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The Land We Live In - The Story of Our Country
by Henry Mann
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The sea victories were a fortunate offset to American disasters on land. With the aid of the great Indian chieftain Tecumseh, the British set out to conquer the Northwest. Tecumseh, chief of the Shawaneese, was probably the ablest Indian that the white man had ever met. He resolved early in life to make a final stand against the progress of the palefaces. His scheme was at first not of a warlike nature, for he began with a secret council of representative Indians about the year 1806, the object of which was to form an Indian confederacy to prevent the further sale of lands to the United States, except by consent of the confederacy, which was to include the entire Indian population of the Northwest. Thus the American Union was to be met by an Indian union. Tecumseh had a brother, known in history as "The Prophet," who visited the various tribes and brought the influence of superstition to bear in favor of Tecumseh's projects. Governor William Henry Harrison, whose Territory of Indiana included the present States of Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin, viewed Tecumseh's operations with alarm, although assured by that chieftain that his intentions were peaceful. In order to remove any just ground for discontent Governor Harrison offered to restore to the Indians any lands that had not been fairly purchased. Tecumseh met Governor Harrison at Vincennes, and recited the old story of Indian wrongs. After complaining of white duplicity in obtaining sales of land, and endeavoring to sow strife between the tribes, Tecumseh added: "How can we have confidence in the white people? When Jesus Christ came upon the earth, you killed him and nailed him on a cross. You thought he was dead, but you were mistaken. Everything I have said to you is the truth. The Great Spirit has inspired me." The first interview ended in great excitement, but a second meeting, on the following day, was more decorous in character. Nothing came of these discussions, as Tecumseh's demand for the restoration of all Indian lands purchased from single tribes could obviously not be granted. Hostilities followed, and the battle of Tippecanoe was fought during the absence of Tecumseh, who on going South to visit the Cherokees and other tribes had given strict orders to his brother, the Prophet, not to attack the Americans. The Indians attempted a surprise after midnight, November 7, 1811. They fought furiously, and if Harrison had been a Braddock, the story of Duquesne might have been repeated. But Harrison understood frontier warfare, and he directed his men so skillfully, although many of them had never been under fire before, that the Indians were at length repulsed. One of Harrison's orders, which probably saved his army, was to extinguish the campfires, so that white and Indian fought in the darkness on equal terms. The American loss was thirty-seven killed and 151 wounded, and that of the Indians somewhat smaller. In effect Tippecanoe was a decisive victory for the Americans, and broke the spell in which Tecumseh and the Prophet had held the tribes.

* * *

The War of 1812 revived the hopes of the great Indian chieftain, and with the rank of brigadier-general in the British army he set about to assist General Isaac Brock, the Governor of Upper Canada, in the task of wresting the Northwest from the Americans. General William Hull, an uncle of Captain Isaac Hull, the commander of the Constitution, was Governor of the Territory of Michigan, which had been organized in 1805 and now contained about 5000 inhabitants. To General Hull was given the command of the forces intended for defensive and offensive operations on the Upper Lakes. A small garrison of United States troops was stationed at Michilimacinac and one at Chicago, which were the outposts of civilization. The English near Detroit appear to have been aware of the declaration of war before the news reached General Hull, and while the latter was moving with an extreme caution excusable only on the ground of age, Brock swiftly laid out and as swiftly entered upon an aggressive campaign. The American outposts were captured by the British and Indians, and the garrison of Fort Dearborn—Chicago—was cruelly massacred. On this occasion Mr. John Kinzie, the first settler at Chicago, who as a trader was much liked by the Indians, did noble service, with his excellent wife, in saving the lives of the soldiers' families. Mrs. Heald, the wife of Captain Heald, was ransomed for ten bottles of whiskey and a mule, just as an Indian was about to scalp her.

At this critical juncture General Hull was weakened, and the British forces opposed to him were encouraged by the news that General Henry Dearborn, commander of the American troops in the Northern Department, instead of invading Canada from the Niagara frontier, in obedience to his instructions, had agreed to a provisional armistice with Sir George Prevost, the governor-general of Canada. The ground for the armistice was that England had revoked the orders in council obnoxious to Americans, five days after the declaration of war by the United States, and that intended peace negotiations would therefore have in all probability a happy result. As a matter of fact England had not yielded, and had no intention, as it proved, of yielding on the question of impressment, which was the principal American grievance. But even if England had surrendered every point it was an outrageous assumption on the part of General Dearborn to depart from the line of military instructions and military duty upon any representation foreign to that duty. By his error in this regard General Dearborn injured the American cause more than a severe defeat would have done, leaving as he did General Hull and his handful of men, who were not included in the armistice, to bear the brunt of British hostility. The government at Washington disapproved General Dearborn's course, and the armistice was cancelled, but not in time to prevent the loss of Detroit.

General Hull had only eight hundred men in Detroit when General Brock attacked the place by land and water, with a much more numerous force of British and Indians, assisted by ships of war. It is often asserted that General Hull surrendered the place without serious defence. This is not true. In addition to the official statements of both sides, and General Hull's own vindication, the journal of an Ohio soldier named Claypool who was in the American ranks at the time, shows that the Americans returned the British fire vigorously during August 15, and for several hours on the following day, when General Hull, in view of the overwhelming force opposed to him, capitulated. General Hull was afterward tried by court-martial and sentenced to death, but the sentence was not carried out, the United States escaping a stain like that which attaches to England for the fate of Admiral Byng. Hull had proven during the Revolution that he was no coward. Whatever may have been his errors of judgment before the surrender, at the time of the surrender Detroit was indefensible.

* * *

The English were now masters of Michigan Territory, and the western forests were alive with Indians on the warpath. Fort Wayne was besieged, and Captain Zachary Taylor bravely defended Fort Harrison. General Harrison, appointed to the command of the Northwestern army, promptly relieved both posts, and the government ordered that ten thousand men should be raised to recover Detroit and invade Canada. General James Winchester, in command of the advance corps of Harrison's forces, imprudently engaged in conflict with a much more numerous body of British at Frenchtown, on the River Raisin. Nearly all his troops, numbering about eight hundred, were killed or captured, and some of the captives were massacred. General Winchester himself was taken prisoner. Soon afterward the British General Proctor issued a proclamation requiring the citizens of Michigan to take the oath of allegiance to the British crown, or leave the Territory. The American residents in Detroit, under the terms of the capitulation, remained undisturbed in their homes, but their hearts were continually wrung by the spectacle of cruelties practiced by Indian allies of the British upon American captives. Many families parted with all but necessary wearing apparel to redeem the sufferers, and private houses were turned into hospitals for their relief. Mr. Kinzie, of Chicago, who was now a paroled prisoner in Detroit, was foremost in this work of patriotism and humanity.

The defeat at the River Raisin was a hard blow to General Harrison, especially as the troops to make up his army of ten thousand men were slow in arriving. He did not lose courage, however, and when General Proctor sent an imperious demand for the surrender of Fort Meigs, Harrison answered: "He will never have this post surrendered to him upon any terms. Should it fall into his hands, it will be in a manner calculated to do him more honor and to give him larger claims upon the gratitude of his government than any capitulation could possibly do." "There will be none of us left to kill" was the reply of Captain Crogan at Fort Stephenson, when Proctor's messenger menaced him with Indian vengeance, should he fail to surrender. Harrison, reinforced by General Clay Green, from Kentucky, compelled the besiegers to withdraw, and the heroic Crogan mowed down with one discharge of his single cannon more than fifty of the assailants who were advancing to carry his fort by storm. Hardly had the remainder fled when the Americans let down pails of water from the wall of the fort for the relief of their wounded enemies. The formation of an army for the invasion of Canada now went forward in earnest, while the retreat of the British shook the confidence of Tecumseh and his Indian followers in England's ability to protect them against the Americans.

The Niagara frontier was the scene of desultory warfare, with varied fortune for both sides. The battle of Queenstown, October 13, 1812, although it resulted in the defeat and capture of the Americans engaged and witnessed a pitiable exhibition of cowardice on the part of militiamen who refused to cross the river to the aid of their countrymen, was attended by a loss for the Canadians that more than counterbalanced their victory, in the death of Major-General Isaac Brock, whose well-deserved monument is a conspicuous feature of the Niagara landscape. Among the Americans who surrendered on this occasion was Colonel Winfield Scott, who, while himself a prisoner, took a resolute and memorable stand against the British claim that certain Irishmen captured in the American ranks should be sent to England to be tried for treason. The Irishmen, twenty-three in number, were put in irons and deported to England, but in the following May Colonel Scott, after the battle of Fort George, selected twenty-three British prisoners, not of Irish birth, to be dealt with as the British authorities should deal with the Irish-Americans. The latter were finally released and returned to America, and the British doctrine of perpetual allegiance was shattered without treaty or diplomacy.



CHAPTER XXVI.

Battle of Lake Erie—Master-Commandant Oliver Hazard Perry—Building a Fleet—Perry on the Lake—A Duel of Long Guns—Fearful Slaughter on the Lawrence—"Can Any of the Wounded Pull a Rope?"—At Close Quarters— Victory in Fifteen Minutes—"We Have Met the Enemy and They Are Ours" —The Father of Chicago Sees the End of the Battle—The British Evacuate Detroit—General Harrison's Victory at the Thames—Tecumseh Slain—The Struggle in the Southwest—Andrew Jackson in Command—Battle of Horseshoe Bend—The Essex in the Pacific—Defeat and Victory on the Ocean—Captain Porter's Brave Defence—Burning of Newark—Massacre at Fort Niagara—Chippewa and Lundy's Lane—Devastation by the British Fleet—British Vandalism at Washington—Attempt on Baltimore—"The Star Spangled Banner."

And now came the struggle for the control of Lake Erie—a struggle on which depended whether England should succeed in preventing the western growth of the United States, or be driven forever from the soil which Americans claimed as their own. Master-Commandant Oliver Hazard Perry was but twenty-six years of age when the Navy Department called him from his pleasant home at Newport and sent him to command a navy summoned from the primeval forests of the Northwest. Young as he was Perry had seen service in the wars with France and Tripoli, and he had requested the Navy Department at the commencement of the conflict with England to send him where he could meet the enemies of his country. Perry arrived at Erie, then known as Presque Isle, in March, 1813. Sailing Master Daniel Dobbins and Noah Brown, a shipwright from New York, were busily at work on the new fleet. Two brigs, the Niagara and the Lawrence, were built with white and black oak and chestnut frames, the outside planking being of oak and the decks of pine. Two gunboats were newly planked up, and work on a schooner was just begun. The vessels had to be vigilantly guarded against attack by the British, who were fully aware of the work being done. The capture of Fort George left the Niagara River open, and several American vessels which had been unable before to pass the Canadian batteries were now, with great exertion, drawn into the lake. These were the brig Caledonia, the schooners Somers, Tigress and Ohio, and the sloop Trippe. An English squadron set out to intercept the new arrivals, but Perry succeeded in gaining the harbor of Erie before the enemy made their appearance.

The American ships were ready for sea on July 10, but officers and sailors were lacking, and it was not until about the close of the month that Perry had three hundred men to man his ten vessels. While the British squadron, under Captain Robert Heriot Barclay maintained a vigorous blockade, Perry found that his new brigs could not cross the bar without landing their guns and being blocked up on scows. Commander Barclay, thinking that Perry could not move, made a visit of ceremony with his squadron to Port Dover, on the Canadian side. During Barclay's absence Perry got the Lawrence and Niagara over the bar, and the British commander was astonished, when he returned on the morning of August 5, to see the American fleet riding at anchor, and ready for battle. Barclay wished to delay the naval combat until after the completion at Malden of a ten-gun ship called the Detroit, which was to be added to his force, and he therefore put into that harbor.[1] Perry improved the delay to exercise his crews, largely made up of soldiers, in seamanship.

[1] Malden, on the Detroit River, eighteen miles below the city of Detroit, is now known as Amherstburg.

It was not until September 10 that the British squadron came out to give battle. Master-Commandant Perry had nine vessels mounting fifty-four guns, with 1536 pounds of metal. The British squadron consisted of six vessels, mounting sixty-three guns, with a total weight of 852 pounds. The American vessels were manned by 490 men and the British by 502 men and boys. In discipline, training and physical condition, however, the difference of crews was much more in favor of the British than the numbers indicate. The brig Lawrence was Perry's flagship; Barclay's pennant flew on the Detroit. As the American vessels stood out to sea Perry hoisted a large blue flag with the words of the dying Lawrence in white muslin—"Don't give up the ship!" He prepared for defeat as well as for victory, by gathering all his important papers in a package weighted and ready to be thrown overboard in the event of disaster. It may be said that Perry fought the earlier part of the battle almost alone, a slow-sailing brig, the Caledonia, being in line ahead of the Niagara, and Perry, having given orders that the vessels should preserve their stations.

In the duel of long guns the British had a decided advantage and their fire being concentrated on the Lawrence that vessel soon became a wreck. Of one hundred and three men fit for duty on board the American flagship, eighty-three were killed or wounded. These figures sufficiently indicate the carnage; but Perry fought on. "Can any of the wounded pull a rope?" cried Perry, and mangled men crawled out to help in training the guns. For nearly three hours the Lawrence with the schooners Ariel and Scorpion, fought the British fleet. Then Master-Commandant Elliott, of the Niagara, fearing Perry had been killed, undertook, notwithstanding Perry's previous orders, to go out of line to the help of the Lawrence. Perry then changed his flag to the Niagara, leaving orders with First Lieutenant John J. Yarnall, of the Lawrence, to hold out to the last. Perry at once sent Master-Commandant Elliott in a boat to bring up the schooners, and meantime Lieutenant Yarnall, deciding that further resistance would mean the destruction of all on board, lowered the flag on the Lawrence. The English thought they were already victors, and gave three cheers, but the Lawrence drifted out of range before they could take possession of her, and the Stars and Stripes were raised again over her blood-stained decks.

The battle had in truth only begun, but was soon to end. The remainder of the American squadron closed in on the English vessels, raking them fore and aft. The English officers and men were swept from their decks by the hurricane of iron. It was the United States and the Macedonian on a smaller scale. The American cannonade at close quarters was so fast and furious that the British ships were soon in a condition that left no choice save between sinking or surrender. In fifteen minutes after the Americans closed in a British officer waved a white hand-kerchief. The enemy had struck. Two of the English vessels, the Chippewa and the Little Belt, sought to escape to Maiden, but were pursued and captured by the sloop Trippe and the Scorpion.[2] Perry proceeded to the Lawrence, and on the decks of his flagship, still slippery with blood, he received the surrender of the English officers. Perry wrote with a pencil on the back of an old letter his famous dispatch: "We have met the enemy, and they are ours—two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop." The Americans lost in the battle twenty-seven killed and ninety-six wounded, of whom twenty-two were killed and sixty-one wounded on board the Lawrence. Twelve of the American quarter-deck officers were killed. The British lost forty-one killed and ninety-four wounded, making a total of one hundred and thirty-five. Commander Barclay, one of Nelson's veterans, had lost an arm in a previous naval engagement. He gave his men an admirable example of courage, being twice wounded, once in the thigh and once in the shoulder, thus being deprived of the use of his remaining arm. Captain Finnis, of the Queen Charlotte, was mortally wounded, and died on the same evening.

[2] "At half past two, the wind springing up, Captain Elliott was enabled to bring his vessel, the Niagara, into close action. I immediately went on board of her, when he anticipated my wish by volunteering to bring the schooners, which had been kept astern by the lightness of the wind, into close action. At forty-five minutes past two the signal was made for close action. The Niagara being very little injured I determined to pass through the enemy's line, bore up and passed ahead of their two ships and a brig, large schooner and sloop from the larboard side, at half pistol shot distance. The smaller vessels at this time having gotten within grape and canister distance, under the direction of Captain Elliott, and keeping up a well-directed fire, the two ships, a brig and a schooner, surrendered, a schooner and a sloop making a vain attempt to escape."—Perry's account of the battle.

Thousands on the American and British shores witnessed or listened to the conflict, conscious that upon the result depended the future of the Northwest. None listened with more patriotic eagerness than John Kinzie, already mentioned as the first resident of Chicago, then a prisoner at Maiden, having been removed from Detroit on suspicion that he was in correspondence with General Harrison. Kinzie was taking a promenade under guard, when he heard the guns on Lake Erie. The time allotted to the prisoner for his daily walk expired, but neither he nor his guard observed the fact, so anxiously were they catching every sound from what they now felt sure was an engagement between ships of war. At length Mr. Kinzie was reminded that the hour for his return to confinement had arrived. He pleaded for another half hour.

"Let me stay," said he, "till we can learn how the battle has gone."

Very soon a sloop appeared under press of sail, rounding the point, and presently two vessels in chase of her.

"She is running—she bears the British colors," cried Kinzie—"yes, yes, they are lowering—they are striking her flag! Now"—turning to the soldiers, "I will go back to prison contented. I know how the battle has gone."

The sloop was the Little Belt, the last of the British fleet to surrender, after a vain attempt to escape. The Father of Chicago had seen the end of the battle which made possible the Chicago of to-day.[3]

[3] John Kinzie was born at Quebec in 1763. After the war he went back to Chicago, and died January 6, 1828, aged 65 years.

Perry's victory compelled the enemy to evacuate Detroit, and all their posts in American territory except Michilimacinac, which place remained in the possession of the British until the close of the war. Soon after the battle of Lake Erie, General Harrison crossed to the Canadian shore, entered Maiden, and then passed on in pursuit of Proctor and Tecumseh, who were in full retreat up the valley of the Thames. In the battle of the Thames, which followed, the British were completely routed, and Tecumseh was slain. The Northwest was now secure. The British had been driven back and their Indian ally, Tecumseh, with his great scheme of an independent Indian power, had passed away.

* * *

In the Southwest, however, the struggle between whites and Indians continued to rage, the latter being led by a half-breed Creek named Weathersford. The massacre of more than four hundred men, women and children by the Creeks at Fort Mimms, in what is now Alabama, aroused the frontiers to fury, and Andrew Jackson, already known as "Old Hickory," the idol of his troops and the terror of the feeble War Department, took the field at the head of twenty-five hundred men. He showed himself a master of forest warfare, and in the bloody battle of Horseshoe Bend he broke the strength of the Creeks forever. Weathersford sought the tent of his conqueror, and asked for mercy for his people—not for himself. Jackson, who could respect in others the courage with which he was so eminently endowed, granted generous terms to the vanquished, and Weathersford lived thereafter in harmony with the whites. The autumn of 1813 witnessed the subjection of the hostile Indian tribes from the Lakes to the Gulf.

* * *

The American navy continued to distinguish itself on the ocean as on the lakes, in heroic defeat as well as in signal victory. While Captain David Porter, in the Essex, swept British commerce and privateers from the Pacific, starting out with a frigate and starting home with a fleet, all taken by himself during a cruise unsurpassed for skill, daring and success, Master-Commandant William Henry Allen, of the American brig Argus, lost his life and his vessel in battle with the British brig Pelican. The defeat of the Argus is believed to have been caused by the use of defective powder, which had been taken from on board a prize, and which did not give the cannon shot force enough to do serious damage to the enemy. Allen's death was due to his remaining on deck to direct his men after he had been seriously wounded. He was one of the best officers in the navy. The defeat and capture of the British brig-of-war Boxer, fourteen guns, after a sharp engagement, by the American schooner Enterprise, sixteen guns, in some degree compensated for the loss of the Argus. Captain Samuel Blythe, of the Boxer, nailed his colors to the mast and was killed at the first broadside. Lieutenant William Burrows, of the Enterprise, was mortally wounded, but lived long enough to have the British commander's sword placed in his hands. The splendid cruise of the Essex ended most unfortunately at Valparaiso, where the frigate was attacked while in port by the British thirty-six-gun frigate Phoebe and eighteen-gun ship-sloop Cherub. The Essex was in a disabled condition. The British stood off beyond reach of the American's short guns, and kept up a terrific cannonade with their long guns, of which the two British vessels had thirty-eight and the Essex only six. Captain Porter held out for about two hours under these unequal conditions, while his men were slaughtered and his vessel cut to pieces—he himself being foremost in exposure and danger. At length he surrendered. "Her colors," said the British commander, "were not struck until the loss in killed and wounded was so awfully great, and her shattered condition so seriously bad, as to render further resistance unavailing."

* * *

Fresh bitterness was added to the struggle about the close of 1813 by the imprudent and inhuman action of General McClure, the American commander at Fort George, in setting fire to the Canadian village of Newark in almost the depth of winter and turning out the inhabitants homeless wanderers in the snow. This outrage provoked but did not justify the massacre by the British of the helpless sick and unresisting at Fort Niagara, and the wasting of villages and settlements on the American side of the frontier. The invasion of Canada in 1814 by the Americans under General Jacob Brown proved little more than a border raid, although the Americans won a well-fought battle at Chippewa and a costly victory at Lundy's Lane, on both of which occasions General Winfield Scott gained merited distinction. The tide of war rolled back and forth a good deal like the old border strife between Scotland and England. Each side felt that it had wrongs to avenge, and wounds were inflicted by petty raids and skirmishes deeper and more rankling than those of a regular campaign. While these were the conditions on the northern frontier, the shores of the Republic were harassed by the fleet of Admiral Cockburn from Delaware Bay to Florida. Villages were plundered, plantations devastated and slaves carried off under the false promise of freedom, to be sold in the West Indies. The people living on and near the coast were kept in ceaseless alarm by these marauders, who descended in unexpected places, and inflicted all the damage within their power.

The overthrow of Napoleon in 1814, left the United States alone in hostility to Napoleon's triumphant foe, and the British government prepared to carry on the war vigorously. A powerful fleet appeared in Chesapeake Bay, and landed an army of about five thousand men under the command of General Robert Ross. The authorities at Washington were entirely unprepared for the attack, and the British, after defeating an American force, more like a mob than an army, at the battle of Bladensburg, marched into Washington. There, in a manner worthy of vandals, the public buildings, including the Capitol and the President's house, were given to the flames. While this act of barbarism was disapproved by the English people, it is not to be forgotten that it was hailed with delight and laudation by the British Government, and that a monument to General Ross was erected in Westminster Abbey. The British followed up the firing of Washington by an effort to capture Baltimore. The brave defenders of Fort McHenry held out successfully against Cockburn's fleet, and General Ross lost his life while attempting to co-operate with the fleet. Francis S. Key, a resident of Georgetown, D. C., was detained on board a British ship while Fort McHenry was being bombarded, and in the depth of his anxiety for his country's flag he wrote that famous song, "The Star Spangled Banner." Finding that their vandalism only served to inflame American patriotism instead of "chastising the Americans into submission," as Cockburn had been ordered to do, the invaders withdrew to their vessels.



CHAPTER XXVII.

British Designs on the Southwest—New Orleans as a City of Refuge—The Baratarians—The Pirates Reject British Advances—General Jackson Storms Pensacola—Captain Reid's Splendid Fight at Fayal—Edward Livingston Advises Jackson—Cotton Bales for Redoubts—The British Invasion—Jackson Attacks the British at Villere's—The Opposing Armies—General Pakenham Attempts to Carry Jackson's Lines by Storm—The British Charge—They Are Defeated with Frightful Slaughter—Pakenham Killed—Last Naval Engagement —The President-Endymion Fight—Peace—England Deserts the Indians as She Had Deserted the Tories—Decatur Chastises the Algerians.

An invasion of the Southwest by way of the Mississippi, and the seizure of New Orleans, were also included in the British plans. New Orleans at this time, although many good people were included among its inhabitants, attracted the refuse of the United States. The character of the place can be judged from an incident which occurred in Boston about the period of which I am writing. A merchant who had formed an establishment in Louisiana, happening to be in Boston, saw in a newspaper of that city a vessel advertised to sail thence for New Orleans. He called upon the owner, and asked him to consign the ship to his house. The owner told the applicant in strict confidence that he had no intention of sending the vessel to New Orleans, but had advertised that alleged destination in the hope that among the persons applying for a passage he should find a rascal who had defrauded one of his friends out of a considerable sum of money, "New Orleans," he added, "being the natural rendezvous of rogues and scoundrels." Among persons answering the latter description were the pirates known as "Baratarians," because they lived on Barataria Bay, just west of the mouths of the Mississippi River. They pretended to prey upon Spanish commerce only, but they made very little distinction and sold their plunder openly in the markets of New Orleans. The slave-trade was, however, their chief resource. They captured Spanish and other slaves on the high seas, and sold them to planters who were glad to buy for from $150 to $200 each, negroes worth three or four times that amount in the regular market. Jean Lafitte was the chief of these marauders. A Frenchman by origin he felt some attachment, it appears, to the country which tolerated him and his fellow-pirates, and when the commander of the British Gulf Squadron offered to pay the Baratarians to join him in an attack on New Orleans, Lafitte at once sent the dispatches received from the British to Governor Claiborne, of Louisiana. The people of New Orleans, under the leadership of Edward Livingston, the noted jurist, and former mayor of New York, organized a Committee of Safety, and prepared to assist in repelling the enemy. General Jackson, now major-general in the regular army, and in command of the Department of the South, repulsed the British from Mobile, and took Pensacola by storm, and thus freed from apprehension of an attack from Florida, he proceeded to defend New Orleans.

Fortunately for the American cause Captain Samuel C. Reid, commander of the privateer General Armstong, being attacked in the neutral harbor of Fayal by the British commodore, Lloyd, and his squadron, resisted the onset with such extraordinary courage and energy as to severely cripple his assailants. Captain Reid was obliged to scuttle his ship to prevent her from falling into the hands of the British, but the latter lost one hundred and twenty killed and one hundred and thirty wounded in the unequal battle, and Lloyd's squadron was not able to join the expedition at Jamaica until ten days after the date appointed for departure. The General Armstrong lost only two men killed and seven wounded in this memorable fight, which gave Jackson ample time to prepare the defence of New Orleans.

To New Orleans had resorted many adherents of the old Bourbon monarchy, driven from France by the Revolution, and also at a more recent date some of the followers of Napoleon. Among the former was a French emigrant major named St. Geme, who had once been in the English service in Jamaica, and now commanded a company in a battalion of citizens. This officer had been a favored companion of the distinguished French general, Moreau, when the latter, on a visit to Louisiana, a few years previously, had scanned with the critical eye of a tactician, the position of New Orleans and its capabilities of defence. Edward Livingston, who acted as an aide-de-camp to General Jackson, advised the general to consult St. Geme, and the latter pointed out the Rodriguez Canal as the position which Moreau himself had fixed upon as the most defensible, especially for irregular troops. Jackson approved and acted upon the advice thus given, and hastened to cast up intrenchments along the line of the canal from the Mississippi back to an impassable swamp two miles away. In building the redoubts the ground was found to be swampy and slimy, and the earth almost unavailable for any sort of fortification, whereupon a French engineer suggested the employment of cotton bales. The requisite cotton was at once taken from a barque already laden for Havana. The owner of the cotton, Vincent Nolte, complained to Edward Livingston, who was his usual legal adviser. "Well, Nolte," said Livingston, "since it is your cotton you will not mind the trouble of defending it."[1] Before the final battle a red hot ball set fire to the cotton, thereby endangering the gunpowder, and the cotton was removed, leaving only an earth embankment about five feet high, with a ditch in front to protect the Americans.

[1] A similar remark has been incorrectly attributed to Jackson.

The British troops, about 7000 in number, disembarked at Lake Borgne, after capturing an American flotilla which had been sent to prevent the landing. About nine miles from New Orleans, at Villere's Plantation, the invaders formed a camp, and they were suddenly attacked by Jackson on the evening of December 23. The battle raged fearfully in the darkness, Jackson's Tennesseans using knives and tomahawks with deadly effect. The Americans had the advantage, but in the fog and darkness Jackson could not follow up his success. Lieutenant-General Edward Pakenham, one of the bravest and ablest of Wellington's veterans, landed on Christmas Day with reinforcements which made the British army about 8000 strong. Jackson had planted heavy guns along his line of defence, and had about 4000 men to receive Pakenham. Among the most efficient of these were the 500 riflemen who fought with Jackson against the Creeks, and who were known as Coffee's brigade, from their commander's name. Trained in repeated encounters with the savages they knew little of military organization, but were inaccessible to fear, perfectly cool in danger, of great presence of mind and personal resource, and above all unerring marksmen. Among the New Orleans militia were several officers who had served under Napoleon, and had met on the battlefields of Europe the British veterans they were now about to confront in America. The Baratarians, too, should not be forgotten, and these, with the regular troops, the militia and the citizens, and many negroes, free and slave, composed about as mixed an array as ever fought a battle on American soil.[2]

[2] More than half of Jackson's command was composed of negroes, who were principally employed with the spade, but several battalions of them were armed, and in the presence of the whole army received the thanks of General Jackson for their gallantry. On each anniversary the negro survivors of the battle always turned out in large numbers—so large, indeed, as to excite the suspicion that they were not all genuine.—Albert D. Richardson.

The British made an assault on the twenty-eighth, and were repulsed with loss. On the night of December 31, they prepared for the closing struggle by erecting batteries upon which they mounted heavy ordnance within six hundred yards of the American breastworks. On the morning of January 1, 1815, the British opened fire, Jackson replying with his heavy guns. The British batteries were demolished, an attempt to turn the American flank was repulsed by Coffee and his riflemen, and the day ended in gloom and disaster for the invaders. The American forces, strengthened by the arrival of one thousand Kentuckians, awaited the renewal of the attack. Pakenham determined to carry Jackson's lines by storm. At dawn on January 8, the British advanced in solid column under a most destructive fire from the American batteries. On marched the men before whom the best troops of Napoleon had been unable to stand—on they marched as steadily as if on parade, the living closing in as the dead and wounded dropped out. Was it to be Badajos over again?

The British were within two hundred yards of the American breastworks. Suddenly the Tennessee and Kentucky sharpshooters, four ranks deep, rose from their concealment, and at the command—"Fire!"—a storm of bullets swept through the British lines. And it was not a single volley. As the Tennesseans fired they fell back and loaded, while the Kentuckians fired. And so the deadly blast of lead mowed down the British ranks while round and grape and chain-shot ploughed and shrieked through the now wavering battalions. General Pakenham, at the head of his men, urged them forward with encouraging words, while he had one horse shot under him and his bridle arm disabled by a bullet. The British rallied and rushed forward again amid the tempest of death. Pakenham, mortally wounded, was caught in the arms of his aid, and his troops, no longer sustained by their leader's presence and example, fell back in disorder. In this fearful charge the British lost 2600 men, killed, wounded and made prisoners. The Americans lost only eight killed and thirteen wounded. On the night of January 19, the British retired to their fleet.

* * *

The last naval engagement of the war took place in January, 1815, between the American frigate President, forty-four guns, commanded by Commodore Stephen Decatur, and the British frigate, Endymion, forty guns, Captain Hope. The battle began about three o'clock in the afternoon, and lasted until eleven o'clock at night, both commanders showing remarkable skill and resolution in the conflict, which was at long range. The Endymion was nearly dismantled and about to surrender when three other British men-of-war came up, and Decatur, being overpowered, had to strike his colors. The President had twenty-four men killed and fifty-six wounded, and the Endymion had eleven killed and fourteen wounded.

* * *

A treaty of peace had been signed at Ghent between the American and British commissioners on Christmas Eve, 1814. England yielded nothing and received nothing. The issues which had provoked the war were ignored in its termination—indeed it was unnecessary to deal with them. As Niles Register stated the case in December, 1814: "With the general pacification of Europe, the chief causes for which we went to war with Great Britain have, from the nature of things, ceased to affect us; it is not for us to quarrel for forms. Britain may pretend to any right she pleases, provided she does not exercise it to our injury." The moral effect of the war was, however, favorable to the United States. American naval victories and the battle of New Orleans taught England that America was not an enemy to be despised on either sea or land. The War of 1812 has sometimes been called the second War of Independence, and its effect certainly was to establish for the United States a respectable position among independent powers. Even England's satellites in the confederacy against Napoleon could not but admire the courage of the American people in bearding the British lion, and the chief magistrate of Ghent voiced the feeling of Europe when he offered the sentiment, at a dinner to the American Commissioners—"May they succeed in making an honorable peace to secure the liberty and independence of their country."

England had to give up her demand for special terms for the Indians who had assisted her in the war. The scheme to create an Indian nation in the Northwest, with permanent boundaries, not to be trespassed by the United States, was abandoned, although at first declared by the British Commissioners to be a sine qua non and the Indians had to accept terms dictated by the United States. The British had made lavish promises to the Indians when seeking them for allies, but the red men were deserted, as the loyalists of the Revolution had been deserted, at the close of hostilities. The Indians felt this keenly, especially as the Americans treated them as generously as if no hostilities had interrupted former relations.

* * *

Peace with England gave the United States opportunity to chastise the Algerians, whose Dey, Hadgi Ali, a sanguinary tyrant, had been committing outrages on American commerce ever since the beginning of the war with the British. Commodore Decatur was sent to the Mediterranean in May, 1815, with a squadron to chastise the Dey. He had no difficulty in encountering the Algerian corsairs, who supposed that the American navy no longer existed. Decatur, after a brief engagement, captured the Dey's flagship, and this was followed by the capture of another man-of-war belonging to the pirates. Decatur then sailed for Algiers with his squadron and prizes. The terrified despot appeared on the quarter-deck of Decatur's flagship, the Guerriere, gave up the captives in his hands, and signed a treaty dictated by the American commodore. Decatur then sailed to Tunis and Tripoli, and compelled the rulers of those States to make restitution for having allowed the British to capture American vessels in their harbors. In view of the services of the Danish consul, Mr. Nissen, when Captain Bainbridge was a prisoner in Tripoli, it is gratifying to know that Commodore Decatur, while in that port, secured the release of eight Danish seamen. History does not record whether Decatur, on this occasion, visited the lonely grave supposed to contain the mortal remains of Somers, the companion of his youth, and the hero of the gunpowder enterprise during the war with Tripoli. What emotions must have filled Decatur's mind as the old scenes brought back to him the memory of his own brave exploit—the destruction of the Philadelphia—and of the unhappy fate of his bosom friend!



South America Free.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

England and Spanish America—A Significant Declaration—The Key to England's Policy in South America—Alexander Hamilton and the South Americans—President Adams' Grandson a Filibuster—Origin of the Revolutions in South America—Colonial Zeal for Spain—Colonists Driven to Fight for Independence—A War of Extermination—Patriot Leaders—The British Assist the Revolutionists—American Caution and Reserve—The Monroe Doctrine—Why England Championed the Spanish-American Republics— A Free Field Desired for British Trade—The Holy Alliance—Secretary Canning and President Monroe—The Monroe Declaration Not British, But American.

The same motives which had prompted England to impose oppressive restrictions upon American trade, thereby driving the colonies to strike for independence, prompted her to assist South America in throwing off the yoke of Spain. England did not expect to conquer Spain's American colonies for herself, but she desired to liberate them in order to annex them commercially. Hardly had King George recognized the independence of the United States when his ministers were scheming to effect the independence of South America. As early as June 26, 1797, Thomas Picton, governor of the British island of Trinidad, in the West Indies, issued an address to certain revolutionists in Venezuela in which, speaking by authority of the British Minister of Foreign Affairs, he said:

"The object which at present I desire most particularly to recommend to your attention, is the means which might be best adapted to liberate the people of the continent near to the Island of Trinidad, from the oppressive and tyrannic system which supports, with so much rigor, the monopoly of commerce, under the title of exclusive registers, which their government licenses demand; also to draw the greatest advantages possible, and which the local situation of the island presents, by opening a direct and free communication with the other parts of the world, without prejudice to the commerce of the British nation. In order to fulfill this intention with greater facility, it will be prudent for your Excellency to animate the inhabitants of Trinidad in keeping up the communication which they had with those of Terra Firma, previous to the reduction of that island; under the assurance, that they will find there an entrepot, or general magazine, of every sort of goods whatever. To this end, his Britannic Majesty has determined, in council, to grant freedom to the ports of Trinidad, with a direct trade to Great Britain.

"With regard to the hopes you entertain of raising the spirits of those persons, with whom you are in correspondence, toward encouraging the inhabitants to resist the oppressive authority of their government, I have little more to say, than that they may be certain that, whenever they are in that disposition, they may receive, at your hands, all the succors to be expected from his Britannic Majesty, be it with forces, or with arms and ammunition to any extent; with the assurance, that the views of his Britannic Majesty go no further than to secure to them their independence, without pretending to any sovereignty over their country, nor even to interfere in the privileges of the people, nor in their political, civil or religious rights."

This declaration is the key to Great Britain's policy in Spanish America during the century since it was issued. The conspiracy which evoked Governor Picton's plain statement of England's attitude toward the South American colonies, was discovered by the Spanish authorities, and J. M. Espana, one of its leaders, was executed.[1] William Pitt continued to scheme for Spanish-American independence, and succeeded in enlisting the sympathy of Alexander Hamilton and Rufus King, American Minister at London. President John Adams, however, would have nothing to do with the movement, which he regarded as a plot to drive the United States into a British alliance against the French, and possibly this may have been in the mind of Pitt. The American people were not as cold as the President, however, on the subject of South America, and Francisco Miranda, a voluntary exile from Venezuela on account of his republican principles, succeeded in organizing a filibustering force in New York, one of the members of which was a grandson of the President himself. The expedition was defeated and nearly all engaged in it were captured by the Spaniards, among them young William S. Smith, John Adams' grandson. Yrujo, the Spanish Minister at Washington, offered to interpose in behalf of a pardon for the young man, but President Adams declined to use his exalted office to obtain any respite for the youth who had so unfortunately proved his inheritance of the old Adams' devotion to liberty. "My blood should flow upon a Spanish scaffold," wrote America's chief magistrate, "before I would meanly ask or accept a distinction in favor of my grandson." The young man's life was spared, however, and he returned to the United States.

[1] Espana was hanged and quartered. A writer in the New York Sun, commenting on Espana's death, said that "thus in the eighteenth century Spain repeated the barbarism perpetrated by England on William Wallace in 1305." It is unnecessary to go back to William Wallace or off the American continent for an act of barbarity similar to Espana's execution. In the same decade, one McLean, a former resident, if not a citizen of the United States, was hanged and quartered in Canada, by the sentence of a British court, on a trumped up charge of having been engaged in a treasonable conspiracy.

Francisco Miranda, who had made his escape to Barbadoes, raised a force of four hundred men, with the assistance of the British, landed in Venezuela, and proclaimed a provisional government. This expedition was also unsuccessful, and Miranda retired under the protection of a British man-of-war. At this time there was no general feeling in South America in favor of independence. Although some scattering sparks from the sacred altar of liberty had found their way into Spanish America; notwithstanding the severity of the colonial system, and the corruptions and abuses of power which everywhere prevailed; such was the habitual loyalty of the creoles of America; such the degradation and insignificance of the other races; so inveterate were the prejudices of all, and so powerful was the influence of a state religion, maintained by an established hierarchy, that it is probable the colonies would have continued, for successive ages, to be governed by a nation six thousand miles distant, who had no interest in common with them, and whose oppressions, they had borne for three centuries, had not that nation been shaken at home, by an extraordinary revolution, and its government overturned.[2]

[2] See Huntington's "View of South America and Mexico."

* * *

Among other good results which the ambition of Napoleon Bonaparte produced without intention on his part, was the uprising against Spanish oppression in South America. When Napoleon compelled Ferdinand to abdicate the crown of Spain in favor of Joseph Bonaparte, the loyalty and spirit of the Spaniards were aroused, and the people refused to submit to a monarch imposed on them by treachery and supported by foreign bayonets. In the provinces not occupied by the French, juntas were established which assumed the government of their districts; and that at Seville, styling itself the supreme junta of Spain and the Indies, despatched deputies to the different governments in America, requiring an acknowledgment of its authority; to obtain which, it was represented that the junta was acknowledged and obeyed throughout Spain. At the same time the regency created at Madrid by Ferdinand when he left his capital, and the junta at Asturias, each claimed superiority, and endeavored to direct the affairs of the nation.

Napoleon, on his part, was not less attentive to America; agents were sent in the name of Joseph, king of Spain, to communicate to the colonies the abdication of Ferdinand, and Joseph's accession to the throne, and to procure the recognition of his authority by the Americans. Thus the obedience of the colonies was demanded by no less than four tribunals, each claiming to possess supreme authority at home. There could scarcely have occurred a conjuncture more favorable for the colonists to throw off their dependence on Spain, being convulsed, as she was, by a civil war, the king a prisoner, the monarchy subverted and the people unable to agree among themselves where the supreme authority was vested, or which of the pretenders was to be obeyed. The power of the parent state over its colonies was de facto at an end; in consequence of which they were, in a measure, required to "provide new guards for their security." But so totally unprepared were the colonists for a political revolution that instead of these events being regarded as auspicious to their welfare, they only served to prove the strength of their loyalty and attachment to Spain. Notwithstanding that the viceroys and captain-generals, excepting the viceroy of New Spain, manifested a readiness to acquiesce in the cessions of Bayonne, to yield to the new order of things, and to sacrifice their king, provided they could retain their places, in which they were confirmed by the new king, the news of the occurrences in Spain filled the people with indignation; they publicly burnt the proclamations sent out by King Joseph, expelled his agents, and such was their rage that all Frenchmen in the colonies became objects of insult and execration. In their zeal, not for their own but for Spanish independence, the colonists, up to the year 1810, supplied not less than ninety millions of dollars to Spain to assist in carrying on the war against France.

* * *

At length, about the year 1809, the people of the several provinces began to form juntas of their own, not with the object of throwing off the Spanish yoke, but the better to protect themselves, should the French succeed in establishing their power in the peninsula. The Spanish viceroys, alarmed for their own authority, met the movement with unsparing hostility. In the city of Quito the popular junta was suppressed by an armed force, and hundreds of persons were massacred and the city plundered by the Spanish troops. Notwithstanding these cruelties the people remained faithful to the crown of Spain, and the junta of Caracas, having deposed the colonial officers, and organized a new administration, still acted in the name of Ferdinand the Seventh, and offered to aid in the prosecution of the war against France. The impotent Council of Regency, which pretended to represent the ancient government in Spain, treated the position taken by the colonists as a declaration of independence, and sent troops to dragoon the Americans into submission. Thus the Spanish-Americans were compelled to assume an independence of the mother country which they had neither sought nor desired, and on July 5, 1811, Venezuela took the lead in formally casting off allegiance to Spain.

The war which followed was of the most sanguinary character. The patriots of South America were denounced as rebels and traitors, and the vengeance of the State, and the anathemas of the Church, directed against them. That a contest commenced under such auspices should have become a war of extermination, and in its progress have exhibited horrid scenes of cruelty, desolation, and deliberate bloodshed; that all offers of accommodation were repelled with insult and outrage; capitulations violated, public faith disregarded, prisoners of war cruelly massacred, and the inhabitants persecuted, imprisoned, and put to death, cannot occasion surprise, however much it may excite indignation. As violence and cruelty always tend to provoke recrimination and revenge, the outrages of the Spaniards exasperated the Americans, and led to retaliation, which rendered the contest a war of death, as it was often called, characterized by a ferocious and savage spirit, scarcely surpassed by that of Cortes and Pizarro. The violent measures of the Spanish rulers, and the furious and cruel conduct of their agents in America, toward the patriots, produced an effect directly contrary to what was expected; but which nevertheless might have been foreseen, had the Spaniards taken counsel from experience instead of from their mortified pride and exasperated feelings. Arbitrary measures, enforced with vigor and cruelty, instead of extinguishing the spirit of independence, only served to enliven its latent sparks and blow them into flame. Miranda died in chains, and Hidalgo, the patriot priest of Mexico, was put to death by his cruel captors, but Bolivar and Paez, Sucre and San Martin, led the patriot armies to ultimate victory, and established the independence of Spanish America. Only one great revolutionary leader, Iturbide, failed to follow the example of Washington. Iturbide attempted to found an imperial dynasty in Mexico, and lost his life and his crown. Bolivar, on the other hand, with a foresight worthy of Washington himself, sought to form a general confederation of all the States of what was formerly Spanish America, with the object of uniting the resources and means of the several States for their general defence and security. This great project was accepted by Chile, Peru and Mexico, and treaties concluded in accordance therewith.

* * *

Throughout the South American struggle for independence Great Britain gave assistance to the patriots almost as freely and openly as if she had been at war with Spain. Veteran officers who had served in the British armies against Napoleon, joined the South American forces, and an Irish Legion of one thousand men, raised by General D'Evereux, sailed from Dublin for Colombia. A banquet was given to General D'Evereux, before his departure, at which two thousand guests were present, and the celebrated orator, Charles Philips, delivered a most eloquent address. Lord Cochrane, Earl of Dundonald, commanding the Chilian fleet, drove the Spaniards from the Pacific. American as well as English officers and seamen served under Cochrane's flag, and took part in his exploits, of which the most brilliant was the cutting out of a Spanish frigate from under the guns of Callao. Under the protection of the batteries of the castle of Callao lay three Spanish armed vessels, a forty-gun frigate and two sloops-of-war, guarded by fourteen gunboats. On the night of the fifth of November, 1820, Lord Cochrane, with 240 volunteers in fourteen boats, entered the inner harbor, and succeeded in cutting out the Spanish frigate with the loss of only forty-one men killed and wounded. The Spanish loss was 120 men. This success annihilated the Spanish naval power in those waters.

* * *

When a commissioner from the patriots of New Grenada applied at Washington in 1812, for assistance, President Madison answered that "though the United States were not in alliance, they were at peace with Spain, and could not therefore assist the independents; still, as inhabitants of the same continent, they wished well to their exertions." Notwithstanding the policy of the government, founded on the dictates of prudence and caution, the people of the United States almost universally felt a deep and lively interest in the success of their brethren in South America, engaged in the same desperate struggle for liberty which they themselves had gone through. Near the close of the year 1817, the President of the United States appointed three commissioners, Messrs. Rodney, Bland, and Graham, to visit the revolted colonies in South America and to ascertain their political condition, and their means and prospects of securing their independence; and early in 1818, the legislators of Kentucky adopted resolutions, expressing their sense of the propriety and expediency of the national government acknowledging the independence of the South American republics. These resolutions probably emanated from the influence of Henry Clay, from the first a zealous and steadfast friend of the South American patriots. Some Americans joined the patriot forces, and supplies of ammunition and muskets were furnished to them from this country. President Monroe was able to state to Congress, in 1819, that the greatest care had been taken to enforce the laws intended to preserve an impartial neutrality. Briefly summed up, the attitude of the American government throughout the South American struggle was one of distance, caution and reserve, while England boldly ignored international laws, and fought her way through her filibusters to the hearts and the commerce of the Spanish-Americans.

* * *

It is needless to go into extended discussion as to the authorship of the Monroe Doctrine. Intelligent self-interest inspired the United States and England to support the independence of South America. England's motive was chiefly commercial and partly political. She wanted Spanish America to be independent because the continent would thus be thrown open to British commerce, and because, not looking forward herself to territorial aggrandizement in that direction, she wished other powers to keep their hands off. The British government had no desire, in taking this position, to promote the growth and extension of republican institutions. The ruling class in Great Britain would doubtless have preferred to see every Spanish-American State a monarchy, provided that under monarchy it could be equally useful to the British empire and independent of every other European power. If England, in championing the Spanish-American republics seemed to champion republican institutions, it was because republican institutions gave the strongest assurance of political separation from Europe, and of a free field for Great Britain.[3]

[3] "The Spanish-American question is essentially settled. There will be no Congress upon it, and things will take their own course on that continent which cannot be otherwise than favorable to us. I have no objection to monarchy in Mexico; quite otherwise. Mr. Harvey's instructions authorize him to countenance and encourage any reasonable project for establishing it (project on the part of the Mexicans I mean), even in the person of a Spanish Infanta. But, as to putting it forward as a project, or proposition of ours, that is out of the question. Monarchy in Mexico, and monarchy in Brazil, would cure the evils of universal democracy, and prevent the drawing of the line of demarkation, which I most dread, America versus Europe. The United States naturally enough aim at this division, and cherish the democracy which leads to it. But I do not much apprehend their influence, even if I believed it. I do not altogether see any of the evidence of their activity in America. Mexico and they are too neighborly to be friends."—Canning, to the British Minister at Madrid, December 31, 1823.

On the part of the United States the Monroe Doctrine was the formal and authoritative expression of a sentiment which had animated American breasts from the origin of the Republic. The Monroe Doctrine is based on patriotism and self-preservation, and the crisis which called it forth was of the gravest consequence to the American people. The Spanish empire in America had never been a menace to the United States. It was too decrepit to be dangerous. Conditions would have been very different with France, for instance, or Prussia, established as a great South American power. There was the strongest reason for believing that the governments of continental Europe combined in the "Holy Alliance" seriously intended to dispose the destinies of South America, as they had divided the continent of Europe. The primary object of the allied powers—the proscription of all political reforms originating from the people—could leave no doubt of the concern and hostility with which they viewed the development of events in Spanish America, and the probable establishment of several independent, free States, resting on institutions emanating from the will and the valor of the people. But there is more specific evidence of their hostile intentions—Don Jose Vaventine Gomez, envoy from the government of Buenos Ayres at Paris, in a note to the secretary of his government of the twentieth of April, 1819, said that "the diminution of republican governments was a basis of the plans adopted by the holy alliance for the preservation of their thrones; and that in consequence, the republics of Holland, Venice, and Genoa, received their deathblow at Vienna, at the very time that the world was amused by the solemn declaration that all the States of Europe would be restored to the same situation they were in before the French revolution. The sovereigns assembled at Aix la Chapelle, have agreed, secretly, to draw the Americans to join them in this policy, when Spain should be undeceived, and have renounced the project of re-conquering her provinces; and the king of Portugal warmly promoted this plan through his ministers." France also sought by intrigue to secure the acceptance by the United Provinces and Chile of a monarchical government under French protection.

For the reasons before stated these designs naturally alarmed Canning, England's distinguished Minister of Foreign Affairs, and he proposed to Mr. Rush, the American Minister at London, that Great Britain and the United States should join in a protest against European interference with the independent States of Spanish America. This was in September 1823, and in a message of December 2, following, President Monroe uttered his famous declaration to the effect that "the United States would consider any attempt on the part of the European powers to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety."[4] Mr. Monroe's motive in issuing this declaration was wholly American and patriotic. England's designs were inevitably aided by the action of the American President, and the English Government approved and their press applauded America's resolute course, but it was not to win English applause, but to defend the integrity of the United States that the Monroe Doctrine was proclaimed to the world. The opposition of Great Britain and the attitude of the United States proved more than the Holy Alliance cared to confront, and the nations of Spanish America were allowed to enjoy without further molestation the independence which they had gained by years of heroic effort and sacrifice.

[4] "They (the United States) have aided us materially. The Congress (Verona) was broken in all its limbs before, but the President's (Monroe's) speech gives it the coup de grace. While I was hesitating in September what shape to give the protest and declaration I sounded Mr. Rush, the American Minister here, as to his powers and disposition to join in any step which we might take to prevent a hostile enterprise on the part of the European powers against Spanish America. He had not powers, but he would have taken upon himself to join with us if we would have begun by recognizing the Spanish-American States. This we could not do, and so we went on alone. But I have no doubt that his report to his government of this sounding, which he probably represented as an overture, had a great share in producing the explicit declarations of the President."—Canning to the British Minister at Madrid.



Progress.



CHAPTER XXIX.

The United States Taking the Lead in Civilization—Manhood Suffrage and Freedom of Worship—Humane Criminal Laws—Progress the Genius of the Nation—A Patriotic Report—State Builders in the Northwest—Illinois and the Union—Immigration—British Jealousy—An English Farmer's Opinion of America—Commerce and Manufactures—England Tries to Prevent Skilled Artisans from Emigrating—The Beginning of Protection—The British Turn on Their Friends the Algerians—General Jackson Invades Florida—Spain Sells Florida to the United States.

While holding their own against foreign enemies on land and sea the United States were assuming the lead in the march of civilization. Manhood suffrage was gradually taking the place of property suffrage, liberty of worship was recognized in practice as well as theory, and the criminal laws showed a growing spirit of humanity. Capital crimes were few, as compared with Great Britain. "The severity of our criminal laws," wrote William Bradford, the distinguished jurist, and for some time Attorney-General of the United States, "is an exotic plant, and not the growth of Pennsylvania." And Pennsylvania, when left to her own influences and tendencies by the success of the Revolution, was not slow to adopt humane and gratifying reforms, uttering far in advance of some other commonwealths the declaration that "to deter more effectually from the commission of crimes by continued visible punishment of long duration, and to make sanguinary punishments less necessary, houses ought to be provided for punishing by hard labor those who shall be convicted of crimes not capital." In September, 1786, the laws of that State were amended so as to substitute imprisonment at hard labor for capital punishment for robbery, burglary, and one other crime, and it was provided that no attainder should work corruption of blood in any case, and that the estates of persons committing suicide should descend to their natural heirs. It was likewise enacted that "every person convicted of bigamy, or of being accessory after the fact in any felony, or of receiving stolen goods, knowing them to have been stolen, or of any other offence not capital, for which, by the laws now in force, burning in the hand, cutting off the ears, nailing the ear or ears to the pillory, placing in and upon the pillory, whipping, or imprisonment for life, is, or may be inflicted, shall, instead of such parts of the punishment, be fined and sentenced to hard labor for any term not exceeding two years." Also, as if dreading that lax laws might lead to a carnival of crime, the legislators restricted the operation of the new and lenient statute to three years. The act was renewed, however, at the close of that term, and finally, in 1794, the reform of the criminal code was crowned with the declaration that "no crime whatever, excepting murder of the first degree, shall hereafter be punished with death."

Other States either kept pace with or followed the example of Pennsylvania in making their criminal laws more reformatory and less vindictive, and while England affected to despise American civilization, America was leading England in the march of humanity.

The genius of the nation was progress—not the spirit of the huckster, anxious for present gain, but the enlarged view of the patriot, anxious for the future weal of his country and his race. A striking expression of this spirit is shown in the report made in 1812 by Gouverneur Morris, De Witt Clinton and other eminent men on the practicability and prospects of the proposed Erie Canal. After boldly stating that the tolls from this work would amply repay the outlay required for its construction, the report adds: "It is impossible to ascertain and it is difficult to imagine how much toll would be collected; but like our advance in numbers and wealth, calculation out-runs fancy. Things which twenty years ago any man would have been laughed at for believing, we now see. * * * The life of an individual is short. The time is not distant when those who make this report will have passed away. But no time is fixed to the existence of a State; and the first wish of a patriot's heart is that his may be immortal." In the Northwest also, the State-builders of that day were equally farsighted in patriotic provision for the future. When it was proposed to admit Illinois as a State, Nathaniel Pope, delegate in Congress from that territory, urged, that the northern boundary should be extended to take in the port of Chicago, and a considerable coast-line on Lake Michigan, so as to give the State an interest in the lakes and bind it to the North as its southern frontiers bound it to the South and Southwest, thus checking any tendency to sectional disunion. Judge Pope pointed out that associations would thus be formed both with the North and South, and that a State thus situated, having a decided interest in the commerce, and in the preservation of the whole confederacy, could never consent to disunion. These views were happily successful in obtaining the approbation of Congress, and Illinois was saved from the limits which would have made it only a southern border State. In the Southwest, as well as in the North pioneers pushed rapidly into the wilderness, crossing the Mississippi and founding new States in which the long struggle between freedom and slavery was to begin.

* * *

When what may be called the blockade of Europe was raised by the final defeat of Napoleon, immigrants began to pour into the United States in large numbers. Many of them, like many immigrants to-day, became stranded in the cities of the coast, without resources and without employment, willing to work, but unable to get work. In February, 1817, James Buchanan, the British consul at New York, issued a warning against immigration to the United States, on the ground, as he alleged, of numerous applications made to his office for aid to return to Great Britain and Ireland, but at the same time the consul stated that he was authorized to place all desirable immigrants, who found themselves destitute in New York, in Upper Canada or Nova Scotia. Mr. Buchanan was evidently not so anxious to assist his fellow-subjects of King George as he was to promote the British policy of building up the Canadian territories as a counterpoise to the United States. While there was undoubtedly some distress among immigrants of the improvident class, those who came here with the determination to work generally found work before long at much better compensation than they could have earned in England, while those who proceeded to the new regions of the West had no difficulty in becoming independent and prosperous freeholders.

"In exchanging the condition of an English farmer for that of an American proprietor," wrote an intelligent immigrant, "I expect to suffer many inconveniences; but I am willing to make a great sacrifice of present ease, were it merely for the sake of obtaining in the decline of life, an exemption from that wearisome solicitude about pecuniary affairs from which even the affluent find no refuge in England; and, for my children, a career of enterprise and wholesome family connections in a society whose institutions are favorable to virtue; and at last the consolation of leaving them efficient members of a flourishing, public-spirited, energetic community; where the insolence of wealth and the servility of pauperism, between which in England there is scarcely an interval remaining, are alike unknown. * * * It has struck me as we have passed along from one poor hut to another, among the rude inhabitants of this infant State, that travelers in general who judge by comparison, are not qualified to form a fair estimate of these lonely settlers. Let a stranger make his tour through England in a course remote from the great roads, and going to no inns, take such, entertainment only as he might find in the cottage of laborers, he would have as much cause to complain of the rudeness of the people, and more of their drunkenness and profligacy than in these backwoods: although in England the poor are a part of society whose institutions are matured by the experience of two thousand years. But in their manners and morals, but especially in their knowledge and proud independence of mind, they exhibit a contrast so striking that he must be a petit maitre traveler, or ill-informed of the character and circumstances of his poor countrymen, or deficient in good and manly sentiment, who would not rejoice to transplant into these boundless regions of freedom the millions he has left behind him groveling in ignorance and want."[1]

[1] Notes on a journey in America from the coast of Virginia to the territory of Illinois, by M. Birkbeck.

While a great agricultural domain was being occupied in the West, commerce and manufactures were not neglected. American merchantmen visited every sea, no longer in dread of hostile Briton or Barbary pirate, and internal commerce received a mighty impulse from the steamboat. Meanwhile the foundations were laid of those vast manufacturing interests which were yet to overshadow commerce in the East. As early as 1810, the domestic manufactures of all descriptions were worth $127,694,602 annually, and it was estimated by competent authorities that of $36,793,249—the value of the manufactures of wool, cotton and flax, with their mixtures—fully two-thirds were produced in the houses of the farmers and other inhabitants. England had foreseen that America might prove a powerful rival in the manufacturing field, and Parliament enacted laws to prevent the emigration of skilled artisans. It may seem almost incredible that less than one hundred years ago such a prohibition existed, but I read in an account of a voyage from London to Boston in 1817 that "the passengers were summoned to appear at the Gravesend custom house, personally to deliver in their names and a statement of their professions. Had any been known to be artisans or manufacturers, they would have been stopped and forbidden to leave the kingdom. An act of Parliament imposes a heavy fine on those who induce them to attempt it." Samuel Slater, who brought the Arkwright patents in his brain, evaded the prohibition a few years after the Revolution, and his descendants are to-day among the wealthiest and most reputable of New England's citizens.

The war of 1812-15, gave a tremendous impulse to American manufactures through the exclusion of British and other foreign products. At the close of the war, however, when American ports were thrown open to the trade of Great Britain, the manufacturers of that country, with the deliberate purpose of crushing American industries out of existence, threw vast quantities of goods into the American markets, completely swamping native productions, and making it impossible for native manufacturers to compete with the importations. It was this ruinous relapse from comparative prosperity that prompted the agitation for a protective tariff. As further evidence of British purpose to do all the damage possible to American interests, even in time of peace, it may be mentioned that when Lord Exmouth, with a powerful fleet, visited Algiers in 1816, and negotiated a treaty between the Dey—Omar, the successor of Hadgi Ali—and the kings of Sardinia and Naples, the Algerians began to show themselves again hostile to the United States within a few days after the treaty. The public sentiment of Europe, however, made it impossible for England to make longer use of those pirates to injure commercial rivals, and the British Government, in deference to that sentiment, sought a quarrel with the Dey, bombarded Algiers, and compelled the Barbary States to agree to put an end to piracy—an agreement which remained for some time a dead letter.

* * *

The Louisiana Purchase was crowned in 1818 by the purchase of Florida from Spain. Spanish authority in North America had long been little more than a thin disguise, behind which the British plotted and operated against the welfare of the United States. General Jackson had found it necessary in 1814 to capture Pensacola, which the English were using as a base of hostilities. Again in 1818 General Jackson invaded Florida to punish Indians who, incited by British subjects under Spanish protection, were plundering and murdering in American settlements. Jackson took by force the Spanish post of St. Marks, entered Pensacola, and attacked the fort at Barrancas, compelling it to surrender. Two British subjects who had stirred up the Indians to attack the Americans were executed. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams sustained Jackson, notwithstanding the protests of Spain, and the latter power concluded to yield to the inevitable, and sold Florida to the United States on the extinction of the various American claims for spoliation, for the satisfaction of which the United States agreed to pay $5,000,000 to the claimants. Thus all foreign authority was extinguished in the Southeast and the American flag waved from the Florida Keys to the boundaries of New Spain.



CHAPTER XXX.

The Missouri Compromise—Erie Canal Opened—Political Parties and Great National Issues—President Jackson Crushes the United States Bank—South Carolina Pronounces the Tariff Law Void—Jackson's Energetic Action—A Compromise—Territory Reserved for the Indians—The Seminole War— Osceola's Vengeance—His Capture and Death—The Black Hawk War—Abraham Lincoln a Volunteer—Texas War for Independence—Massacre of the Alamo —Mexican Defeat at San Jacinto—The Mexican President a Captive—Texas Admitted to the Union—Oregon—American Statesmen Blinded by the Hudson Bay Company—Marcus Whitman's Ride—Oregon Saved to the Union—The "Dorr War."

The Missouri Compromise, by which Congress, after admitting Missouri as a slave State, took the parallel of thirty-six degrees thirty minutes as a dividing line through the rest of the Louisiana Purchase, between slavery and freedom, averted for another generation the great struggle between North and South. At peace with the rest of the world, the United States had time to devote to national development without the distraction of war, and financial questions, the tariff and internal improvements engrossed the attention of Congress and of the States. The opening of the Erie Canal, connecting Lake Erie with the Hudson River, in 1825, made central New York the great highway of commerce and of travel, and New York gradually became the leading State of the Union in population, wealth and trade. There was a strong agitation in favor of a general system of roads and canals, connecting the various parts of the country, and to be constructed at the expense of the nation, and not of the States. The party known as National Republicans, direct successors of the Federalists, supported this proposition, and also advocated a high tariff on imports and an extension of the charter of the United States Bank, about to expire in 1836. The Democratic Republicans, now known simply as Democrats, denied the constitutional authority of the national government to construct roads and canals, or to impose a tariff except for revenue, or to charter a national bank. During the administration of John Quincy Adams the National Republicans succeeded in having tariff laws enacted in 1824 and 1828, which gave substantial and, in the view of the Democrats, excessive protection to domestic manufactures.

General Andrew Jackson was elected President in 1828, after a most bitter contest, in which John Quincy Adams was his opponent. Jackson claimed—and the evidence seems to support his claim—that the United States Bank had used all its influence against him, and had even made antagonism to Jackson a condition of mercantile accommodation. He had long before been prejudiced against the bank through the stupid red tapeism of an agent of the bank in New Orleans who stood by a rule not intended for emergencies when Jackson needed money for his army. He was convinced that not only all the power of the bank, but all the power which the Federal Government could exert to defeat him had been exerted, and being victorious in despite of this opposition, he resolved to crush the bank and to make a clean sweep of the officeholders. The old pamphlets in the Astor Library which tell the story of the bank's struggle to escape annihilation are almost pathetic reading. The giant was prostrate, and his enemy had no mercy. In 1832 Jackson vetoed the bill to renew the charter of the bank. Re-elected President in 1832 by an overwhelming majority of votes in the Electoral College, Jackson, in the following year, removed the public money which had been deposited in the United States Bank, and distributed it among various State banks. The Senate censured Jackson, but the censure was expunged after a long struggle, in which Senator Thomas Hart Benton, of Missouri, championed the President.

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