Annotation: Newspaper articles after the War of 1812.
Document: New York Evening Post, 13 February 1815
On Saturday evening, about eight o’clock, arrived the British sloop of war, Favorite, bringing Mr. Carroll, one of the Secretaries attached to the American legation, bearer of a treaty of PEACE between the United States and Great Britain. He came not unexpected to us: Ever since the receipt of the October dispatches, we have entertained and expressed, as our readers know, but one opinion. A critical examination of those dispatches convinced us that the negociations would, nay, must terminate in the restoration of a speedy peace; and the speech of the Prince Regent, in November, contained an implied assurance that the preliminaries waited for little else than the form of signatures. It has come, and the public expressions of tumultuous joy and gladness that spontaneously burst forth from all ranks and degrees of people on Saturday evening, without stopping to enquire the conditions, evinced how really sick at heart they were, of a war that threatened to wring from them the remaining means of subsistence, and of which they could neither see the object nor the end. The public exhilaration shewed itself in the illumination of most of the windows in the lower part of Broadway and the adjoining streets in less than twenty minutes after Mr. Carroll arrived at the City Hotel. The street itself was illuminated by lighted candles, carried in the hands of a large concourse of the populace; the city resounded in all parts with the joyful cry of a peace! a peace! and it was for nearly two hours difficult to make one’s way through unnumbered crowds of persons of all descriptions, who came forth to see and to hear and to rejoice. In the truth, the occasion called for the liveliest marks of sincere congratulations. Never, in our opinion, has there occurred so great a once since we became an independent nation. Expresses of the glad tidings were instantly dispatched in all directions, to Boston, Philadelphia, Providence, Albany, &c., &c. The country will now be convinced that the federalists were right in the opinion they have ever held, that during the despotism of Bonaparte, no peace was ever to be expected for their own country, and therefore they publickly rejoiced at his downfall, and celebrated the restoration of the Bourbons. Men of property, particularly, should felicitate themselves, for they may look back upon the perils they have just escaped with the same sensations that the passenger in a ship experiences, when, driving directly on the breakers through the blunders of an ignorant pilot, he is unexpectedly snatched from impending destruction by a sudden shifting of the wind. Fears were entertained, that it was really intended, like losing and desperate gamblers, to find a pretence for never paying the public debt, in the magnitude of the sum: that a spunge would be employed in the last resort, as the favorite instrument to wipe off all scores at once. A principle nearly bordering on this, was, not long ago, openly avowed on the floor of Congress by a member from Virginia. Neither is it a small cause of congratulation that we are now to be delivered from that swarm of leeches that have so long fastened upon the nation, and been sucking its blood. Their day is over. Let the nation rejoice.
What the terms of the peace are, we cannot tell; they will only be made known at Washington, by the dispatches themselves. But one thing I will venture to say now and before they are opened, and I will hazard my reputation upon the correctness of what I say, that when the terms are disclosed, it will be found that the government have not by this negociation obtained one single avowed object for which they involved the country in this bloody and expensive war.
National Advocate, 17 February 1815
Cold and unfeeling must be that man who thinks we have gained nothing by the present war. If there exists such an animal in the bosom of our country, suspect him – “he is fit for stratagems, spoils and treasons.” What is now our national character? Ask the admiring and astonished world. Have we gained nothing, then, for which we entered into this contest? The objects of the war were confined within a narrow compass.
To assert and defend our national rights: and to rescue, as it were, by its locks, the drowning honor of the nation.
Those rights have been manfully asserted, and most gloriously defended. On that element where they were more immediately assailed, we have humbled and appalled the haughty foe. Who is now mistress of the seas? Who waves, triumphantly, the trident of old ocean? Who is it, that sailing on the deep scorns to strike its flag to an equal force? Let the Guerriere, the Java, the Macedonian, the Frolic, the Boxer: nay, let Britannia’s whole fleets, that proudly rode on the “mountain wave” of lakes Erie and Champlain, answer these questions. We have, then, not only asserted and defended our rights; but we have most severely chastised an arrogant foe, who dared to invade them: This object, therefore, has been accomplished by the war.
Have we done nothing more? A peace of 30 years had deprived us not only of military science, but even of military ardor. This war has awakened a patriotic flame, and called forth, in volunteers, in the field of battle, the friends of our country, and its government. A soldier-like emulation has pervaded their ranks. Military science has been extensively disseminated among them. Trembling and astounded, the veterans of lord Wellington have acknowledged its effects. With proud and exulted feelings will our children’s children, repeat the deeds of valor performed by our heroes at the battles of Chippewa and of Erie; of York and of Orleans. We have thus proved ourselves worthy the rich inheritance, freedom and independence, bequeathed us by our fathers; and for “our children we have preserved it unsullied.” This object, therefore, has been accomplished by the war.
Have we done nothing more? The tools of royalty have never ceased prating against the imbecility and weakness of republics. They have contended, that, however well calculated a republican government might be for peace – war would inevitably produce intestine commotions, and all the direful consequences which were to follow, have been predicted with the most positive certainty. Where are these false prophets now? The republic is safe. Surrounded by internal traitors; a whole section of our country basely devoted to the cause of the enemy. We have entered into a conflict with one of the most powerful nations of the earth; destitute, as the editor of the Evening Post has often told us, of men, of money, of the munitions of war, and of military science, and yet, before three years have rolled away, we have beaten and discomfited that enemy by sea and by land; and in the midst of his vauntings and boastings, have humbled him in dust and ashes, and thus strengthened and consolidated our empire. This object, therefore, has been accomplished by the war.
Have we done nothing more? Our enemies were flattered with the hope that the people would prove traitors to themselves; that deprived of employment, and bleeding under the wounds which the war would necessarily inflict upon them, they would be unwilling to bear additional taxation. But the people have been tried and found faithful: they have indignantly spurned the syren voice of royalty and its degraded minions. They have demonstrated to the world that they are republicans in principle; that they are the proper conservators of their own rights; and that they merit the blessings of such a government as they now enjoy. This object, therefore, has been accomplished by the war.
Richmond Enquirer, 22 February 1815
We have now seen the Treaty of Peace, and are equally disappointed and pleased at its provisions – for after the sketches which we have received of it from the London Papers, we are somewhat surprised to see in it not one expression respecting the Fisheries, or the East India Trade. Con it over and over again, and you meet with no such words as Fisheries or East India Trade, from the beginning to the end….
When we compare the terms of this Treaty with those, which the arrogant people of England were, at no distant day, determined to impose upon us, how mortifying must the Contrast prove to Mr. Bull! Our sea coast was to be laid waste, our navy consumed, our towns reduced. Louisiana was to be restored to Spain, our empire to the North and the West lopped in its dimensions, our republic broken to atoms. Mr. Madison driven from office, and the most humiliating conditions imposed which arrogance ever dictated to a conquered people. Where are we now? We laugh all their menaces to scorn – Not one of them executed – Their backs are yet streaming with the lashes of our victorious stripes, while the Treaty leaves our country as one, indivisible, and glorious beyond all former example….
The war itself is disgraceful to them – They, the proudest people in the world, have been met and defeated, single-handed too, by a nation they had affected to despise. And more extraordinary still, we date our proudest successes from the moment when we became thus single-handed, and the war with France left them most at liberty to pour their best troops and most accomplished officers upon us – Macdonough triumphed, Prevost fled, the unparalleled achievements before New Orleans took place….
Americans! then rejoice! Thank your warriors who have given you Glory, and your ministers who have given you Peace! Be virtuous and happy! Abuse not the benefits which a good Providence has showered upon your heads!
Georgetown Federal Republican, 17 February 1815
It has pleased God to restore peace to this bleeding land. The American people are so favored by Providence, that they are not permitted to be destroyed by their own consent. This republic having survived the worst effects of the folly and wickedness of an administration, never surpassed in evil deeds and still worse designs, we know not what shock will be too severe to be stood. They cannot destroy the republic let what efforts may be made. They may retard its rise to the grandeur which it is destined to attain, they may cripple its improvement and wealth, but they cannot kill its vigor and vitality.
In no instance have we witnessed such a universal burst of joy as the news of peace has caused in this quarter. In the whole of our acquaintance, we have found but one man who regrets the event. Such a man, let him explain his “views” and motives as he may, we can only say is not a good man – is not a man to be trusted as a friend – he is the slave to the very worst of passions, and should be excluded from every circle of acquaintance. Amidst our joy, and the universal joy, at the coming of an event which we religiously believe has saved the country, we are sorry that a cloud has passed acorss our minds. But we devoutly trust, that even the one individual we allude to, may live to become sensible of the good the peace will accomplish in every way it may be viewed. Thank God! we are still safe; we are still free; that we have gone thro’ a bloody war, and have preserved our liberties entire.
We confess ourselves to be too much intoxicated with joy, to treat the subject in the manner it deserves.
All our feelings and opinions imply the fullest persuasion that the enemy has agreed to a peace honorable to the United States.
New York Evening Post, 20 February 1815
This evening the treaty itself is offered to our inspection; we peruse and examine it for ourselves; it is no longer the subject of uncertain guesses; no longer liable to misrepresentations by friend or foe. It is before us, and its terms and provisions are easy to be understood by every man, who will only employ his eyes and his judgment. The natural question that first presents itself to every mind, is, What have we gained, by the war, and what have we lost? What was our situation in 1812 before the war, and what is it now in 1815, when the war is ended? These are simple questions, which every man is quite able to answer for himself, if he will only take the trouble to call to recollection facts, with which we have all been conversant. Take the period of the year 1812, because I mean to confine myself at present to the consideration of the effects of the war. I do not extend the question so as to include a contrast between the federal and democratic administrations; to state the unexampled prosperity and happiness of the nation, during the former, or its retrograde course during the latter; “the full tide of successful experiment,” in which, democracy was compelled to acknowledge, she found it; the overflowing Treasury that was delivered to her, with ample means of an inexhaustible supply, and without burthening the people; I touch not upon that system of measures, alas! long since abandoned, which created and established a credit and a character abroad as well as at home, that in itself was wealth, and which commanded respect in every quarter of the globe; I mention not the times when the name of an American citizen, while Washington was the chief magistrate of his country, was a passport to esteem in every port and every climate; nor of that sad reverse, when it became a bye word and a reproach under Thomas Jefferson and his successor….
Let us then confine ourselves to the simple question of loss and gain by this war; which we are now enabled by looking at the terms of the treaty before us, to decide upon with certainty. We begin by enumerating the objects, for which it was originally or has been continued:
First – The conquest and retention of the Canadas. Second – The repel of the Orders in Council. Third – The abandonment of the practice of illegal blockades, and a definition of neutral and belligerent rights. Fourth – The abandonment of the practice of the impressment of our seamen.
First. The conquest and retention of Canada. And as our Commissioners have thought fit to deny, that we intended to conquer and hold Canada, it may not be amiss, once for all, to enumerate a few of the declarations made at the time, by members of the administration, by its partizans in the army, by its friends on the floor of Congress, and by the language of the National Intelligencer, the semi-official paper at Washington….
Well, we have not got Canada – Neither of the Canadas. That we have not got them in our possession is very certain: and I beg you, friendly reader, to point out, in what part of this treaty we have got the promise of them.
Secondly – the repeal of the Orders in Council – As I lately observed, we have not obtained a repeal of the Orders in Council, by this three years war; for they ceased to exist before the declaration was even known in Great Britain. But the newspapers inform us that Mr. Jefferson said that since we were once fairly at war, we would go on with it till every object was obtained.
Thirdly – The abandonment of the practice of illegal blockades and definition of neutral rights. The American Commissioners presented this point for discussion in the course of the negotiation, but that is the last we have heard of it. In what article of this Treaty, I pray you, is to be found, a syllable relative to the subject? The definition of neutral rights is not once thought of.
Fourthly – The abandonment of the practice of impressment of seamen on board of American vessels. Mr. Madison said the flag should protect the crew, and every man on board. This was the grand point that I labored more than all the rest, with the State of Kentucky. She had so many seamen on the ocean, that her Legislature resolved that this point should be made a sine qua non; so many jackstars in every port and harbor, particularly in Algiers and at Tripoli, that her Mr. Clay actually broke forth, one day in the Hall of Congress,… “Hard, hard is my fate, once I freedom enjoyed, ” etc. to the utter astonishment of the whole House.
But after all this stage effect, I cannot find a word about sailors or sailors’ fights in any part of this treaty. I have looked for it in vain. Sailors are not even mentioned or in any way alluded to.
Philadelphia Aurora, January, 1807
Politics for Farmers
Foreign governments, whose institutions and interests are dissimilar from ours, envy us, and endeavor to disturb our repose.
Nations whose policy is a combination of commercial monopoly and war, to maintain that monopoly, look upon the United States as other sects look upon the Quakers – with jealousy – because our Quaker policy exempts us from all the variety of evils to which the savage and unchristian policy of war exposes them.
Our policy, so salutary for our own people, like all human things, admits of an alloy; it tempts numbers from those foreign governments to come hither merely for a temporary term – to profit by our policy, and being enriched, to go away; these persons spread through our seaports, with the various habits of their own citizen nations, and contaminate many of our own citizens.
Many of our citizens educated in the prejudices of the government which ruled us as colonies, still retain their early attachment and prejudices, and even the most peaceful sect exhibits too many examples of the blunders of prejudice which can maintain a religious and a political sentiment at variance, and destructive one of another.
A disposition is evident in many to be discontented with a calm and tranquil prosperity; and a solicitude in others to bow down the necks of their fellow citizens, over whom they fancy they possess either greater talents or greater riches, which conveys to them a more important idea than talents, genius, or virtue.
Many persons educated after the prejudices and habits of foreign cities, and hostile to the simplicity and equality of a free state, become speculators in commerce and repay their commercial credits by infidelity to their country.
These various classes of men are wrought upon by foreign agents and emissaries – several in the receipt of stipends from foreign governments; numerous presses are indirectly bribed and kept in pay by mercantile and consular favor for the purpose of influencing our people, and forming interests, either to retard the growth of our own nation to maturity, or to create interests and alliances with foreign governments.
It is from these various and other subordinate sources that we hear the cry for war – naval establishments – and extravagant systems.
Columbian Centinel, 23 January 1808
Since the promulgation of the British Order in Council – which has certainly been expected ever since the neutral nations have refused to resent or remonstrate against the abominable and unprecedented decrees of France – some men think the embargo not so bad a measure! Does not this betray a want of calculation? Let the following facts reply:
France cannot endanger our trade to England more than to the amount of about four or five per cent. Of course the embargo is not necessary against her.
Great Britain leaves open to us:
Her own dominions and colonies throughout the world, to which we now export twenty-six millions per annum.
She relaxes her great Navigation Act in our favor.
She leaves open to us our trade to the colonies of France, Spain, and Holland, which will take off ten millions more of our produce.
She permits to us the free import of all our West India produce, which will still give us revenue and luxuries.
We can pursue the Russian, Swedish, African, and much of the Mediterranean trade; as well as all our India and China trade.
We can export all our present produce, and a very considerable part of our foreign importations.
Is not this better than an embargo, which destroys all trade, all revenue, all employment? Let those who think it is not, discuss the subject; and they will find that this British decree, bad as it is, is not by far so bad as it was reported to be.
New York Evening Post, 14 February 1815
In yesterday’s paper we gave a rapid sketch of the effects of war; today we give one of the effects of the prospect of peace even before the ratification. Our markets of every kind experienced a sudden and to many a shocking change. Sugar, for instance, fell from $26 per hundredweight to $12.50; tea, which sold at $2.25 on Saturday, yesterday ws purchased at $1; specie, which had got up to the enormous rate of 22 per cent premium, dropped down to two. The article in particular of tin fell from the height of $80 the box to $25. Six per cent bonds rose from 76 to 86, or ten per cent, and Treasury notes rose from 92 to 98 per cent. This difference between the two kinds of stock is owing to the interest being the same on both, while the price of the former is much less to the holder; that is, the holder of the former receives six per cent on $100, while the holder of the latter receives the same interest, but the principal costs him 96.
Bank stock rose generally from five to ten per cent. Sailors’ Rights beat time to the sound of the hammer at every wharf, and free trade looked briskly up; no longer did it live in toasts alone. On the other hand, wagons creaked their dying groans on their dry axle-trees. Ships swarm in the columns of our friends Lang & Turner, and glisten in a row in Crooks & Butler’s; even a few, from some friendly hand, here and there adorn the Evening Post and help to make up a show. We are grateful for what we have received.
It is really wonderful to see the change produced in a few hours in the city of New York. In no place has the war been more felt nor proved more disastrous, putting us back in our growth at least ten years; and no place in the United States will more experience the reviving blessings of a peace. Let us be grateful to that merciful Providence who has kindly interposed for our relief and delivered us from all our fears.