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OF 1812, 1813, AND 1814.


From the Berlin Decree to the close of Mr. Jefferson's Second Administration-21st Nov. 1806....
3rd March, 1809.

CONTENTS OF CHAPTER I.-Preliminary Remarks.-The Berlin Decree.-Rigorous execution of the Decree.-
British Order in Council, 7th Jan., 1807.-The Order in Council though strietly just, not perhaps the best
course open to the British Government.-The United States raise no voice against Buonaparte's Decree.-The
affair of the Chesapeake, 22nd June, 1807.-Right of Search.-Some merchant vessels of the United States
under British convoy.-British Order in Council, 11th Nov., 1807. and Milan Decree.-Distressing predicament
of the United States.-Plea advanced by France, and repeated by the United States.-Liberality of the British
Government before the Berlin and Milan Decrees.-Embargo Act of United States Congress, 25th Dec., 1307.
-Mr. Rose's Mission.-Public feeling in the United States unfriendly to Great Britain.-Additions to the U. S.
troops voted by Congress, with supplies.-Effect of the Embargo.--Non-intercourse Act, 1st March, 1808.

Preliminary remarks. AN historical narrative discovers that the errors of human conduct
which wilfully offends against truth, or distorts have given him an enemy where, in the ties
it to serve party purposes, is an imposture; of common language and race, Divine Provi-
and one that is devoid of feeling is a skeleton : dence, he might argue, had designed that he
the one, unprincipled; the other, spiritless and should find a friend. The late war with the
We, in the discharge of our hum- United States, is not the only contest in the
ble office, will strive to eschew both; keeping world's history, which warns us that the per-
clear, to the best of our ability, of the lively, manent peace of nations, is not to be implicitly
but prejudiced and disingenuous political trusted to the mere physical circumstance of
pamphlet, on the one hand; and of the their being "gentes unius labii; " yet the con-
dry and meagre outline of the mere an-sciousness that we have fought, even in self-
nalist, on the other. We write, jealously defence, with those who speak the same tongue
observant of truth, so far as we can discern it; and claim the same lineage with ourselves,
but, at the same time, we are not ashamed to will be felt to damp the ardor of triumph in
confess that we write with emotion,- -as from the moment of victory, and to cloud its remem-
the heart,—and a heart too, which, to its last brance afterwards. To this feeling we are not
pulsation, will remain true, we hope, to the insensible; yet, at the same time, it would be
glorious British constitution. To tell of gradual affectation in us to disguise the satisfaction we
estrangement and final collision, where nature derive from the conviction that the War of
herself, no less than interest, urged to close 1812 was attended with, at least, one good result.
alliance; to recite the afflicting details of war, It shewed that Canada, as to her deliberate
where peace, to either side, was in an emin preference of British connection, and her devo-
ent degree prosperity, happiness, and wisdom; tion to the British throne, was sound to the
-this is our undertaking, and the occasion of heart's core. By declaimers in Congress-who
it we well may, as we do, most conscientiously refused to hear the voice of reason from the
deplore. In such a strife of brothers, victory, just and sensible minority in that Legislature
even on our own side, is not recorded without
pain, the pain which a man feels when he

the loyalty of Canada was impeached,—
spoken of as a thing of nought, to be corrupted

by the first offered bribe, detached from its hollow adherence to British rule by the first military proclamation, or daunted by the first gleam of the Republican bayonets. Transported with the genuine spirit of democratic inebriation, these Congress declaimers were never able, for a moment, to entertain the idea of leyalty, superior to all the arts and enchantments of democratic seduction, growing up to any extent under the mild and equitable and parental rule of Great Britain:-of filial love incorruptible, inseparably weaving itself round the time-honored institutions of a monarchy popular, free, and engrossing the hearts of its subjects. Disaffection, in their judgment, prevailed far and wide in Canada: disaffection, according to their confident but not very statesman-like vaticinations, was to afford them an easy conquest. The mass of our population were to rush into their arms: very different was the spirit which our invaders, when they erossed the line, found amongst us,--they found a spirit, not fondly anticipating their embrace, but sternly prepared to grapple with them in mortal conflict; not pliant for proselyt- | ism, but nerved for battle; and they found that spirit (we say it not in bitterness, but we say it with honest pride), they found that spirit too much for them. Their invasion was repelled; and with it were repelled likewise their groundless imputations against the fidelity and attachment of the Canadas to the parent state.

Thus had Canada the credit of contributing her quota to the brilliant evidence which history supplies-in patriotic struggles and sacrifices such as the peasant-warfare of the Tyrol, and the conflagration of Moscow-that monarchy may evoke in its behalf a spirit of chivalrous devotion, and implant a depth of religious faith, equal even in the strength and vigor and courage of the moment, to democratic fervor, and infinitely superior to it in sustained effort and patient endurance.

commanded the respect, and even awakened the fears of Great Britain; we do not forget that their enterprise by land ended in discomfiture, and that Canada was greatly instrumental to that discomfiture. It was by the side of a mere handful of British troops that our Canadian militia achieved the expulsion of the invading foe; and, what is more, we do not regard it as an extravagant supposition that, had the Mother Country been unable to send them a single soldier, but regular oflicers only, to discipline and lead them, their own true hearts and strong arms-so thoroughly was their spirit roused--would, unaided, have won the day. Be this as it may; Canada did her part, and nobly too. Far be it from us to think of casting away or of unworthily hiding the laurds which she has gained; though most sincere is our desire to interweave with them for aye the olive branch of peace. Many of her native sons who took up arms in her defence, are still living amongst us, honored as they deserve to be; and so long as they shall be spared to us (and may Almighty God spare them long), we trust that political vicissitude will not bring them the mortification of seeing the great principle of British, supremacy for which they bore the musket and drew the sword, falling into anything like general disrepute. And when, in obedience to the common destiny of men, they shall have been removed, may their spirit long survive them, animating the bosoms of an equally gallant and loyal race in generations yet unborn, and cherished as a pearl of great price by an affectionate mother country, in "the adoption and steady prosecution of a good system of colonial government."

We proceed now to take up, in the order of time, the causes of the war.

The Berlin Decree,

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Placed in a position of

21st November, 1806. power, apparently imAs to the gallant spirit and the bold deeds pregnable, by his recent victory of Jena (14th of our adversaries, sorry should we be-with Oct., 1806), which left the Prussian monarchy our eyes open to their merit-to depreciate | prostrate at his feet: but smarting still with them as they, in their imperfect knowledge of the galling memory of Trafalgar, the French us, depreciated our loyalty. Whilst we frankly bear testimony to their skill and their valor, on the lakes and sca more especially; whilst we confess that the energy and the success with which they worked their diminutive navy

Emperor deemed the opportunity afforded by the complete humiliation of Prussia favorable for returning, as fiercely and as fully as he could, the terrible blow inflicted by Great Britain in the annihilation of his navy. Disa

bled from attempting his revenge where the ruinous catastrophe had befallen him,-on the sea, from which his fleets had been swept by the skill and courage and maritime genius of his island-foe; he put forth the full strength of his passionate nature and his prodigious energies to accomplish on the land, where his arms had been hitherto irresistable, those plans

merchandise were glad to be allowed to compound for their valuable goods with the large payment of £800,000. The Berlin Decree obviously, then, was not-as politicians in the United States would have it-a dead letter.

British Order in
Council: 7th Jan. 1807,

Pressed by this unusual and threatening forced to adopt defensive measures. Accordemergency, the British Ministry were evidently ingly, on the 7th January, 1807, the Order in Council, which will be found in the note below,* was issued,-being the first of those

for the destruction of British commerce, which —as Mr. Alison has described them-were owing to "no momentary burst of anger or sudden fit of exultation; but the result of much thought and anxious deliberation." These plans were embodied in the famous manifesto which is known by the name of "the At the Court at the Queen's Palace, January Berlin Decree," having been issued on the 21st November, 1806, from the subjugated court of the unfortunate King of Prussia.

The Berlin Decree is an ordinance familiar to all, mainly through the medium of Mr. Alison's widely circulated history; but in order to make our present publication as complete in itself as we can, we will introduce the eleven articles of the Decree,* as they appear in that admirable work to which, no less than to its own extraordinary pretensions, the Berlin Decree is likely to be indebted for immortality.

Rigorous execution of the Decree.

It is undoubtedly correct to consider Buonaparte's anathema against British commerce as being, in one sense, extravagant and frantic, for it introduced a system of warfare unparalleled in the annals of civilized nations, and the menaces it expressed very far exceeded the ability of its author to carry them out. It is, however, quite contrary to fact, to represent it as a mere ebullition of rage, and a proceed ing utterly Quixotic and impracticable. It said, in effect, to Great Britain,-"The French Emperor declares that you shall have no trade;" and, although the extinction of British trade was greatly beyond his power, there is no question that he was able to inflict upon it, and did inflict upon it, serious damage. The Berlin Decree was far from being a vapoury threat. It did not, by any means, resolve itself into empty air, but was rigorously executed; and the losses known to have been suffered under its operation were in many instances extremely severe. In the Hans Towns, for example, the proprietors of English

* See Decree at end of chapter.



7, 1807. PRESENT,

The King's Most Excellent Majesty in Council.

"Whereas the French Government has issued

certain orders, which, in violation of the usages of tral nations with his majestys dominions; and also war, purport to prohibit the commerce of all neuto prevent such nations from trading with any other country in any articles the growth, produce, whereas the said Government has also taken upon or manufacture of his majesty's dominions; and itself to declare all his Majesty's dominions to be in a state of blockade, at a time when the fleets of France and her allies are themselves confined within their own ports, by the superior valour and discipline of the British navy; and whereas such attempts on the part of the enemy would give to his majesty an unquestionable right of retaliation, and would warrant his majesty in enforcing the which that power vainly hopes to effect against same prohibition of all commerce with France, the commerce of his majesty's subjects, a prohibition which the superiority of his majesty's naval forces might enable him to support, by actually investing the ports and coasts of the enemy with numerous squadrons and cruisers, so as to make the entrance or approach thereto manifestly danto follow the example of his enemies, by proceedgerous; and whereas his majesty, though unwilling ing to an extremity so distressing to all nations not engaged in the war, and carrying on their accustomed trade, yet feels himself bound by a due ests of his people, not to suffer such measures to regard to the just defence of the rights and interbe taken by the enemy, without taking some steps on his part to restrain this violence, and to his majesty is thereupon pleased, by and with the return upon them the evils of their own injustice; advice of his privy council, to order, and it is hereby ordered, that no vessel shall be permitted shall belong to, or be in the possession of France to trade from one port to another, both which ports or her allies, or shall be so far under their control and the commanders of his majesty's ships of as that British vessels may not freely trade thereat; war and privateers shall be, and are hereby instructed to warn every neutral vessel coming from any such port, and destined to another such port, to discontinue her voyage, and not to proceed to

two memorable Orders which, unhappily, con- This would have put the United States to the tributed to aggravate the prejudices previously test. Had they acquiesced, their French symentertained against Great Britain by a large pathies would have stood confessed, and the majority of the inhabitants of the United pretext of a grievance-not discovered until States, and supplied the ostensible, but-as an interval of some months had elapsed*—in circumstances, to be hereafter noticed, entitle the Order in Council, would have been comus to argue-not the real ground for the War pletely shut out; had they remonstrated; of 1812. It is well to bear in mind that this that would have been taking part with justice, Order was not the production of a Tory Min- and Buonaparte might have given way. Oristry; but of a Whig Cabinet, headed by Mr. on the other hand-the boldest course of all Fox, a man who will hardly be charged with might have been pursued, and the whole any bias towards the arbitrary exercise of the strength of our irresistible navy sent to lay influence and power of the British Crown. It waste the French coast from Ostend to Bais still more important to remark that, when yonne, which would soon have brought BuonaMr. Munroe, the United States Minister in parte to reason, and made him consider deliverLondon, communicated the Order to his ance from such a scourge--the severity of government, he did so with comments expres- which he had good cause to know and dread sive of concurrence and satisfaction. "The cheaply purchased by the abrogation of his spirit of this Order," observes Mr. Alison, "was Decree. The British Government, however, to deprive the French, and all the nations sub-resolved on a middle course; and published ject to their control, which had embraced the the "Order in Council," which, whilst it was Continental system, of the advantages of the insufficient to repel the violence of the enemy, coasting trade in neutral bottoms: and, con- assisted afterwards to bring on collision with sidering the much more violent and extensive a neutral power. Still-as we have said. and character of the Berlin Decree, there can be will repeat-the Order in Council, if it were no doubt that it was a very mild and lenient comparatively feeble and inefficient, stands measure of retaliation." nevertheless, as to justice, on a position perfectly unassailable.

The Order in Council though strictly just, not perhaps the best course open to the British Government.

The issuing of the Or

der in Council, though

just and defensible, was, perhaps, an infelicitous proceeding. The British Government might have tried instead one or other of two expedients, either of which, as matters turned out, would probably have answered better than that which was adopted. If they would not have been justified in treating the Emperor's fulmination with contempt; they might on the one hand-have paused, at least, to ascertain whether neutral powers would acquiesce in his furious enactment.

any such port; and any vessel, after being so warned, or any vessel coming from any such port, after a reasonable time shall have been afforded for receiving information of this his majesty's orders which shall be found proceeding to another such port, shall be captured and brought in, and, together with her cargo, shall be condemned as lawful prize. And his majesty's principal secretaries of state, the lords commissioners of the admiralty, and the judges of the high court of admiralty, and courts of vice admiralty, are to take the necessary measures herein as to them shall respectively appertain.


The United States raise no voice against

The alternative of ob

Buonaparte's Decree. servant inactivity might have been tried at the outset; but certainly could not have been long maintained; and must have given place soon to energetic resistance. Whilst the Berlin Decree was being unsparingly executed, the neutral nations of Denmark, Portugal, and the United Statesby abstaining from remonstrance-received it, as we are warranted in considering, with at least silent acquiescence. The silence of the United States is the more to be deplored, because that country-remote from the theatre of war, and completely secure from any attempt of Buonaparte to shut up its portsmight have spoken out in frank and honest terms with safety. It is to be regretted, however, that the current of public feeling had already begun to set the other way. When tidings of the first aggression on the part of the French Emperor reached them, no voice

*The first notice of it is to be found in the President's angry message of October 27, 1807.

of public indignation was raised; no authori- to sea, off Cape Henry, and in a few hours tative document emanated from the govern- came up with her. On being hailed by the ment indicating, even indirectly and in the Leopard, and receiving an intimation that the mildest terms, their sense of the outrage which Captain of that ship desired to send a message had been committed by the oppressor and on board the Chesapeake, the commander of trampler of Europe. Not a word even of the latter vessel, Commodore Barron, hove to; expostulation was breathed by the great North whereupon a letter was sent by Captain HumAmerican republic-independent as it was of phries, covering an order from Admiral Napoleon's iron-handed despotism, and deeply Berkeley, in which the men known to have interested in British commerce; until the arm been received into the American frigate, and of French violence fell heavily on the ships alleged to be deserters from the Melampus, of its own citizens; and, even then,-although were designated by name and claimed. Comconfiscation followed on confiscation, and mil-pliance with the order was refused by Comlions of francs accruing from the sequestration modore Barron, who replied by letter to of American property enriched the French Captain Humphries, denying that he had the treasury,—the tone adopted by the President men, intimating his unwillingness to permit of the United States towards the French gov- the search, and adding that his crew could not ernment, though petulant enough, was gentle and plaintive and supplicatory, compared with the strong and angry language frequently addressed from Washington to ministers and plenipotentiaries of Great Britain.

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be mustered for examination by any other officers than his own. Captain Humphries, on receiving this reply, fired a broadside into the Chesapeake, to which the latter vessel returned a few shots, in a confused manner; the Leopard then repeating her fire, the American frigate struck her colors. A boat was then put off from the Leopard; and the men were discovered and removed. In this affair the Chesapeake had three men killed and eighteen wounded, amongst the latter of whom

was Commodore Barron; besides which the damage done to her hull and masts was considerable. The captured deserters were taken to Halifax and tried; and one of them, being found guilty of piracy and mutiny, was hanged. It is a circumstance worthy of notice,- -as evincing on the part of the U. S. navy at the time a spirit gallant and resolute enough, though too irascible,—that Commodore Barron was censured and suspended soon afterwards by a naval court, for not preparing his vessel more fully for action, when there was sufficient time to do so, and thus incapacitating himself from making more than the slight and very ineffective resistance which he offered

As it was known that several British scamen had deserted from different ships and vessels of H. M. navy, whilst lying at anchor in Hampton Roads, Va., and that, after the whole body of the deserters had openly paraded the streets of Norfolk, under the American flag, and protected by the Magistrates of the town, four of them, at least, had been received on board the U. S. frigate Chesa peake, Admiral Berkeley, then in command of the North American station, issued instructions for their requisition and removal,-the deserters having been previously demanded, This collision between the two vessels was but without effect, by the British Consul at specially unfortunate at such a juncture; but Norfolk, as well as by the Captains of the the hasty proceeding of the President of the ships from which they had deserted. About United States served to make matters vastly one month after the issuing of these instruc- worse. On the 2nd July following, he set tions,-afterwards disavowed by the British forth precipitately an angry proclamation, in Government, as an improper extension of the which, after reciting the transaction, in lanright of search to armed vessels,-Captain guage calculated to inflame the public mind in Humphries, of H. M. ship Leopard, 74 guns, a very high degree, he peremptorily "required on the 22nd June, followed the Chesapeake all armed vessels bearing commissions under

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