caused the Senatorial districts to be rearranged in an arbitrary manner. To this device, then - first practiced, the name gerrymandering was given; owing to the accident that one of the new districts, on the map, had the form of a salamander. It has been tried in the political furnace ever since; but as a legitimate measure it cannot be denied that it has been found wanting. Whether or not Gerry was the original suggester of it is ,a question which time has not definitely answered.
But these internal troubles were less pressing than the external ones. Our commerce was destroyed by England and France combined; but England was, of the two, the more reprehensible, since she had not, as had France, nominally at least, desisted from her in'., iquitous restrictions; and she still forbade American ships to traffic with France, though France allowed us to deal with the English. The incident of the English ship Little Belt firing upon our frigate President, with its sequel of the riddling of the former, was not disagreeable to us; but it was felt that the inevitable end was thereby brought nearer. As a war preliminary, Madison was forced by Clay and other "war hawks," as they were called, to declare another temporary , embargo, to last two months, after which the final step should be taken, unless England meanwhile modified her attitude. Madison's first term was now approaching its close, and he was constrained to yield to the war party under penalty, should he refuse, of being dropped as a candidate for reelection. But, pacific though he was, his excellent good sense probably admonished him that war was our only recourse. The South and West were decidedly warlike, and only the commercial element and the aristocratic set in Boston and New York were in favor of England and peace. Their leaders were men well educated and wealthy, who could not be moved by England's insults, because they considered themselves to be like. Englishmen of the upper classes, and desired a government similar to that of England. They had lost touch with the people, who were, as they are and ever will be, the true America; and therefore, like all who have since then imitated their attitude, they were in the wrong, and had to suffer for it. They either could not or would not see that in supporting England they were opposing the welfare of that commerce upon hich New England and New York relied; and that England's secret dealings with them were solely in her own interests, and would cease as soon as these had been secured. If they could not rule the country, they were willing, if not even anxious, to ruin it. Fortunately, they were very nearly as impotent as they were malicious; and the baselessness of their charge that the Republicans were conspiring with France is shown by the grotesque fact that we were very near declaring war upon England and France both, because it seemed to Congress that both were alike to blame. It was finally decided that we would better take them one after the other, instead of simultaneously; but there is something amusingly characteristic of American impartiality in this Jack-the-GiantKiller attitude of our small self toward the two bullies of the world.
Madison got the whole Presidential vote; Clinton, 'his former Vice President, being dead, Gerry was chosen to fill the second place; the Federalist nominees, De Witt Clinton and Ingersoll, were crushingly defeated. Randolph tried to start a debate in the House against war, but was stopped by Clay and Calhoun. The President having intimated to Congress that they were at liberty to declare war when they thought we were ready for it, they declared it forthwith, though we were as far from being ready for it as ever a nation was. New England was not so much unready for it as set against it; no considerations of patriotism or honor had any effect upon her leaders in inducing them to cooperate with the majority. They stood out for State rights; they foretold all manner of calamity to the nation in its chosen course; and they would sooner have seen these prophecies, fulfilled than themselves proved in error. . An act of temerity the declaration of war no doubt was; but it was the duty of honest citizens to move with the mass of their countrymen, instead of diminishing our slender chance of -success by the amount of their own support. But Quincy and Dickering and their fellows impeded recruiting, hindered subscriptions to the national loan, circulated addresses denouncing the war, and demanding the dismissal of its advocates; refused the President's requisitions for militia; and Connecticut went so far as to - raise a separate army for the defense of her own domainwhether against England or America might be left to circumstances to decide. How different was this New England from that of the Stamp Act and of the Revolution-and of the Civil War? We are all but mortal, and liable to our seasons of obscuration. Baltimore had a sin of her own to answer for on the other side; for her mob sacked a newspaper office and killed some of its owners because the paper printed violent articles against the national policy. The people had not yet become . so conscious of its inviolable strength as to forbear from such ignoble demonstrations of passion. This very war would teach both the Eastern aristocrats and ,the Southern and Western populace a valuable lesson.
War was declared on the 18th of June, 1812; but there had been fighting in the field more than six months before. Out in Indiana, in November, 1811, there was a young man named William Henry Harrison, of an energetic and capable character, who made a treaty with the local Indian tribes, whereby three million acres of land were transferred to American ownership. This was in accordance with the Jeffersonian policy that the Indians should be paid honestly for their lands, instead of being cheated or kicked out of them; and all would have been well but for the opposition of one Tecumseh and his brother; the former a Shawnee warrior and statesman, the other a magician with a loud and convincing voice, and but one eye, in which were concentrated the expression and powers of several ordinary ones. Tecumseh planned political and warlike moves, and the Prophet helped him to, execute them by marshaling to his aid the unseen powers of enchantment; to the warriors he gave invulnerability. It was a strong firm, and had immense prestige among the red men in all parts of the country.
Tecumseh denied that the Indians from whom Harrison had received the land had an i ht to dispose of it; his theory being that all land belonged to all Indiana in common. It was a good theory to fight on. Harrison was ready to fight, and, gathering a small force, he set out in quest of the foe. Near the Tippecanoe River he was met by envoys with a pacific message; in consequence of which he camped where he was, instead of advancing against the village where the Prophet had established himself. But having had experience .of Indian diplomacy, he gave his men a hint to sleep. with one eye open, and with their rifles handy. Therefore when, at a fitting hour of darkness, the wily followers of the Prophet leaped with their familiar cry upon the slumbering host, expecting the delights of massacre, they were promptly met with cold lead; and after a sharp fight, in which the Prophet's voice, from a neighboring coign of vantage, loudly but unavailingly encouraged his warriors, they were driven back on their village, and, despite their alleged magical invulnerability, were shot down in great numbers. The Prophet's one eye, however, proved adequate to his own personal protection; and he and his brother escaped to Canada, whence, indeed, they had procured their arms and other sinews of war, in defiance of existing treaties. Thus the British, through their Indian tools, were worsted in the first action of the war, which they themselves had provoked. And Harrison's success lent volume to the cry of "On to Canada!" which was heard immediately upon the beginning of hostilities.
Did we want Canada?-Certainly not; nor has it ever happened that the desires of the nation, in time of peace, have turned in that direction. But when war with England has been waged, or in contemplation, Canada has always been an objective point; because, though we had no use for the place ourselves, we were persuaded that England valued it, or at any rate would rather not be forcibly deprived of it. We have seen, in the course of this narrative, how we have more than once invaded Canada; and also how we have always been discomfited in the enterprise; but now it seemed that the feat could be accomplished easily;. for the British forces available there were small. A rapid campaign, under good leaders with able troops, would place Montreal and Quebec in our possession with little trouble. With- these as counters, we could play the game of diplomacy with England to advantage when it came to settling terms of peace. The New England Federalists, with Quincy and Pickering at their head, denounced the plan as an iniquitous scheme of wanton conquest; and arguments (since become familiar by repetition whenever a prospect of enlarging our do; mains either within or without the geographical bound. aries of the continent has been under consideration) were forthcoming in abundance to the effect that if we must fight, we should confine ourselves to a war of defense exclusively. The reply of the Government was to appoint a Revolutionary veteran, General Hull, to command the expedition which was to enter Canada by way of Detroit and Malden; while another force should attack along the Niagara route, and a third by Lake Champlain. It was a good plan on paper, but for good reasons it failed miserably in the field.
Governor Hull of Michigan was no doubt a Revolu. tionary veteran; but lie was none the better on that account. Like many another, he had been through the war, but had never made himself conspicuous in it; and he bad been living and swing fat since then on the reputation of men better than himself. He was, in reality, that rare phenomenon, a physical coward; and mentally he was incompetent to carry on the simplest martial operations. His age was about fifty-nine; so that his collapse cannot be attributed to senile decay. Blazing his way with proclamations of terrific and bloodthirsty import, this fraudulent champion led a force of twenty-two hundred men, most of them militia, to, the Canadian village of Sandwich, which he captured without bloodshed, because there were no troops of the enemy there. Thence he dispatched news of victory which electrified the country; but when t came to marching against Malden, where some British soldiers were really intrenched, General Hull's confidence forsook him, and he found pretexts for delay. As if in answer to his prayer, came news that Mackinac had been captured by the enemy, the garrison being ignorant at the time that war had broken out. Instantly Hull gave orders to retreat to Detroit; there was a possibility, unless he did so, that his for might come into actual contact with the murderous soldiers of the foe. It was General Hull's fixed conviction, apparently, that wars should be conducted by proclamation, but never by sword or bullet. Back in Detroit, accordingly, his surprised men and dejected officers premently found themselves, while their commander secretly besought Providence not to let the British come anywhere near him.
But the British General, Brock, was a soldier who thought that, in war, one ought to fight; and he had made good use of the material for fighting that was at his disposal: On learning that the hero of proclamations had fallen back, he marched. after him, and marshaled his men before the defenses of Detroit. The garrison innocently prepared for resistance; the cannon were loaded, and there stood the- gunners, with matches in their hands, ready to let fly, when forth from his retreat stumbled the Revolutionary veteran, waving in his trembling hand a large white tablecloth, snatched in reckless haste from his dinner table. This oriflamme of peace he flaunted appealingly over the battlements; and while his officers fairly cried with mortification, he surrendered the fort, and the whole of Michigan, to the astonished Brock. For this exploit Hull was afterward tried by court-martial, convicted of cowardice in face of the enemy, and dishonorably dismissed from the service; and so ended our first attempt in this war to capture Canada. Harrison was chosen to succeed him; but the difficulties were now such that active operations from this direction had to be delayed.
Meanwhile Dearborn, another undesirable relic of the Revolution, was in chief command on the lower St. Lawrence, with headquarters at Plattsburg, on Lake Champlain. He sent Stephen Van Rensselaer, with six thousand men, half of them regulars, to invade the enemy's country by way of the Niagara River. Van Rensselaer crossed with his regulars, leaving the militia temporarily on the American side, and defeated the enemy in some hard-fought engagements; but when he called upon the militia to come to his assistance, they refused, not relishing the aspect of bloodshed at close quarters; and they actually stood inactive by, on the pretext that they were not legally compelled to' make war outside their own boundaries, while their companions were killed and taken captive. This affair afforded an opportunity to young Winfield Scott to distinguish himself, though he was taken prisoner, no one being able to hit him with a bullet; but Van Rensselaer had had enough of fighting under Dearborn, and with noncombative militia, and he resigned in disgust. A remarkable windbag by the name of Alexander Smyth took his place, whose genius for sanguinary proclamations left Hull himself in the shade; if phrases could kill, there would not be a redcoat left alive by the beginning of winter. But the test of an actual advance punctured his distended proportions; and one of his own subordinates, Porter, accused him of cowardice before the army. Smyth challenged Porter to fight a duel; but when the combatants reached the ground, he concluded that there were really no grounds for the hostility of distinguished men like themselves, and he offered his adversary his hand instead of a pistol shot. Dearborn all this while did nothing at Plattsburg; and so the winter land campaign against Canada came to an end.
Hereupon up got Quincy in Congress and denounced the invasion (or the pretense of one) as a wicked and wanton act upon innocent and unoffending persons; said that the Government was a despotism, served by "mangy hounds of recent importation"-meaning Gallatin and others-and concluded his speech with this apostrophe: "If the people of the Northern and Eastern States are destined to be hewers of wood and drawers of water to men who know nothing about their interests, and care nothing about them, I am clear of the great transgression. If, in common with their country men, my children are destined to be slaves, and to poke in with negroes, chained to the car of a Southern master, they, at least, shall have this sweet consciousness as the consolation of their condition-they shall be able to say: `Our father was guiltless of these chains."" Possibly this consciousness might have been sweet to the respectable descendants of this moderate reasonable statesman; but as a matter of fact, though the war went on, the incident of the slave-drawn car of the Southern master never took place. But what was even worse for Quincy, Clay rose to reply to him, and Clay's speech relegated the Northern aristocrat to permanent political retirement on the larger stage of affairs. He showed how the Eastern Federalists had been first for war, when the Administration was for peace; then for peace, when the Administration was for war; how, being parasites of England, they had accused Republicans of being henchmen of France-acharge which, said Clay, "ought to be met in one manner only, namely, by the lie direct." As for the invasion of Canada, she had first incited the Indians to massacre our people. The orator ended by drawing a vivid picture of the sufferings and wrongs of our impressed seamen, and he declared that he had always considered the impressment as the most serious ground of our quarrel with England. This speech greatly strengthened the Government and heartened the country; especially as the progress of the struggle at sea was a very different story from that of the land campaign.
The odds against us at sea in this war were fifty to one. This fact had two effects; first, it prevented Congress from making any serious attempt to bring our navy into better condition; what was the use of wasting money in an effort so .obviously hopeless? On the other hand, England had no fear of us on the sea, and was quite content to oppose us there with, only two or three times our number of effective ships. Her officers were almost ashamed to engage with "pinebuilt frigates, manned by bastards and outlaws." They had entirely recovered from this embarrassment before the war was over, and were ravished with joy if by chance, with vastly superior numbers, they were able to stay the monotonous tide of victory which marked our conflicts with them. The officers and sailors who had conquered the rest of the world with Nelson, were beaten without limit or excuse by our merchant captains and fishermen; in vain they tried to explain to themselves their constant defeats; the oqly explanation was that our ships were built on better lines than theirs, were better sailed, by better seamen, and were fought by braver and more intelligent men, in a better cause. In-1812, as in 1898, our gunners aimed their guns to hit, while the enemy shot wild, because they had not the cool courage which sees straight in the moment of danger. Once more was the bubble of English superiority pricked. The English have many merits, and they have proved themselves stout fighters on sea and land; but in fighting, as in all other respects, they are inferior. to Americans. There is a reason for all things, and the explanation of this fact is to, be sought in the independent spirit Which is the first. inheritance of the American. He owns himself; he thinks his own thoughts; he relies upon himself' in the emergencies of life; and thus is developed in him a quality lacking in the constitution of other men. In battle other soldiers are loyal to the king, to the general, to the flag; but the American is loyal first of all to his Americanism; and that is planted in his soul deeper than the roots of any other loyalty. It will bring him through when all else fails. It makes him master of his Anglo-Saxon brethren, and creates a new race out of the amalgamation of all races; a new character in the world, not after the flesh, but after the spirit. It has not worked out into its pure and final state as yet; indeed, it is only in its beginning; but even now it is showing the way to the rest of humanity; and the future belongs to it.
The War of 1812, part 2