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The Wars Between England and America
by T. C. Smith
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To make it certain that the United States should fail to secure favourable commercial rights, the ascendancy of the Whigs came to a sudden end within a year from its beginning. The Shelburne Ministry, which made the peace, had to meet the opposition not only of the Tories but of the group led by Fox. In the session of 1783, the Whig party {153} was thus openly split, and presently all England was scandalized to see Fox enter into a coalition with no less a person than Lord North for the purpose of obtaining office. Shelburne resigned on February 24, after the passage of a resolution of censure on the Peace; and George III, after trying every expedient to avoid what he considered a personal disgrace, was forced, on April 2, to admit Fox and North as Ministers under the nominal headship of the Duke of Portland. So Tories were restored to a share in the government, since nearly half of the coalition majority depended upon Tory votes. In December, 1783, the King, by a direct exercise of his influence, caused the Lords to throw out a Ministerial bill for the government of India and, dismissing the coalition Ministers, he appealed to William Pitt. That youthful politician, who had first entered office as Chancellor of the Exchequer under Shelburne, succeeded, after a sharp parliamentary contest, in breaking down the opposition majority in the House, and in a general election in March, 1784, won a great victory. Then, at the head of a mixed Cabinet, supported by Tories and King's Friends as well as by his own followers from among the Whigs, Pitt maintained himself, secure in the support of George III, but in no sense his agent or tool. In the {154} next few years, he made his hold secure by his skill in parliamentary leadership and his success in carrying financial and administrative reforms. This was the first peace Ministry since that of Pelham, 1746-1754, which won prestige through efficient government. It was, however, mainly Tory in temper, and as such distinctly cold and unfriendly toward America. Pitt himself was undoubtedly in favour of liberal commercial relations; but in that respect, as in the question of parliamentary reform, he followed the opinions of his supporters and of the nation.

The British policy toward the United States, under the circumstances, was dictated by a strict adherence to the principles set forth by Lord Sheffield. Pitt, while Chancellor of the Exchequer under Shelburne, introduced a very liberal Bill, which, if enacted, would have secured full commercial reciprocity, including the West India trade. This failed to pass, however, and was abandoned when Pitt left office in April, 1783. The Fox-North Ministry followed a different plan by causing Parliament to pass a Bill authorizing the Crown to regulate the trade with the West Indies. They then, by proclamation, allowed the islands to import certain articles from the United States, not including fish or lumber, and {155} only in British bottoms. It was hoped that Canada would take the place of the United States in supplying the West India colonies, and that British vessels would monopolize the carrying. In 1787 this action was ratified by Parliament, and the process of discouraging American shipping was adopted as a national policy. American vessels henceforward came under the terms of the Navigation Acts, and could take part only in the direct trade between their own country and England. When John Adams, in 1785, arrived at London as Minister, and tried to open the subject of a commercial treaty, he was unable to secure the slightest attention to the American requests and felt himself to be in an atmosphere of hostility and social contempt. The British policy proved in a few years fairly successful. It reduced American shipping trading with England, it drove American vessels from the British West Indies, and, owing to the impossibility of the States retaliating separately, it did not diminish the British market in America. Up to 1789, when the first Congress of the United States passed a navigation act and adopted discriminating duties, America remained commercially helpless. The profit went to British shipowners and merchants.

The American government naturally {156} turned to the other powers having American possessions, France and Spain, hoping to secure from them compensating advantages. So far as France was concerned, the government of Louis XVI was friendly; but its finances were in such confusion and its administration so unsteady after 1783 that Jefferson, Minister to France, could secure no important concessions save one. In 1784, as though to step into the place left vacant by the English, the French crown, by royal order, permitted direct trade between the United States and the French West Indies in vessels of less than sixty tons burden. The result was striking. In a few years the American molasses trade, driven from the British islands, took refuge at San Domingo, building up a tremendous sugar export and more than filling the place of the British trade. In 1790 the commerce of San Domingo surpassed that of all the British Islands together. Here again, French friendship shone in contrast to English antagonism. Every American shipowner felt the difference, and remembered it.

With Spain the United States was less successful. Jay, Secretary for Foreign Affairs, undertook negotiations through Diego Gardoqui, a Spaniard who, during the Revolution, had furnished many cargoes of supplies. He {157} found that country sharply dissatisfied over the boundary assigned to the United States. The British, in ceding Florida to Spain, had not turned over all of their province of 1763, but had handed that part of it north of thirty-two degrees to the United States, and, further, had granted the latter the free navigation of the Mississippi, through Spanish territory. Gardoqui offered in substance to make a commercial treaty provided the United States would surrender the claim to navigate the Mississippi for twenty years. Jay, to whose mind the interests of the seaboard shipowners and producers far outweighed the desires of the few settlers of the interior waters, was willing to make the agreement. But an angry protest went up from the southern States, whose land claims stretched to the Mississippi, and he could secure, in 1787, a vote of only seven States to five in Congress. Since all treaties required the consent of nine States, this vote killed the negotiations. Spain remained unfriendly, and continued to intrigue with the Indian tribes in the south-western United States with a view to retaining their support.

Further north, the United States found itself mortified and helpless before British antagonism. After 1783 the country had Canada on its northern border as a small but actively hostile neighbour, for there {158} thousands of proscribed and ruined Tories had taken refuge. The governors of Canada, Carlton and Simcoe, as well as the men commanding the frontier posts, had served against the Americans and regarded them as rivals. To secure the western fur trade and to retain a hold over the western Indians was recognized as the correct and necessary policy for Canada; and the British government, in response to Canadian suggestions, decided to retain their military posts along the Great Lakes within the boundaries of the United States. To justify them in so doing, they pointed with unanswerable truth to the fact that the United States had not carried out the provisions of the Treaty of 1783 regarding British debts, and that Tories, contrary to the letter and spirit of that treaty, were still proscribed by law. The State courts felt in no way bound to enforce the treaty, nor did State legislatures choose to carry it out. British debts remained uncollectible, and the British therefore retained their western posts and through them plied a lucrative trade with the Indians to the south of the Great Lakes.

In the years after the war, a steady flow of settlers entered the Ohio valley, resuming the movement begun before the Revolution, and took up land in Kentucky and the Northwest territory. By 1792 Kentucky {159} was ready to be admitted as a State, and Tennessee and Ohio were organized as territories. These settlers naturally found the Indians opposing their advance, and the years 1783-1794 are a chronicle of smouldering border warfare, broken by intermittent truces. During all this time it was the firm belief of the frontiersmen that the Indian hostility was stimulated by the British posts, and hatred of England and the English grew into an article of faith on their part. Ultimately, the new government under Washington undertook a decisive campaign. At first, in 1791, General St. Clair, invading Ohio with raw troops, was fearfully defeated, with butchery and mutilation of more than two-thirds of his force; but in 1794 General Wayne, with a more carefully drilled body, compelled the Indians to retreat. Yet with the British posts still there, a full control was impossible.

The new constitution, which gave the United States ample powers of enforcing treaties and making commercial discriminations, did not at once produce any alteration in the existing unsatisfactory situation. Spain remained steadily indifferent and unfriendly. France, undergoing the earlier stages of her own revolution, was incapable of carrying out any consistent action. The Pitt Ministry, absorbed in the game of European politics and in internal {160} legislation, sent a Minister, Hammond, but was content to let its commercial and frontier policies continue. But when, in 1792, the French Revolution took a graver character, with the overthrow of the monarchy, and when in 1793 England joined the European powers in the war against France, while all Europe watched with horror and panic the progress of the Reign of Terror in the French Republic, the situation of the United States was suddenly changed.

In the spring of 1793 there came the news of the war between England and France, and, following it by a few days only, an emissary from the French Republic, One and Indivisible, "Citizen Edmond Genet," arrived at Charleston, South Carolina, April 15. There now exploded a sudden overwhelming outburst of sympathy and enthusiasm for the French nation and the French cause. All the remembered help of the days of Yorktown, all the tradition of British oppression and ravages, all the recent irritation at the British trade discrimination and Indian policy coupled with appreciation of French concessions, swept crowds in every State and every town into a tempest of welcome to Genet. Shipowners rushed to apply for privateers' commissions, crowds adopted French democratic jargon and manners. Democratic clubs were formed on the model of the Jacobin {161} society, and "Civic Feasts," at which Genet was present, made the country resound. It looked as though the United States were certain to enter the European war as an ally of France out of sheer gratitude, democratic sympathy, and hatred for England. The French Minister, feeling the people behind him, hastened to send out privateers and acted as though the United States were already in open alliance.

It now fell to the Washington administration to decide a momentous question. Regardless of the past, regardless of the British policy since the peace, was it worth while to allow the country to become involved in war at this juncture? Decidedly not. Before Genet had presented his credentials, Washington and Jefferson had framed and issued a declaration of neutrality forbidding American citizens to violate the law of nations by giving aid to either side. It was not merely caution which led to this step. The Federalist leaders and most of their followers—men of property, standing, and law-abiding habits—were distinctly shocked at the horrors of the Reign of Terror, and felt with Burke, their old friend and defender in Revolutionary days, that such liberty as the French demanded was something altogether alien to that known in the United States or in England. And as the {162} news became more and more ghastly, the Federalists grew rapidly to regard England, with all its unfriendliness, with all its commercial selfishness, as the saving power of civilization, and France as the chief enemy on earth of God and man. The result was to precipitate the United States into a new contest, a struggle on the part of the Federalist administration, led by Hamilton and Washington, to hold back the country from being hurled into alliance with France or into war with England. In this, they had to meet the attack of the already organizing Republican party, and of many new adherents who flocked to it during the years of excitement.

The first contest was a short one. Genet, his head turned by his reception, resented the strict neutrality enforced by the administration, tried to compel it to recede, endeavoured to secure the exit of privateersmen in spite of their prohibition, and ultimately in fury appealed to the people against their government. This conduct lost him the support of even the most sanguine democrats, and, when the administration asked for his recall, he fell from his prominence unregretted. But his successor, Fauchet, a less extreme man, was warmly welcomed by the opposition leaders, including Madison and Randolph, Jefferson's {163} successor as Secretary of State, and was admitted into the inmost councils of the party.

Hardly was Genet disposed of when a more dangerous crisis arose, caused by the naval policy of England. When war broke out, the British cruisers, as was their custom, fell upon French commerce, and especially upon such neutral commerce as could, under the then announced principles of international law, be held liable to capture. Consequently, American vessels, plying their lucrative trade with the French West Indies, were seized and condemned by British West India prize courts. It was a British dogma, known as the Rule of 1756, that if trade by a neutral with enemies' colonies had been prohibited in peace, it became contraband in time of war, otherwise belligerents, by simply opening their ports, could employ neutrals to do their trading for them. In this case, the trade between the French West Indies and America had not been prohibited in peace, but the seizures were made none the less, causing a roar of indignation from the entire American seacoast. Late in 1793, the British Ministry added fresh fuel to the fire by declaring provisions taken to French territory to be contraband of war. If an intention to force the United States into alliance with France had been guiding the {164} Pitt Ministry, no better steps could have been devised to accomplish the end. As a matter of fact, the Pitt Ministry thought very little about it in the press of the tremendous European cataclysm.

When Congress met in December, 1793, the old questions of Hamilton's measures and the "monarchism" of the administration were forgotten in the new crisis. Apparently a large majority in the House, led by Madison, were ready to sequester British debts, declare an embargo, build a navy, and in general prepare for a bitter contest; but by great exertions the administration managed to stave off these drastic steps by promising to send a special diplomatic mission to prevent war. During the summer the excitement grew, for it was in this year that Wayne's campaign against the western Indians took place, which was generally believed to be rendered necessary by the British retention of the posts; and also in this same summer the inhabitants of western Pennsylvania broke into insurrection against the hated excise tax. This lawlessness was attributed by the Federalists, including Washington himself, to the demoralizing influence of the French Revolution, and was therefore suppressed by no less than 15,000 militia, an action denounced by the Republicans—as Randolph confided to the French Minister—as an example of {165} despotic brutality. Men were fast coming to be incapable of cool thought on party questions.

The special mission to England was undertaken by the Chief Justice, Jay, the most experienced diplomat in America since the death of Franklin. Upon arriving in England, he found the country wild with excitement and horror over the French Revolution, and with all its interest concentrated upon the effort to carry on war by land and sea. The Pitt Ministry was now supported by all Tories, representing the land-holding classes, the clergy, and the professions, and by nearly all the aristocratic Whigs. Burke, one-time defender of the American Revolution, was exhausting his energies in eloquent and extravagant denunciations of the French. Only a handful of radicals, led by Fox, Sheridan, and Camden, and representing a few constituents, still dared to proclaim liberal principles. In all other classes of society, democracy was regarded as synonymous with bestial anarchy and infidelity. Clearly the United States, from its very nature as a republic, could hope for no favour, in spite of the noticeably English prepossessions of Hamilton's party.

Jay dealt directly and informally with William Grenville, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and seems rapidly to have come to {166} the conclusion that it was for the interest of the United States to get whatever it could, rather than to endeavour to haggle over details with an immovable and indifferent Ministry, thereby hazarding all success. On his part, Grenville clearly did his best to establish a practicable working arrangement, agreeing with Jay in so framing the treaty as to waive "principles" and "claims" and to include precise provisions. The up-shot was that when Jay finished his negotiations he had secured a treaty which for the first time established a definite basis for commercial dealings and removed most of the dangerous outstanding difficulties. British debts were to be adjusted by a mixed commission, and American claims for unjust seizures in the West Indies were to be dealt with in similar fashion. The British were to evacuate the north-western military posts, and, while they did not withdraw or modify the so-called "rule of 1756," they agreed to a clear definition of contraband of war. They were also ready to admit American vessels of less than seventy tons to the British West Indies, provided the United States agreed not to export West India products for ten years. Here Jay, as in his dealings with Gardoqui, showed a willingness to make a considerable sacrifice in order to gain a definite small point. On the whole, the treaty {167} comprised all that the Pitt Ministry, engaged in a desperate war with the French Republic, was likely to concede.

The treaty left England in the winter of 1795 and reached America after the adjournment of Congress. Although it fell far short of what was hoped for, it still seemed to Washington wholly advisable to accept it under the circumstances as an alternative to further wrangling and probable war. Sent under seal of secrecy to the Senate, in special session, its contents were none the less revealed by an opposition senator, and a tempest of disappointment and anger swept the country. In every seaport Jay was execrated as a fool and traitor and burned in effigy. Washington watched unmoved. The Senate voted ratification by a bare two-thirds, but struck out the West India article, preferring to retain the power of re-exporting French West India produce rather than to acquire the direct trade with the English islands. Washington added his signature, the British government accepted the amendment, and the treaty came into effect. The West India privilege was, in fact, granted by the Pitt Ministry, as in the treaty, owing to the demands of the West India planters. In America the storm blew itself out in a few weeks of noise and anger, and the country settled down to make the best of the privileges {168} gained, which, however incomplete, were well worth the effort.

So the Federalist administration kept the United States neutral, and gave it at last a definite commercial status with England. It did more, for in August, 1795, the north-western Indians, beaten in battle and deprived of the presence of their protectors, made a treaty abandoning all claims to the region south of Lake Erie. The Spanish government, on hearing of the Jay treaty, came to terms in October, 1795, agreeing to the boundaries of 1783, granting a "right of deposit" to American trades down the Mississippi at or near New Orleans, and promising to abandon Indian intrigues. The diplomatic campaign of the Federalists seemed to be crowned with general success.

But in the process the passions of the American people had become deeply stirred, and by the end of 1795 the Federalist party could no longer, as at the outset, count on the support of all the mercantile elements and all the townspeople, for, by their policy toward France and England, Washington, Hamilton, and their associates had set themselves against the underlying prejudices and beliefs of the voters. The years of the strong government reaction were at an end. The time had come to fight for party existence.



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CHAPTER IX

THE TRIUMPH OF DEMOCRACY IN THE UNITED STATES, 1795-1805

With the temporary shelving of British antagonism, the Federalist administration passed its second great crisis; but it was immediately called upon to face new and equally serious differences with France which were ultimately to prove the cause of its downfall. The fundamental difficulty in the political situation in America was that the two parties were now so bitterly opposed as to render every governmental act a test of party strength. The Republicans, who accepted the leadership of Jefferson or of Clinton of New York, comprised all who favoured democracy in any sense—whether that of human equality, or local self-government, or freedom from taxes, or sympathy with France—and all who had any grievance against the administration, from frontiersmen whose cabins had not been protected against Indians or who had been forced to pay a whisky tax, to seamen whose ships had not been protected by the Jay treaty. In short, all in whom still persisted the deep-rooted colonial traditions of opposition to strong government and dislike of any but local authorities were {170} summoned to oppose an administration on the familiar ground that it was working against their liberties by corruption, usurpation, financial burdens, and gross partisanship for England and against France.

On the other side, the Federalists were rapidly acquiring a state of mind substantially Tory in character. They were coming to dread and detest "democracy" as dangerous to the family and to society as well as to government, and to identify it with the guillotine and the blasphemies of the Worship of Reason. In the furious attacks which, after the fashion of the day, the opposition papers hurled against every act of the Federalist leaders, and which aimed as much to defile their characters as to discredit their policies, they saw a pit of anarchy yawning. Between parties so constituted, no alternative remained but a fight to a finish; and, from the moment the Federalists became genuinely anti-democratic, they were doomed. Only accident or conspicuous success on the part of their leaders could delay their destruction. A single false step on their part meant ruin.

With the ratification of the Jay treaty, a long period of peaceful relations began between England and the United States. The American shipowners quickly adapted themselves to the situation, and were soon {171} prosperously occupied in neutral commerce. In England, American affairs dropped wholly out of public notice during the exciting and anxious years of the war of the second coalition. The Pitt Ministry ended, leaving the country under the grip of a rigid repression of all liberal thought or utterance, and was followed by the commonplace Toryism of Addington and his colleagues. Then came the Treaty of Amiens with France, the year of peace, the renewed war in 1803, and, after an interval of confused parliamentary wranglings, the return to power of Pitt in 1804, called by the voice of the nation to meet the crisis of the threatened French invasion. The United States was forgotten, diplomatic relations sank to mere routine. Such were the unquestionable benefits of the execrated treaty made by Jay and Grenville.

With France, however, American relations became suddenly strained, as a result of the same treaty. The French Republic, in the year 1795, was finally reorganized under a definite constitution as a Directorate—a republic with a plural executive of five. This government, ceasing to be merely a revolutionary body, undertook to play the game of grand politics and compelled all the neighbouring smaller States to submit to democratic revolutions, accept a constitution on the French model, and become {172} dependent allies of the French Republic. The local democratic faction, large or small, was in each case utilized to carry through this programme, which was always accompanied with corruption and plunder to swell the revenues of France and fill the pockets of the directors and their agents. Such a policy the Directorate now endeavoured, as a matter of course, to carry out with the United States, expecting to ally themselves with the Jeffersonian party and to bribe or bully the American Republic into a lucrative alliance. The way was prepared by the infatuation with which Randolph, Jefferson, Madison, and other Republican leaders had unbosomed themselves to Fauchet, and also by an unfortunate blunder which had led Washington to send James Monroe as Minister to France in 1794. This man was known to be an active sympathizer with France, and it was hoped that his influence would assist in keeping friendly relations; but his conduct was calculated to do nothing but harm. When the news of the Jay treaty came to France, the Directorate chose to regard it as an unfriendly act, and Monroe, sharing their feelings, exerted himself rather to mollify their resentment than to justify his country.

In 1796 a new Minister, Adet, was sent to the United States to remain only in case {173} the government should adopt a just policy toward France. This precipitated a party contest squarely on the issue of French relations. In the first place Congress, after a bitter struggle and by a bare majority, voted to appropriate the money to carry the Jay treaty into effect. This was a defeat for the French party. In the second place, in spite of a manifesto issued by Adet, threatening French displeasure, the presidential electors gave a majority of three votes for Adams over Jefferson to succeed Washington. The election had been a sharp party struggle, the whole theory of a deliberate choice by electors vanishing in the stress of partisan excitement. After this second defeat, the French Minister withdrew, severing diplomatic relations; and French vessels began to capture American merchantmen, to impress the country with the serious results of French irritation. The Washington administration now recalled Monroe and sent C. C. Pinckney to replace him, but the Directory, while showering compliments upon Monroe, refused to receive Pinckney at all and virtually expelled him from the country. In the midst of these annoying events, Washington's term closed, and the sorely tried man, disgusted with party abuse and what he felt to be national ingratitude, retired to his Virginia estates, no longer {174} the president of the whole country, but the leader of a faction. His Farewell Address showed, under its stately phrases, his detestation of party controversy and his fears for the future.

Washington's successor, Adams, was a man of less calmness and steadiness of soul; independent, but with a somewhat petulant habit of mind, and nervously afraid of ceasing to be independent; a man of sound sense, yet of a too great personal vanity. His treatment of the French situation showed national pride and dignity as well as an adherence to the traditional Federalist policy of avoiding war. Unfortunately, his handling of the party leaders was so deficient in tact as to assist in bringing quick and final defeat upon himself and upon them.

The relations with France rapidly developed into an international scandal. Adams, supported by his party, determined to send a mission of three, including Pinckney, in order to restore friendly relations, as well as to protest against depredations and seizures which the few French cruisers at sea were now beginning to make. In the spring of 1798, however, the commission reported that its efforts had failed, and Adams was obliged to lay its correspondence before Congress. This showed that the great obstacle in the way of carrying on {175} negotiations with the French had been the persistent demands on the part of Talleyrand—the French Minister of Foreign Affairs—for a preliminary money payment, either under the form of a so-called "loan" or as a bribe outright. Such a revelation of venality struck dumb the Republican leaders who had kept asserting their distrust of Adams's sincerity and accusing the administration of injustice toward France. It took all heart out of the opposition members of Congress, and encouraged the Federalists to commit the government to actual hostilities with the hated Democrats and Jacobins. Declaring the treaties of 1778 to be abrogated, Congress authorized naval reprisals, voted money and a loan, and so began what was called a "quasi-war," since neither side made a formal declaration. Adams, riding on the crest of a brief wave of popularity, declared in a message to Congress that he would never send another Minister to France without receiving assurances that he would be received as "befitted the representative of a great, free, powerful, and independent nation." "Millions for defence, but not a cent for tribute!" became the Federalist watch-word; and, when the little navy of a few frigates and sloops began to bring in French men-of-war and privateers as prizes, the country actually felt a thrill of pride and {176} manhood. For the moment, the United States stood side by side with England in fighting the dangerous enemy of civilization. American Federalist and British Tory were at one; Adams and Pitt were carrying on the same war.

Unfortunately for the Federalists, they failed to appreciate the fundamental differences between the situation in England and in the United States, for they went on to imitate the mother country not merely in fighting the French, but in seeking to suppress what they felt to be dangerous "Jacobinical" features of American politics. In the summer of 1798, three laws were enacted which have become synonymous with party folly. Two—the Alien Acts—authorized the President at his discretion to imprison or deport any alien, friend or enemy; the third—the Sedition Act—punished by fine and imprisonment any utterance or publication tending to cause opposition to a federal law or to bring into contempt the federal government or any of its officers. Such statutes had stood in England since 1793 and were used to suppress democratic assailants of the monarchy; but such a law in the United States could mean nothing more than the suppression by Federalist courts of criticisms upon the administration made by Republican newspapers. {177} It furnished every opposition agitator with a deadly weapon for use against the administration; and when the Sedition Law was actually enforced, and a half-dozen Republican editors were subjected to fine or imprisonment for scurrilous but scarcely dangerous utterances, the demonstration of the inherently tyrannical nature of the Federalists seemed to be complete. It was an unpardonable political blunder.

Equally damaging to the prosperity of the Federalist party was the fact that the French Republic, instead of accepting the issue, showed a complete unwillingness to fight, and protested in public that it was having a war forced upon it. Talleyrand showered upon the United States, through every channel, official or unofficial, assurances of kindly feelings, and, so soon as he learned of Adams's demand for a suitable reception for an American Minister, gave the required assurance in his exact words. Under the circumstances, the war preparations of the Federalists became visibly superfluous, especially a provisional army which Congress had authorized under Hamilton as active commander. The opposition press and speakers denounced this as a Federalist army destined to act against the liberties of the people; and the administration could point to no real danger to justify its existence.

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So high ran party spirit that the Virginian leaders thought or affected to think it necessary to prepare for armed resistance to Federalist oppression; and Madison and Jefferson, acting through the State legislatures of Virginia and Kentucky respectively, caused the adoption of two striking series of resolutions stating the crisis in Republican phraseology. In each case, after denouncing the Alien and Sedition laws as unconstitutional, the legislatures declared that the constitution was nothing more than a compact between sovereign States; that the Federal government, the creature of the compact, was not the final judge of its powers, and that in case of a palpable usurpation of powers by the Federal government it was the duty of the States to "interpose," in the words of Madison, or to "nullify" the Federal law, as Jefferson phrased it. Such language seemed to Washington, Adams, and their party to signify that the time was coming when they must fight for national existence; but to the opposition it seemed no more than a restatement of time-hallowed American principles of government, necessary to save liberty from a reactionary faction. Party hatred now rivalled that between revolutionary Whigs and Tories.

Under these circumstances the election of 1800 took place. The Federalist party {179} leaders, feeling the ground quaking under them, clung the more desperately to the continuance of the French "quasi-war" as their sole means for rallying popular support. But at this stage President Adams, seeing the folly of perpetuating a sham war for mere party advantage, determined to reopen negotiations. This precipitated a bitter quarrel, for the members of his Cabinet and the leading congressmen still regarded Hamilton, now a private citizen in New York, as the real leader, and followed him in urging the continuance of hostilities. Adams, unable to manage his party opponents openly, took refuge in sudden, secret, and, as they felt, treacherous conduct and sent nominations for a new French mission without consulting his advisers. The Federalist Senate, raging at Adams's stupidity, could not refuse to ratify the appointments, and so in 1799 the new mission sailed, was respectfully received by Bonaparte, and was promptly admitted to negotiations.

The Federalist party now ran straight toward defeat; for, while the leaders could not avoid supporting Adams for a second term, they hated him as a blunderer and marplot. On his part, his patience exhausted, Adams dismissed two of his secretaries, in a passion, in 1800. Later, through the wiles of Aaron Burr, Republican leader in New {180} York, a pamphlet, written by Hamilton to prove Adams's utter unfitness for the Presidency, was brought to light and circulated. Against this discredited and disorganized party, the Republicans, supporting Jefferson again for the Presidency and thundering against the Sedition Law, triumphantly carried a clear majority of electoral votes in the autumn; but by a sheer oversight they gave an equal number for Jefferson and for Burr, who was only intended for Vice-president. Hence under the terms of the constitution it became necessary for the House of Representatives to make the final selection, voting by States. It fell thus to the lot of the Federalist House of 1800-1801 to choose the next President, and for a while the members showed an inclination to support Burr, as at least a Northerner, rather than Jefferson. But better judgments ruled, and finally Jefferson was awarded the place which he had in fairness won. The last weeks of Federalist rule was filled with a discreditable effort to save what was possible from the wreck. New offices were established, including a whole system of circuit judgeships; and Adams spent his time up to the last hour of his term in signing commissions, stealing away in the early morning in order not to see the inauguration of his rival.

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So fell the Federalist party from power. It had a brilliant record in legislation and administration; it had created a new United States; it had shown a statesmanship never equalled before or since on the American continent; but it ruined itself by endeavouring openly to establish a system of government founded on distrust of the people, and modelled after British precedents. For a few years, England and the United States approached nearer in government and policy than at any other time. But, while in England a large part of society—the nobility, gentry, middle classes, the professions, the church, and all strong political elements—supported Pitt in suppressing free speech and individual liberty, the Federalists represented only a minority, and their social principles were abhorrent to the vast majority of the inhabitants of the United States.

The Republican party, which conquered by what Jefferson considered to be a revolution no less important than that of 1776, represented a reaction to the old ideals of government traditional in colonial times,—namely as little taxation as possible, as much local independence as could exist, and the minimum of Federal authority. Jefferson professed to believe that the conduct of foreign relations was the only important function of the central government, {182} all else properly belonging to the States. So complete was the Republican victory that the party had full power to put its principles into effect. It controlled both Houses of Congress, and was blessed with four years of peace and prosperity. Thomas Jefferson, for all his radicalism in language, was a shrewd party leader, whose actions were uniformly cautious and whose entire habit of mind favoured avoidance of any violent change. "Scientific" with the general interests of a French eighteenth-century "philosopher," he was limited in his views of public policy by his education as a Virginia planter, wholly out of sympathy with finance, commerce, or business. Under his guidance, accordingly, the United States government was subjected to what he called "a chaste reformation," rather than to a general overturning.

All expenses were cut down, chiefly at the cost of the army and navy; all appropriations were rigorously diminished, and all internal taxes were swept away. Since commerce continued active, there still remained a surplus revenue, and this Gallatin, the Secretary of the Treasury, applied to extinguishing the debt. A few of the more important Federal offices were taken from embittered Federalists and given to Republicans, but there was no general {183} proscription of office-holders. The only action at all radical in character was the repeal of the law establishing new circuit judgeships, a step which legislated a number of Federalists out of office. The repeal was denounced by fervid Federalist orators as a violation of the constitution and a death-blow to the Union; but the appointments under the law itself had been so grossly partisan that the country was unalarmed. With these steps the Republican reaction ended. Jefferson and his party carried through no alteration of the central departments; they abandoned no Federal power except that of imposing an excise; they did not even repeal the charter of the National Bank. The real change lay in the more strictly economical finances and in the general spirit of government. The Federalist opposition, criticizing every act with bitterness and continually predicting ruin, found that under the "Jacobins" the country remained contented and prosperous and was in no more danger of atheism or the guillotine than it had been under Adams. So matters went on, year after year, the Federal government playing its part quietly and the American people carrying on their vocations in peace and prosperity.

Jefferson's general theory of foreign affairs was based on the idea that diplomacy was {184} mainly a matter of bargain and sale, with national commerce as the deciding factor. He believed so firmly that national self-interest would lead all European powers to make suitable treaties with the United States that he considered the navy as wholly superfluous, and would have been glad to sell it. But when circumstances arose calling for a different sort of diplomacy, he was ready to modify his methods; and he so far recognized the unsuitability of peaceful measures in dealing with the Barbary corsairs as to permit the small American navy to carry on extensive operations during 1801-3, which ended in the submission of Tripoli and Algiers.

Simultaneously, Jefferson was brought face to face with a diplomatic crisis, arising from the peculiar actions of his old ally, France. At the outset of his administration, he found the treaty made by Adams's commissioners in 1800 ready for ratification, and thus began his career with all questions settled, thanks to his predecessor. But he had been in office only a few months when the behaviour of the Spanish officials at New Orleans gave cause for alarm; for they suddenly terminated the right of deposit, granted in 1795. It was quickly rumoured that the reason was to be found in the fact that France, now under the First Consul, Napoleon, {185} had regained Louisiana. It was, in fact, true. Bonaparte overthrew the Directory in 1799 and established himself, under the thin disguise of "First Consul," as practical military despot in France. He had immediately embraced the idea of establishing a western colonial empire, which should be based on San Domingo, now controlled by insurgent negroes, and which should include Louisiana. By a treaty of October 1, 1800, he compelled Spain to retrocede the former French province in return for a promise to establish a kingdom of "Etruria" for a Spanish prince. During 1802 large armaments sailed to San Domingo and began the process of reconquest. It needed only the completion of that task for Napoleon to be ready to take over Louisiana, and thereby to gain absolute control over the one outlet from the interior territories of the United States.

Jefferson at once recognized the extreme gravity of the situation. During the years after the English, Spanish, and Indian treaties, emigrants had steadily worked their way into the inner river valleys. Western New York and Pennsylvania were rapidly filling, Ohio was settled up to the Indian treaty line, Kentucky and Tennessee were doubling in population, and fringes of pioneer communities stretched along the Ohio and {186} Mississippi rivers. In 1796 Tennessee was admitted as a State, and Ohio was now, in 1801, on the point of asking admission. For France to shut the only possible outlet for these communities would be a sentence of economic death; and Jefferson was so deeply moved as to write to Livingston, his Minister to France, that if the rumour of the cession were true, "We must marry ourselves to the British fleet and nation." The United States must fight rather than submit. He sent Monroe to France, instructed to buy an outlet, but the latter only arrived in time to join with Livingston in signing a treaty for the purchase of the whole of Louisiana.

This startling event was the result of the failure of Napoleon's forces to reconquer San Domingo. Foreseeing the loss of Louisiana in case of the probable renewal of war with England, and desirous of money for immediate use, the Corsican adventurer suddenly threw Louisiana into the astonished hands of Livingston and Monroe. He had never, it is true, given Spain the promised compensation; he had never taken possession, and he had promised not to sell it; but such trifles never impeded Napoleon, nor, in this case, did they hinder Jefferson. When the treaty came to America, Congress was quickly convened, the Senate voted to ratify, the money was appropriated, and the whole {187} vast region was bought for the sum of sixty million francs. Jefferson himself, the apostle of a strict construction of the constitution, could not discover any clause authorizing such a purchase; but his party was undisturbed, and the great annexation was carried through, Jefferson acquiescing in the inconsistency.

The chagrin of the Federalists at this enormous south-westward extension of the country was exceeded only by their alarm when an attempt was made to eject certain extremely partisan judges from their offices in Pennsylvania and on the Federal bench by the process of impeachment. In the first two cases the effort was successful, one Pennsylvania judge and one Federal district judge being ejected; but when, in 1805, the attack was aimed at the Pennsylvania supreme justices and at Justice Chase of the United States Supreme Court, the process broke down. The defence of the accused judges was legally too strong to be overcome, and each impeachment failed. With this the last echo of the party contest seemed to end, for by this time the Federalists were too discredited and too weak to make a political struggle. Their membership in Congress had shrunk to small figures, they had lost State after State, and in 1804 they practically let Jefferson's re-election go by default. He received all but fourteen {188} electoral votes, out of 176. Some of the New England leaders plotted secession, but they were not strong enough for that. The party seemed dead. In 1804 its ablest mind, Hamilton, was killed in a duel with Burr, the Vice-president, and nobody remained capable of national leadership.

So the year 1805 opened in humdrum prosperity and national self-satisfaction. Jefferson could look upon a country in which he held a position rivalled only by that of a European monarch or an English prime minister. The principles of Republican equality, of States' rights, of economy and retrenchment, of peace and local self-government seemed triumphant beyond reach of attack. While Europe resounded with battles and marches, America lived in contented isolation, free from the cares of unhappy nations living under the ancient ideals.



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CHAPTER X

THE SECOND PERIOD OF COMMERCIAL ANTAGONISM, 1805-1812

In the year 1805, the happy era of Republican prosperity and complacency came suddenly and violently to an end, for by this time forces were in operation which drew the United States, in utter disregard of Jefferson's theories, into the sweep of the tremendous political cyclone raging in Europe. In 1803, Napoleon forced England into renewed war, and for two years endeavoured by elaborate naval manoeuvres to secure control of the Channel for a sufficient time to permit him to transport his "Grand Army" to the British shore. In 1805, however, these plans broke down; and the crushing defeat of the allied French and Spanish navies at Trafalgar marked the end of any attempt to challenge British maritime supremacy. The great military machine of the French army was then turned eastward against the armies of the coalition which England, under Pitt, was forming; and in a series of astonishing campaigns it was used to beat down the Austrians in 1805 at Austerlitz; to overwhelm the Prussians in 1806 at Jena and Auerstadt; and to force the Russians, after {190} a severe winter campaign in East Prussia, to come to terms in 1807. Napoleon and the Tsar, Alexander, meeting on the bridge at Tilsit, July 7, divided Europe between them by agreeing upon a policy of spheres of interest, which left Turkey and the Orient for Russian expansion and all the beaten western monarchies for French domination. The Corsican captain, trampling on the ruins both of the French monarchy and the French Republic, stood as the most terrible and astounding figure in the world, invincible by land, the master of Europe.

But the withdrawal of the French from any attempt to contest the sea left England the equally undisputed master of all oceans, and rendered the French wholly dependent upon neutral nations for commerce. As French conquests led to annexations of territory in Italy and in Germany, these regions also found themselves unable to import with their own vessels, and so neutral commerce found ever-increasing markets dependent upon its activity. Now the most energetic maritime neutral power was the United States, whose merchantmen hastened to occupy the field left vacant by the practical extinction of the French carrying trade. Until 1807 they shared this with the Scandinavian countries; but after that year Napoleon, by threats and the terror {191} of his name, forced an unwelcome alliance upon all the States of Europe, and the United States became the sole important neutral.

In these circumstances, the merchant shipping of the United States flourished enormously, the more especially since, by importing and immediately re-exporting West India products from the French islands, Yankee skippers were able to avoid the dangerous "Rule of 1756," and to send sugar and cocoa from French colonies to Europe and England under the guise of American produce. By 1805, the whole supply of European sugar was carried in American bottoms, to the enormous profit of the United States. American ships also shared largely in the coasting trade of Europe, carrying goods between ports where British ships were naturally excluded. In fact, the great prosperity and high customs receipts to which the financial success of the Jeffersonians was due depended to a great extent on the fortunate neutral situation of the United States.

By 1805, the British shipowners felt that flesh and blood could not endure the situation. Here were France and her allies easily escaping the hardships of British naval pressure by employing neutrals to carry on their trade. Worse still, the Americans, by the device of entering and clearing {192} French sugar at an American port, were now able calmly to take it to England and undersell the West Indian planters in their own home markets. Pamphleteers began to criticize the government for permitting such unfair competition, Lord Sheffield, as in 1783, leading the way. In October, 1805, James Stephen, a far abler writer, summed up the anger of the British ship-owners and naval officers in a pamphlet entitled, "War in disguise, or the Frauds of the Neutral Trade." He asserted that the whole American neutral commerce was nothing more or less than an evasion of the Rule of 1756 for the joint benefit of France and the United States, and he called upon the government to put a stop to this practical alliance of America with Napoleon. This utterance seems to have made a profound impression; for a time Stephen's views became the fixed beliefs of influential public men as well as of the naval and shipowning interests.

The first steps indicating British restlessness were taken by the Pitt Ministry, which began, in 1804, a policy of rigid naval search for contraband cargoes, largely carried on off American ports. Whatever friendly views Pitt may once have entertained toward the Americans, his Ministry now had for its sole object the contest with {193} France and the protection of British interests. In July, 1805, a severe blow was suddenly struck by Sir William Scott, who as chief Admiralty judge rendered a decision to the effect that French sugar, entered at an American custom-house and re-exported with a rebate of the duty, was good prize under the Rule of 1756. This placed all American re-exportation of French West Indian produce at the mercy of British cruisers; and the summer of 1805 saw a sudden descent of naval officers upon their prey, causing an outcry of anger from every seaport between Maine and Maryland. The day of reckoning had come, and Jefferson and Madison, his Secretary of State, were compelled to meet the crisis. Fortunately, as it appeared, for the United States, the Pitt Ministry ended with the death of its leader on January 23, 1806, and was succeeded by a coalition in which Lord Grenville, author of the Jay treaty, was prime Minister, and Fox, an avowed friend of America, was Foreign Secretary. While it was not reasonably to be expected that any British Ministry would throw over the traditional naval policy of impressments or venture to run directly counter to shipping interests, it was open to anticipation that some such compromise as the Jay treaty might be agreed upon, which would relieve the United {194} States from arbitrary exactions during the European war. The Grenville Ministry showed its good intentions by abandoning the policy of captures authorized by Scott, and substituting, on May 16, 1806, a blockade of the French coast from Ostend to the Seine. This answered the purpose of hindering trade with France without raising troublesome questions, and actually allowed American vessels to take sugar to Northern Europe.

Between 1804 and 1806, Jefferson had brought the United States to the verge of war with Spain through insisting that Napoleon's cession of Louisiana had included West Florida. At the moment when British seizures began, he was attempting at once to frighten Spain by warlike words and, by a payment of two million dollars, to induce France to compel Spain to acknowledge the American title to the disputed territory. For a number of years, therefore, and until the scheme fell through, Jefferson cultivated especially friendly relations with the government of Napoleon, not from any of the former Republican enthusiasm, but solely on diplomatic grounds. Hence, although nominally neutral in the great war, he bore the appearance of a French partisan.

Jefferson felt that he had in his possession a thoroughly adequate means to secure {195} favourable treatment from England, by simply threatening commercial retaliation. The American trade, he believed, was so necessary to the prosperity of England that for the sake of retaining it that country would make any reasonable concession. That there was a basis of truth in this belief it would be impossible to deny; for England consumed American cotton and exported largely to American markets. With this trade cut off, manufacturers and exporters would suffer, as they had suffered in the revolutionary period. But Jefferson ignored what every American merchant knew, that military and naval considerations weighed fully as heavily with England as mercantile needs, and that a country which had neither a ship-of-the-line, nor a single army corps in existence, commanded, in an age of world warfare, very slight respect. Jefferson's prejudice against professional armed forces and his ideal of war as a purely voluntary matter, carried on as in colonial times, was sufficiently proclaimed by him to be well understood across the Atlantic. Openly disbelieving in war, avowedly determined not to fight, he approached a nation struggling for life with the greatest military power on earth, and called upon it to come to terms for business reasons.

His first effort was made by causing {196} Congress to pass a Non-importation Act, excluding certain British goods, which was not to go into effect until the end of 1806. With this as his sole weapon, he sent Monroe to make a new treaty, demanding free commerce and the cessation of the impressment of seamen from American vessels in return for the continued non-enforcement of the Non-importation Act. Such a task was more difficult than that laid upon Jay twelve years before; and Monroe, in spite of the fact that he was dealing with the same Minister, failed to accomplish even so much as his predecessor. From August to December he negotiated, first with Lord Holland, then, after Fox's death, with Lord Howick; but the treaty which he signed on December 1, 1806, contained not one of the points named in his instructions. Monroe found the British willing to make only an agreement like the Jay treaty which, while containing special provisions to render the situation tolerable, should refuse to yield any British contentions. That was the Whig policy as much in 1806 as it had been in 1766. The concessions were slight; and the chief one, regarding the re-exportation of French West Indian produce, permitted it only on condition that the goods were bona fide of American ownership, and had paid in the United States a duty of at least two per cent. Jefferson {197} did not even submit the treaty to the Senate.

After this failure, the situation grew graver. Napoleon, in December, 1806, issued from Berlin a decree declaring that, in retaliation for the aggressions of England upon neutral commerce, the British Isles were in blockade and all trade with them was forbidden. British goods were to be absolutely excluded from the continent. The reply of the Grenville Ministry to this was an Order in Council, January, 1807, prohibiting neutral vessels from trading between the ports of France or her allies; but this was denounced as utterly weak by Perceval and Canning in opposition. In April, 1807, the Grenville Ministry, turned out of office by the half insane George III, was replaced by a thoroughly Tory cabinet, under the Duke of Portland, whose chief members in the Commons were George Canning and Spencer Perceval, Foreign Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer respectively. The United States was now to undergo treatment of a new kind at the hands of Tories who despised its institutions, felt only contempt for the courage of its government, and were guided as regards American commerce by the doctrines of Lord Sheffield and James Stephen.

An Order in Council of November 11, {198} 1807, drafted by Perceval and endorsed by all the rest of the Cabinet, declared that no commerce with France or her allies was henceforward to be permitted unless it had passed through English ports. To this Napoleon retorted by the Milan Decree of December, 1807, proclaiming that all vessels which had been searched by British, or which came by way of England, were good prize. Henceforth, then, neutral commerce was positively prohibited. The merchantmen of the United States could continue to trade at all only by definitely siding with one power or the other. The object of the British order was declared to be retaliation on Napoleon. Its actual effect was to place American trade once more under the rule of the Navigation Acts. As in the days before 1776, American vessels must make England their "staple" or "entrepot," and could go only where permitted to by British orders under penalty of forfeiture. This measure was sharply attacked in Parliament by the Whigs, especially by Grenville and Howick, of the late Ministry, but was triumphantly sustained by the Tories.

At this time the chronic grievance of the impressment of seamen from American vessels grew suddenly acute. In the years of the great war, the American merchant marine, {199} with its safe voyages and good pay, offered a highly attractive prospect for English sailors, who dreaded the danger, the monotony, and the severe discipline of British men-of-war. They swarmed by thousands into American service, securing as rapidly as possible, not infrequently by fraudulent means, the naturalization papers by which they hoped to escape the press-gang. Ever since 1793 British naval officers, recognizing no right of expatriation, had systematically impressed British seamen found on American ships and, owing to the difficulty in distinguishing the two peoples, numerous natives of New England and the middle States found themselves imprisoned on the "floating hell" of a British ship-of-the-line in an epoch when brutality characterized naval discipline. In August, 1807, the United States was stirred to fury over the forcible seizure by the British Leopard of three Englishmen from the U.S.S. Chesapeake, which, unprepared for defence, had to suffer unresisting. So hot was the general anger that Jefferson could easily have led Congress into hostile measures, if not an actual declaration of war, over the multiplied seizures and this last insult.

But Jefferson clung to peace, and satisfied himself by ordering British men-of-war out of American ports and sending a {200} demand for reparation, with which he linked a renunciation of the right of impressment. When Congress met in December, he induced it to pass a general embargo, positively prohibiting the departure of American vessels to foreign ports. Since at the same time the Non-importation Act came into effect, all imports and exports were practically suspended. His idea was that the total cessation of American commerce would inflict such discomfort upon British and French consumers that each country would be forced to abandon its oppressive measures.

Rarely has a country, at the instance of one man, inflicted a severer strain upon its citizens. The ravages of French and English together, since the outbreak of war in 1793, did not do so much damage as the embargo did in one year, for it threatened ruin to every shipowner, importer, and exporter in the United States. Undoubtedly Jefferson and his party had in mind the success of the non-importation agreements against the Stamp Act and the Townshend duties, but what was then the voluntary action of a great majority was now a burden imposed by one part of the country upon another. The people of New York and New England simply would not obey the Act. To enforce it against Canada became an impossibility, and to prevent vessels from escaping a {201} matter of great difficulty. Jefferson persisted doggedly, and induced Congress to pass laws giving revenue collectors extraordinary powers of search and seizure, but without results.

Under this intolerable grievance, the people of the oppressed regions rapidly lost their enthusiasm for the Democratic administration. Turning once more to the Federalist party, which had seemed practically extinct, they threw State after State into its hands, and actually threatened the Republican control in the Presidential election of 1808. Had a coalition been arranged between the disgusted Republican factions of New York and Pennsylvania and the Federalists of New England, Delaware, and Maryland, James Madison might well have been beaten for successor to Jefferson. But worse remained behind. The outraged New Englanders, led by Timothy Pickering and others, began to use again, in town-meetings and legislatures, the old-time language of 1774, once employed against the Five Intolerable Acts, and to threaten secession. As Jefferson said later, "I felt the foundations of the government shaken under my feet by the New England townships."

By this time, it was definitely proved that as a means of coercion the embargo was worthless. English manufacturers and their {202} workmen complained, but English ship-owners profited, and crowds of British seamen returned perforce to their home, even at times into the royal navy. Canning, for the Portland Ministry, sarcastically declined to be moved, observing that the embargo, whatever its motives, was practically the same as Napoleon's system, and England could not submit to being driven to surrender to France even to regain the American market or relieve the Americans from their self-inflicted sufferings. Napoleon now gave an interesting taste of his peculiar methods, for on April 17, 1808, he issued the Bayonne Decree, ordering the confiscation of all American vessels found in French ports, on the ground that, since the embargo prohibited the exit of American ships, these must, in reality, be English! Thus he gathered in about eight million dollars' worth. The policy had to be abandoned, and in the utmost ill-humour Congress repealed the embargo, on March 1, 1809, substituting non-intercourse with England and France. Thus Jefferson left office under the shadow of a monumental failure. His theory of commercial coercion had completely broken down; and he had damaged his own and his party's prestige to such an extent that the moribund Federalist organization had sprung to life and threatened the existence of the Union.

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From this time onward, the New Englanders assumed the character of ultra-admirers of Great Britain. True, their vessels suffered from British seizures; but no British confiscations had done them such harm as the embargo, or taken such discreditable advantage of a transparent pretext as the Bayonne Decree. Belonging to the wealthy classes, they admired and respected England as defender of the world's civilization against Napoleon, and they detested Jefferson and Madison as tools of the enemy of mankind. They justified impressments, spoke respectfully of the British doctrines of trade, and corresponded freely with British public men. They stood, in short, exactly where the Republicans had stood in 1793, supporters of a foreign power with which the Federal administration was in controversy. In Congress and outside, they made steady, bitter menacing attacks on the integrity and honesty of the Republicans.

Under Jefferson's successor, the policy of commercial pressure was carried to its impotent conclusion. At first the action of the British government seemed to crown Madison with triumph. In the winter of 1809, the majority in Congress had talked freely of substituting war for the embargo; and at the same time the Whigs in Parliament, led by Grenville, had attacked Canning for his {204} insolence toward the United States as likely to cause war. Whitbread called attention to the similarity between the conditions in 1809 and 1774, when "the same infatuation seemed to prevail," the same certainty existed that the Americans would not fight, and the same confident assertions were made that they could not do without England. The comparison possessed much truth, for the Tories of 1809 were as indifferent to American feelings as those of 1774, and pushed their commercial policy just as North had done his political system, in the same contemptuous certainty that the Americans would never fight. Yet Canning showed sufficient deference to his assailants to instruct Erskine, British Minister at Washington, to notify Madison that the Orders would be withdrawn in case the United States kept its non-intercourse with France, recognized the Rule of 1756, and authorized British men-of-war to enforce the Non-intercourse Act.

The immediate result was surprising, for Erskine, eager to restore harmony, did not disclose or carry out his instructions, but accepted the continuance by the United States of non-intercourse against France as a sufficient concession. He announced that the Orders in Council would be withdrawn on June 10; Madison in turn promptly issued a proclamation reopening trade, and {205} swarms of American vessels rushed across the Atlantic. But Canning, in harsh language, repudiated the arrangement of his over-sanguine agent, and Madison was forced to the mortifying step of reimposing non-intercourse by a second proclamation. Still worse remained, for when F. J. Jackson, the next British Minister, arrived, the President had to undergo the insult of being told that he had connived with Erskine in violating his instructions. The refusal to hold further relations with the blunt emissary was a poor satisfaction. All this time, moreover, reparation for the Chesapeake affair was blocked, since it had been coupled with a demand for the renunciation of impressments, something that no British Ministry would have dared to yield.

On the part of Napoleon, the Non-intercourse Act offered another opportunity for plunder. When he first heard of Erskine's concessions, he was on the point of meeting them, but on learning of their failure he changed about, commanded the sequestration of all American vessels entering European ports, and in May, 1810, by the Rambouillet Decree, he ordered their confiscation and sale. The ground assigned was that the Non-intercourse Act forbade any French or English vessel to enter American ports under penalty of confiscation. {206} None had been confiscated, but they might be. Hence he acted. Incidentally he helped to fill his treasury, and seized about ten millions of American property.

By this time it was clear to most Americans that, however unfriendly the British policy, it was honesty itself compared to that of the Emperor, whose sole aim seemed to be to ensnare American vessels for the purpose of seizing them. The Federalists in Congress expatiated on his perfidy and bare-faced plunder, but nothing could shake the intention of Madison to stick to commercial bargaining. Congress now passed another Act, destined to be the last effort at peaceful coercion. Trade was opened, but the President was authorized to reimpose non-intercourse with either nation if the other would withdraw its decrees. This Act, known always as the Macon Bill No. 2, became law in May, 1810, and Napoleon immediately seized the occasion for further sharp practice. He caused an unofficial, unsigned letter to be shown to the American Minister at Paris stating that the French decrees would be withdrawn on November 2, 1810, "it being understood that the English should withdraw theirs by that time or the United States should cause its rights to be respected by England." Madison accordingly reimposed non-intercourse with {207} England on the date named, and considered the French decrees withdrawn. The situation was regarded by him as though he had entered into a contract with Napoleon, which compelled him to assert that the decrees were at an end, although he had no other evidence than the existence of the situation arising from the Macon Bill.

There followed a period during which the American Minister at London, William Pinkney, endeavoured without success to convince the British government that the decrees actually were withdrawn. The Portland Ministry had fallen in 1809, and the sharp-tongued Canning was replaced in the Foreign Office by the courteous Marquess Wellesley; but Spencer Perceval, author of the Orders in Council, was Prime Minister and stiffly determined to adhere to his policy. James Stephen and George Rose, in Parliament, stood ready to defend them, and the Tory party as a whole accepted their necessity. When, therefore, Pinkney presented his request to Wellesley, the latter naturally demanded something official from Napoleon, which neither Pinkney nor Madison could supply. Finally, in February, 1811, Pinkney broke off diplomatic relations and returned home, having played his difficult part with dignity. To aggravate the situation Napoleon's cruisers continued, {208} whenever they had a chance, to seize and burn American vessels bound for England, and his port authorities to sequester vessels arriving from England. The decrees were not in fact repealed.

Madison had committed himself, however, to upholding the honour of Napoleon—a task from which any other man would have recoiled—and the United States continued to insist on a fiction. Madison's conduct in this affair was that of a shrewd lawyer-like man who tried to carry on diplomacy between two nations fighting to the death as though it were a matter of contracts, words and phrases of legal meaning. To Napoleon, legality was an incomprehensible idea. To the Tory ministries, struggling to maintain their country against severe economic pressure, facts, not words, counted, and facts based on naval force. Upon the Jeffersonian and Madisonian attempts at peaceful coercion they looked with mingled annoyance and contempt, believing, as they did, that the whole American policy was that of a weak and cowardly nation trying by pettifogging means to secure favourable trade conditions. The situation had reached a point where the United States had nothing to hope from either contestant, by continuing this policy.

At this juncture a new political force {209} appeared. By 1811 the old-time Republican leaders, trained in the school of Jeffersonian ideals, were practically bankrupt. Faction paralyzed government, and Congress seemed, by its timid attitude, to justify the taunt of Quincy of Massachusetts that the Republican party could not be kicked into a war. But there appeared on the stage a new sort of Republican. In the western counties of the older States and in the new territories beyond the mountains, the frontier element, once of small account in the country and wholly disregarded under the Federalists, was multiplying, forming communities and governments, where the pioneer habits had created a democracy that was distinctly pugnacious. Years of danger from Indians, of rivalry with white neighbours over land titles, of struggle with the wilderness, had produced a half-lawless and wholly self-assertive type of man, as democratic as Jefferson himself, but with a perfect willingness to fight and with a great respect for fighters. To these men, the tameness with which the United States had submitted to insults and plundering was growing to be unendurable. Plain masculine anger began to obscure other considerations.

These Western men, moreover, had a special cause for indignation with England, {210} which was ignored by the sea-coast communities, in the close connection which they firmly believed to exist between the British administration of upper Canada and the north-western Indians. In the years after 1809, the Indian question again began to assume a dangerous form. Settlers were coming close to the treaty lines, and, to satisfy their demands for the bottom lands along the Wabash River, Governor Harrison of Indiana Territory made an extensive series of land purchases from the small tribes on the coveted territory.

But there now appeared two remarkable Indians, Tecumseh and his brother, the Prophet, of the Shawnee tribe, who saw in the occupation of the red men's hunting lands and the inroads of frontier corn whiskey the death of all their race. These leaders began to hold their own tribe together against the purchase of whiskey or the sale of lands; then, with wider vision, they tried to organize an alliance of all the north-western Indians to prevent further white advance. They even went so far as to visit the south-western Indians, Creeks and Cherokees, to induce them to join in the grand league. The very statesmanship involved in this vast scheme rendered it dangerous in the eyes of all Westerners, who were firmly convinced that the backing of {211} this plan came from the British posts in Canada. There was, in reality, a good understanding between the Canadian officers and the Shawnee chiefs. In 1811 hostilities broke out at Tippecanoe, where Governor Harrison had a sharp battle with the Shawnees; but Tecumseh exerted himself to restore peaceful relations, although the frontier was in great excitement.

From the States of Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee, and from the inner counties of the southern States there came to the first session of the Eleventh Congress, in December, 1811, a group of young politicians—Henry Clay, John Calhoun, Langdon Cheves, Felix Grundy—who felt that the time for talk was at an end. Unless England immediately revoked its decrees, ceased impressing seamen, and refrained from instigating Indian plots there must be war. Assuming control of the House, with Clay in the Speaker's chair, they transformed the Republican party and the policy of the country. They pushed through measures for raising troops, arming ships, and borrowing money. Congress rang with fiery speeches, as month after month went by and the Perceval Ministry obstinately refused to stir from its commercial policy.

Yet the feeling of the English public was already undergoing a change. By 1812 the {212} pretence that the Orders in Council were maintained for the purpose of starving out France was growing transparent when thousands of licences, granted freely to British vessels, permitted a vast fleet to carry on the supposedly forbidden trade. Although Perceval and Canning still insisted in Parliament that the Orders were retaliatory, the fact was patent that their only serious effect was to cause the loss of the American trade and the American market. At the threat of war, the exporters of England, suffering severely from glutted markets, began a vigorous agitation against Perceval's policy and bombarded the Ministry, through Henry Brougham, with petitions, memorials, and motions which put the Tories on the defensive. Speakers like Alexander Baring held up the system of Orders in Council as riddled with corruption, and only the personal authority of Perceval and Castlereagh kept the majority firm. At the height of this contest, Perceval was assassinated, on May 11, 1812; and it was not until June 8 that hope of a new coalition was abandoned, and the Tory Cabinet was definitely reorganized under Lord Liverpool. Almost the first act of that Ministry was to bow before the storm of petitions, criticisms, and complaints, and to announce on June 16 that they had decided to suspend the Orders. {213} Thus the very contingency upon which Jefferson and Madison had counted came to pass. The British government, at the instance of the importing and manufacturing classes, yielded to the pressure of American commercial restrictions. It was true that the danger of war weighed far more, apparently, than the Non-intercourse Act; but had there been an Atlantic cable, or even a steam transit, at that time, or had the Liverpool Ministry been formed a little earlier, the years 1807-1812 might have passed into history as a triumphant vindication of Jefferson's theories.

But it was too late. Madison, seeing, apparently, that his plans were a failure, fell in with the new majority, and after deliberate preparation sent a message to Congress in June, 1812, which was practically an invitation to declare war. In spite of the bitter opposition of all Federalists and many eastern Republicans, Congress, by the votes of the southern and western members, adopted a declaration of war on June 18, committing the United States to a contest with the greatest naval power in the world on the grounds of the Orders in Council, the impressment of seamen, and the intrigues with the north-western Indians. At the moment when Napoleon, invading Russia, began his last stroke for universal empire, the United {214} States entered the game as his virtual ally. This was something the Federalists could not forgive. They returned to their homes, execrating the war as waged in behalf of the arch-enemy of God and man, as the result of a pettifogging bit of trickery on the part of Napoleon. They denounced the ambitions of Clay and the Westerners, who predicted an easy conquest of Canada, as merely an expression of a pirate's desire to plunder England of its colonies, and they announced their purpose to do nothing to assist the unrighteous conflict. In their anger at Madison, they were even willing to vote for De Witt Clinton of New York, who ran for President in 1812 as an Independent Republican; and the coalition carried the electoral vote of every State north of Maryland except Pennsylvania and Vermont.

When the news of the repeal of the Orders in Council crossed the Atlantic, some efforts were made by the governor-general of Canada to arrange an armistice, hoping to prevent hostilities. But Madison does not seem to have seriously considered abandoning the war, even though the original cause had been removed. Feeling the irresistible pressure of the southern and western Democrats behind him, he announced that the contest must go on until England should {215} abandon the practice of impressment. So the last hope of peace disappeared.

The war thus begun need never have taken place, had the Tory Ministries of Portland or Perceval cared to avert it. The United States only lashed itself into a war-like mood after repeated efforts to secure concessions, and after years of submission to British rough handling. During all this time, either Madison or Jefferson would gladly have accepted any sort of compromise which did not shut American vessels wholly out from some form of independent trade. But the enmity of the British shipowners and naval leaders and the traditional British commercial policy joined with contempt for the spiritless nation to prevent any such action until the fitting time had gone by.



CHAPTER XI

THE WAR FOR "SAILORS' RIGHTS" AND WESTWARD EXPANSION, 1812-1815

The second war between the United States and the mother country, unlike the first, was scarcely more than a minor {216} annoyance to the stronger party. In the years 1812-1814, England was engaged in maintaining an army in Spain, in preying on French commerce by blockade and cruising, and was spending immense sums to subsidize the European nations in their final struggle against Napoleon. The whole military and financial strength of the country, the whole political and diplomatic interest were absorbed in the tremendous European contest. Whig and Tory, landowner, manufacturer, and labourer were united in unbending determination to destroy the power of the Corsican. The Liverpool Ministry contained little of talent, and no genius, but the members possessed certain traits which sufficed to render others unnecessary, namely, an unshakable tenacity and steady hatred of the French. The whole country stood behind them on that score.

In these circumstances, the English, when obliged to fight the United States, were at liberty to send an overwhelming naval force to blockade or destroy American commerce, but were in great straits to provide men to defend Canada. It was not until a full year after the declaration of war that any considerable force of regular troops could be collected and sent there, and not for two years that anything approaching a genuine army could be directed against America. {217} The defence of Canada had to be left to the efforts of some few officers and men and such local levies as could be assembled.

On the side of the United States, the war was bound to take the form of an effort to capture all or part of Canada, for that was the only vulnerable British possession. On the sea the United States could hope at most to damage British commerce by means of the few national cruisers and such privateers as the shipowners of the country could send out. Without a single ship-of-the-line and with only five frigates, there existed no possibility of actually fighting the British navy. But on land it seemed as though a country with a population of over seven millions ought to be able to raise armies of such size as to overrun, by mere numbers, the slender resources of Canada; and it was the confident expectation of most of the western leaders that within a short time the whole region would be in American hands. "The acquisition of Canada this year," wrote Jefferson, "as far as the neighbourhood of Quebec, will be a mere matter of marching, and will give us experience for the attack on Halifax, the next and the final expulsion of England from the American continent."

Unfortunately for the success of these dreams, the policy of the Republican administrations had been such as to set up {218} insuperable difficulties. The regular army, reduced under Jefferson's "passion for peace" to a bare minimum, was scattered in a few posts; the War Department was without means for equipping, feeding, and transporting bodies of troops; the whole mechanism of war administration had to be created. Further, the Secretary of the Army and nearly all the generals were elderly men, veterans of the Revolutionary Army, who had lost whatever energy they once possessed. The problem of war finances was rendered serious by the fact that revenue from the tariff, the sole important source of income, was sure to be cut off by the British naval power. The National Bank had been refused a new charter in 1811, and the government, democratic in its finances as in other matters, relied upon a hundred odd State banks of every degree of solvency for aid in carrying on financial operations.

The temper of the American people was exactly what it had been in colonial days. They regarded war as a matter to be carried on at the convenience of farmers and others, who were willing to serve in defence of their homes, but strongly objected to enlisting for any length of time. On the more pugnacious frontier, the prevailing military ideal was that of the armed mob or crowd—a body of fighters following a chosen leader against Indians. {219} Everywhere the elementary conceptions of obedience and duty were unknown. The very men who wished for war were unwilling to fight except on their own terms.

Still more fatal to military efficiency was the fact that the Federalists, and many of the northern Republicans, inhabiting the regions abutting on Canada, were violently opposed to the war, wished to see it fail, and were firmly resolved to do nothing to aid the administration. The utmost the Federalists would do was to defend themselves if attacked, but they would do that on their own responsibility and not under federal orders.

The only exception to this prevailing unmilitary condition was to be found in the navy, where, through cruising and through actual service against the Barbary corsairs, a genuinely trained body of officers and men had been created. Unable to do more than give a good account of themselves on the ocean in single combats, these officers found a chance on the northern lakes to display a fighting power and skill which is one of the few redeeming features of the war on the American side.

In 1812 hostilities began with a feeble attempt on the part of the United States to invade Canada, an effort whose details are of interest only in showing how impossible {220} it is for an essentially unmilitary people to improvise warfare. Congress had authorized a loan, the construction of vessels, and the enlistment of an army of 36,000 men; but the officers appointed to assemble a military force found themselves unable, after months of recruiting and working, to gather more than half that number of raw troops, with a fluctuating body of State militia. With these rudiments of a military force, attempts to "invade" Canada were made in three directions—from Detroit, from the Niagara River, and from the northern end of Lake Champlain.

To meet these movements, there were actually less than 2,800 British soldiers west of Montreal; but fortunately they were commanded by Isaac Brock, an officer of daring and an aggressive temper. He at once entered into alliance with Tecumseh and the western Indians, and thus brought to the British assistance a force of hundreds of warriors along the Ohio and Kentucky frontier. While General Hull, with about 2,000 troops, mainly volunteers from the West, marched under orders to Detroit and then, in July, invaded upper Canada, the outlying American posts at Chicago and Mackinac were either captured or destroyed by the Indians. Brock, gathering a handful of men, marched against Hull, terrified him for the safety of {221} his communications with the United States, forced the old man to retreat to Detroit, and finally, by advancing boldly against the slight fortifications of the post, frightened him into surrender. Hull had been set an impossible task, to conquer upper Canada with no sure means of getting reinforcements or supplies through a region swarming with Indians; but his conduct indicated no spark of pugnacity, and his surrender caused the loss of the entire north-west. Tecumseh and his warriors now advanced against the Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio frontiers; and the nameless horrors of Indian massacre and torture surged along the line of settlements. The frontiersmen flew to arms. General Harrison, with a commission from Kentucky, headed a large expedition to regain lost ground; but he only succeeded in building forts in north-western Ohio and waging a defensive war against the raids of Tecumseh and the British general, Proctor, Brock's successor.

At Niagara, no move was made until the late autumn, when two American generals in succession—Van Rensselaer and Smyth—tried to lead a motley array of militia and regulars across the river. Brock met the first detachment and was killed in a skirmish, but his men were able to annihilate the main attack, on the brink of the river, while several thousand American militia, {222} refusing, on constitutional grounds, to serve outside the jurisdiction of their state, watched safely from the eastern bank. The second effort in November, under General Smyth, proved an even worse fiasco. Meanwhile General Dearborn, the supreme commander, tried to invade near Lake Champlain; but, after he had marched his troops to the Canadian border, the militia refused to leave the soil of the United States, and so the campaign had to be abandoned. The military efforts of the United States were, as the Canadian historian phrases it, "beneath criticism."

The only redeeming feature of the year was the record of the little American navy and the success of the privateers, who rushed to prey upon British commerce. Upwards of two hundred British vessels were captured, while all but about seventy American ships reached home safely. The British sent squadrons of cruisers, but were unable to begin a blockade. Their aim was to capture American men-of-war as rapidly as possible, to prevent their doing damage, so they unhesitatingly attacked American vessels whenever they met them, regardless of slight differences in size or gun-power. The British sea-captain of the day had a hearty contempt for Americans, and never dreamed that their navy could be any more dangerous than the {223} French. To the unlimited delight of the American public, and the stupefaction of England, five American cruisers in succession captured or sank five British in the autumn of 1812, utilizing superior weight of broadside and more accurate gunnery with merciless severity. These blows did no actual damage to a navy which comprised several hundred frigates and sloops, but the moral effect was great. It had been proved that Americans, after all, could fight.

In 1813 there was a change in administrative officers. Doctor Eustis was replaced in the War Department by John Armstrong, who had served in the Revolution, and William Jones of Philadelphia succeeded Paul Hamilton as Secretary of the Navy. Congress authorized more men, to the number of 58,000, and more ships, and voted more loans. Finally, in the summer it was actually driven to impose internal taxes like those which, when imposed by Federalists, had savoured of tyranny.

On the northern frontier, renewed efforts were made to collect a real army, and, with late comprehension of the necessities of the case, naval officers were sent to build flotillas to control Erie, Ontario, and Champlain. On their part, the British Ministry sent out a few troops and officers to Canada, but {224} relied this year chiefly upon a strict blockade, which was proclaimed first in December, 1812, and was extended, before the end of the year, to cover the entire coast, except New England. Ships-of-the-line, frigates, and sloops patrolled the entrances to all the seaports, terminating not only foreign but coastwise commerce.

Things went little if any better for the United States. The army was on paper 58,000 men; but the people of the north and west would not enlist. The utmost efforts at recruiting did not succeed in bringing one-half the nominal force into the field. The people would not take the war seriously, and the administration was helpless. To make matters worse, not only did the north-western frontier agonize under Indian warfare, but the south-west became involved, when, in August, 1813, the Creek Indians, affected by Tecumseh's influence, rose and began a war in Tennessee and Georgia. For months Andrew Jackson, General of Tennessee militia, with other local commanders, carried on an exhausting and murderous conflict in the swamps and woods of the south-west. The war was now assuming the character of the last stand of the Indians before the oncoming whites.

In the north-west, decisive blows were struck in this year by General Harrison and {225} Commander Perry. The latter built a small fleet of boats, carrying in all fifty-four guns, and sailed out to contest the control of Lake Erie. Captain Barclay, the British commander, with scantier resources, constructed a weaker fleet, with sixty-three lighter guns, and gallantly awaited the Americans on September 9. In a desperately fought battle, Perry's sloop, the Lawrence, was practically destroyed by the concentrated fire of the British; but the greater gun-power of the Americans told, and the entire British flotilla was compelled to surrender. This enabled Harrison, who had been waiting for months in his fortifications, to advance and pursue Proctor into upper Canada. On October 5 he brought him to action near the river Thames, winning a complete victory and killing Tecumseh. The Americans then returned to Detroit, and the Indian war gradually simmered down, until in August, 1814, the leading tribes made peace. To the eastward no such decisive action took place. Sir James Yeo and Commodore Chauncey, commanding the British and American vessels respectively on Lake Ontario, were each unwilling to risk a battle without a decisive superiority; and the result was that no serious engagement occurred. This rendered it impossible for either side to attain any military success in that region; and so the year 1813 {226} shows only a succession of raids, a species of activity in which the British proved much the more daring and efficient. During one of these affairs, General Dearborn occupied the Canadian town of York, now Toronto, and burned the public buildings—an act of needless destruction for which the United States was destined to pay heavily. Further eastward, General Wilkinson and General Hampton began a joint invasion of lower Canada, Wilkinson leading a force of over 6,000 men down the St. Lawrence, Hampton advancing with 4,000 from Lake Champlain toward the same goal, Montreal. But at Chrystler's Farm, on November 11, the rearguard of Wilkinson's army suffered a thorough defeat at the hands of a small pursuing force; and Hampton underwent a similar repulse from an inferior body of French-Canadians under Colonel de Salaberry, at Chateauguy, on October 25. Finally, Hampton, suspecting that Armstrong and Wilkinson intended in case of any failure to throw the blame on him, decided to withdraw, November 11, and Wilkinson followed. The whole invasion came to an inglorious conclusion.

At sea the uniform success of American cruisers came to a stop, for, out of four naval duels, two were British victories, notably the taking of the unlucky Chesapeake by the {227} Shannon. Only where privateers and sloops swept West Indian waters and hung about British convoys was there much to satisfy American feelings; and all the while the blockading squadrons cruised at their ease in Chesapeake and Delaware bays and Long Island Sound. The country was now subjected to increasing distress from the stoppage of all commerce; not only was the Federal government sorely pinched from loss of tariff revenue, but the New England towns suffered from starvation prices for food products, while in the middle and southern States grain was used to feed the cattle or allowed to rot.

For the season of 1814, it was necessary again to try to build up armies; and now the time was growing short during which the United States could hope to draw advantage from the preoccupation of England in the European struggle. During the winter of 1814, the final crushing of Napoleon took place, ending with his abdication and the restoration of the Bourbons. Simultaneously, the British campaign in Spain was carried to its triumphant conclusion, and after April British armies had no further European occupation. Unless peace were made, or unless the United States gained such advantages in Canada as to render the British ready to treat, it was practically certain that the {228} summer would find the full power of the British army, as well as the navy, in a position to be directed against the American frontier and the American sea-coast.

Congress, however, did nothing new. It authorized a loan, raised the bounty for enlistments, voted a further increase of the army, and adjourned. Armstrong, the Secretary of War, succeeded in replacing the worn-out veterans who had mismanaged the campaigns of 1812-1813 with fighting generals, younger men, such as Jacob Brown, Scott, Ripley, and Jackson, the Indian fighter; but he could not induce men to enlist any more freely, nor did he show any ability in planning operations. So events dragged on much as before.

On Lake Ontario, Chauncey and Yeo continued their cautious policy, building vessels continually and never venturing out of port unless for the moment in overwhelming force. The result was that first one then the other controlled the lake; but they never met. The only serious fighting took place near Niagara, where General Brown, with a little force of 2,600 men, tried to invade Canada, and was met first by General Riall, and later by General Drummond, with practically equal forces. Here the Americans actually fought, and fought hard, winning a slight success at Chippawa on July 5, and engaging {229} in a drawn battle at Lundy's Lane on July 25. Later forced to take refuge in Fort Erie, Brown made a successful defence against Drummond, and obliged him to abandon an effort at siege. Here, as in the naval combats, the military showing of the Americans was at last creditable; but the campaign was on too trivial a scale to produce any results. In the south-west this year, Jackson pushed through his attack on the Creeks to a triumphant conclusion, and in spite of mutinous militia and difficult forests compelled the Indians on August 9, 1814, to purchase peace by large cessions of land.

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