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OF THE W A R
OF 1812, 1813, AND 1814.
CHAPTER I. From the Berlin Decree to the close of Mr. Jefferson's Second Administration–21st Nov. 1806....
3rd March, 1809. CONTESTS OF CHAPTER 1.-Preliminary Remarks.-- The Berlin Decree.-Rigorous execution of the Decree.
Brilish Order in Council, 71h Jan., 1807. - The Order in Council though strielly just not perhaps the best course open to the British Governinent.-The United States raise no voice against Buonaparte's Decree.- The aifair of ine 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 Governmem before the Berlin and Milan Decrees.- Emlargo 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 offi-nds 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 Proviand 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 forbidding. 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 perclear, 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 condry and meagre outline of the mere an- sciousness that we have fought, even in selfnalist, 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 thit we write with emotion, -as from the mornent of victory, and to cloud its rememthe 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 devoent 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 -the loyalty of Canada was impeached, pain,—the pain which a man feels when he spoken of as a thing of nought, to be corrupted
by the first offered bribe, detached from its conimanded the respect, and even awakened hollow adherence to British rule by the first the fears of Great Britain; we do not forget inilitary proclamation, or daunted by the first that their enterprise by land ended in discomgleam of the Republican bayonets. Trans- fiture, and that Canada was greatly instruported with the genuine spirit of democratie mental to thet discomfiture. It was by the inebriation, these Congress declaimers were side of a mere handful of British troops that never able, for a moment, 'to entertain the idea our Canadian militia achieved the expulsion of loyalty, superior to all the arts and enchant- of the invading foe; and, what is more, we ments of democratic seduction, growing up do not regard it as an extravagant suf'position to any extent under the mild and equitable that, had the Mother Country been unable to and parental rule of Great Britain :-of filial send them a single sollier, but regular oílicers love incorruptible, inseparably weaving itself only, to discipline and lead them, their own round the time-honored institutions of a mon- truc hearts and strong arms-so thoroughly archy popular, free, and engrossing the hearts was their spirit rousel-would, unaided, have of its subjects. Disaffection, in their judgment, won the day. Be this as it may; Canada did prevailed far and wide in Canada : disaffection, her part, and nobly too. Far be it from us according to their confident but not very states- to think of casting away or of unworthily man-like vaticinations, was to afforil them an hiding the laurels which she has gained; easy conquest. The mass of our population though most sincere is our desire to interweave were to rush into their arms: very different with them for aye the olive branch of peace. was the spirit which our invaders, when they Many of her native sons who took up arms in erossed the line, found amongst 115,--they her dcfence, are still living amongst us, hon. found a spirit, not fondly anticipating their cred as they deserve to be; and so long as embrace, but sternly prepared to grapple with they shall be spared to us (and may Almighty them in mortal conflict; not pliant for proselyt. God spare them long), we trust that political ism, but nerved for battle; and they found vicissitude will not bring them the mortilicathat spirit (we say it not in bitterness, but we tion of seeing the great principle of British say it with honest pride), they found that supremacy for which they bore the musket and spirit too much for them. Their invasion was drew the sword, falling into anything like genrepelleil; and with it were repelled likewise eral disrepute. And when, in obedience to the their groundless imputations against the fidel common destiny of men, they shall have been ity and attachment of the Canadas to the parent removed, may their spirit long survive them, state.
animating the bosoms of an equally gallant and Thus had Canada the credit of contributing loyal race in generations yet unborn, and her quota to the brilliant evidence which his- cherished as a pearl of great price by an affectory supplies-in patriotic struggles and sacri- tionate mother country, “the adoption and fices such as the peasant-warfare of the Tyrol, steady prosecution of a good system of colonial and the conflagration of Moscow—that mon-government." archy may evoke in its behalf a spirit of chiv
We proceed now to take up, in the order of alrous devotion, and implant a depth of religi. time, the causes of the war. ous faith, equal even in the strength and vigor and courage of the moment, to democratic fervor, and infinitely superior to it in sustained
The Berlin Decree,
Placed in a position of effort and patient endurance.
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 ns, depreciated our loyalty. Whilst we frankly Emperor deemed the opportunity afforded by hear testimony to their skill and their valor, the complete humiliation of Prussia favoraon the lakes and sca more especially; whilst ble for returning, as fiercely and as fully as he we confess that the energy and the success could, the terrible blow inflicted by Great with which they worked their diminutive navy Britain in the annihilation of his ravy. Disa
21st November, 1806.
Council:7th Jan. 1807.
BRITISH ORDER OF COCNCIL.
bled from attempting his revenge where the merchandise were glad to be allowed to comruinous catastrophe had befallen him,
,-on the pound for their valuable goods with the large sea, from which his fleets had been swept by payment of £800,000. The Berlin Decree the skill and courage and maritime genius of obviously, then, was not—as politicians in the his island-foe; he put forth the full strength United States would have it--a dead letter. of his passionate nature and his prosligious
British Order in
Pressed by this unenergies to accomplish on the land, where his arms had been hitherto irresistable, those plans emergency, the British Ministry were evidently
usual and threatening for the destruction of British commerce, which forced to adopt defensive measures.
Accord-as Mr. Alison has described them-were ingly, on the 7th January, 1807, the Order in owing to "no momentary burst of anger or
Council, which will be found in the note sudden fit of exultation; but the result of
below,* was issued, -being the first of those 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 Quren's Palace, January Berlin Decree,” having been issued on the 21st
7, 1807. November, 1806, from the subjugated court
PRESENT, of the unfortunate King of Prussia.
The King's Most Excellent Majesty in Council. The Berlin Decree is an ordinance familiar to “Whereas the French Government has issued all, mainly throngh the medium of lír. Ali- certain orders, which, in violation of the usages of
war, purport to prohibit the commerce of all neuson's widely circulated history; but in order tral nations with his majestys dominions; and also to make our present publication as complete to prevent such nations from trading with any in itself as we can, we will introduce the eleven other country in any articles the growth, produce,
or manufacture of his majesty's dominions; and articles of the Decree,* as they appear in that whereas the said Government has also taken upon admirable work to which, no less than to its itself to declare all his Majesty's dominions to be in
a state of blockade, at a time when the fleets of own extraordinary pretensions, the Berlin De
France and her allies are themselves confined cree is likely to be indebted for immortality. within their own ports, by the superior valour and
discipline of the British navy; and whereas such Rigorous execution It is undoubtedly cor
attempts on the part of the enemy would give to rect to consider Buona- his majesty an unquestionable right of retaliation, parte's anathema against British commerce as and would warrant his majesty in enforcing the
same prohibition of all commerce with France, being, in one sense, extravagant and frantic, which that power vainly hopes to effect against for it introduced a system of warfare unparal- the commerce of his majesty's snbjects, a prohibileled in the annals of civilized nations, and the tion which the superiority of his majesty's naval menaces it expressed very far exceeded the investing the ports and coasts of the enemy with
forces miglit enable him to support, by actually ability of its author to carry them out. It is, numerous squadrons and cruisers, so as to make however, quite contrary to fact, to represent the entrance or approach thereto manifestly danit as a mere ebullition of rage, and a proceed- gerous; and whereas his majesty, though unwilling
to follow the example of his enemies, by proceeding utterly Quisotic and impracticable. It ing to an extremity so distressing to all nations said, in effect, to Great Britain, “The French not engaged in the war, and carrying on their acEmperor declares that you shall have no trade;" regard to the just defence of the rights and inter
customed trade, yet feels himself bound by a due and, although the extinction of British trade ests of his people, not to suffer such measures to was grortly beyond his power, there is no be taken by the enemy, without taking some question that he was able to inflict upon it, steps on his part to restrain this violence, and to
return upon them the evils of their own injustice; and did inflict upon it, serious damage. The his majesty is thereupon pleased, by and with the Berlin Decree was far from being a vapoury advice of his privy council, to order, and it is threat. It did not, by any means, resolve hereby ordered, that no vessel shall be permitted
to trade from one port to another, both which ports itself into empty air, but was rigorously exe- shall belong to, or be in the possession of France cuted ; and the losses known to have been suf- or her allies, or shall be so far under their control fered under its operation were in many in- and the commanders of his majesty's ships of
as that British vessels may not freely trade thereat; stances extremely severe. In the Hans war and privateers shall be, and are hereby inTowns, for example, the proprietors of English structed to warn every neutral vessel coming from
any such port, and destined to another sucli port, * See Decree at end of chapter.
to discontinue her voyage, and not to proceed to
of the Decree.
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. Jon the other hand-the boldest course of all Fox,-a
,-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 nary 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 Wr. 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 fecble and inefficient, stands measure of retaliation."
nevertheless, as to justice, on a position per
sectly unassailable. The Order in Coun. cilthough alricily jus!,
The issuing of the Ornot perhaps the best der in Council, though
The United States The alternative of ob
raise no voice against British Government.
just and defensible, was, Buonaparle's Decree. servant inactivity might perhaps, an infelicitous proceeding. The have been tried at the outset; but certainly British Government might have tried instead could not have been long maintained ; and one or other of two expedients, either of which, must have given place soon to energetic resistas matters turned out, wonld probably have ance. Whilst the Berlin Decree was being answered better than that which was adopted. unsparingly executed, the neutral nations of If they would not have been justified in treat- Denmark, Portugal, and the United Statesing the Emperor's sulmination with contempt; by abstaining from remonstrance-received it, they might-on the one hand-have paused, as we are warranted in considering, with at at least, to ascertain whether neutral powers least silent acquiescence. The silence of the would acquiesce in his furious enactment. United States is the more to be deplored,
because that country-remote from the theatre
of any such port; and any vessel, after being so
war, and completely secure from any atwarned, or any vessel coming from any such port, tempt of Buonaparte to shut up its portsafter a reasonable time shall have been afforded might have spoken out in frank and honest for receiving information of this his majesty's orders which shall be found proceeding to another terms with safety. It is to be regretted, howsuch port, shall be captured and brought in, and, ever, that the current of public feeling had together with her cargo, shall be condemned as already begun to set the other way.
When lawful prize. And his majesty's principal secretaries of state, the lords commissioners of the tidings of the first aggression on the part of admiralty, and the judges of the high court of the French Emperor reached them, no voico admiralty, and courts of vice admiralty, are to take the necessary measures herein as to them shall respectively appertain.
* The first notice of it is to be found in the PresW. FAWKENER. ident's angry message of October 27, 1807.
course open to the
The affair of the
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 Ilumphries, 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 be mustered for examination by any other and plaintive and supplicatory, compared with officers than his own. Captain Humphries, the strong and angry language frequently ad- on receiving this reply, fired a broadside into dressed from Washington to ministers and the Chesapeake, to which the latter vessel replenipotentiaries of Great Britain.
turned a few shots, in a confused manner; the
Leopard then repeating her fire, the AmeriWhilst dissatisfaction Chesapeake, 24 June,
can frigate struck her colors. A boat was was thus too evidently then put off from the Leopard ; and the men increasing on the part of the Government and were discovered and removed. In this affair inhabitants of the United States, an inauspi- the Chesapeake had three men killed and cious enforcement of the right of search, by eighteen wounded, amongst the latter of whom H. M. ship Leopard, against the American
was Commodore Barron; besides which the frigate, Chesapeake, contriimted still further damage done to her hull and masts was conto agitate the public mind.
siderable. The captured deserters were taken As it was known that several British sea- to Halifax and tried; and one of them, being men had deserted from different ships and found guilty of piracy and mutiny, was hanged. vessels of H. M. navy, whilst lying at anchor It is a circumstance worthy of notice, -as in Hampton Roads, Va., and that, after the evincing on the part of the U. S. navy at the whole body of the deserters had openly pa- time & spirit gallant and resolute enough, raded the streets of Norfolk, under the Ame- though too irascible,—that Commodore Barrican flag, and protected by the Magistrates ron was censured and suspended soon afterof the town, four of them, at least, had been wards by a naval court, for not preparing bis received on board the U. S. frigate Chesa vessel more fully for action, when there was peake, Admiral Berkeley, then in command of sufficient time to do so, and thus incapacitatthe North American station, issued instruc- ing himself from making more than the slight tions for their requisition and removal,—the and very ineffective resistance which he offered 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,-afterwarıls 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