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Opposition to the War of 1812 was widespread in the United States, especially in New England. Many New Englanders opposed the conflict on political, economic, and religious grounds.
The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico.
New England is a region composed of six states in the northeastern United States: Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. It is bordered by the state of New York to the west and by the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick to the northeast and Quebec to the north. The Atlantic Ocean is to the east and southeast, and Long Island Sound is to the southwest. Boston is New England's largest city, as well as the capital of Massachusetts. Greater Boston is the largest metropolitan area, with nearly a third of New England's population; this area includes Worcester, Massachusetts, Manchester, New Hampshire, and Providence, Rhode Island.
When embargo failed to remedy the situation and Great Britain refused to rescind the Orders in Council (1807) and France continued its decrees, certain Democratic-Republicans known as war hawks felt compelled to go to war. Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun pushed a declaration of war through Congress, stressing a short war had the added benefit of permitting the United States to grab valuable farmlands in the British colony of Canada. Vehement protests erupted in those parts of the country where the opposition Federalist political party held sway, especially in Connecticut and Massachusetts. The governors of these two states as well as Rhode Island refused to place their state militias under federal control for duty outside their respective states. In the elections that followed in a few months, some members of Congress who voted for war, paid the price. Eight New England congressmen were rejected by the voters, and several others saw the writing on the wall and declined to seek reelection. There was a complete turnover of the New Hampshire delegation.
The Embargo Act of 1807 was a general embargo on all foreign nations enacted by the United States Congress against Great Britain and France during the Napoleonic Wars.
These Orders in Council were a series of decrees, in the form of Orders in Council, made by the Privy Council of the United Kingdom in the course of the wars with Napoleonic France which instituted its policy of commercial warfare. The Orders are important for the role they played in shaping the British war effort against France, but they are also significant for the strained relations—and sometimes military conflict—they caused between the United Kingdom and neutral countries, whose trade was affected by them.
The Democratic-Republican Party was an American political party founded by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in the early 1790s. The party championed republicanism, political equality, and expansionism. The Democratic-Republicans became increasingly dominant after the 1800 elections and splintered during and after the 1824 presidential election; one faction of the Democratic-Republicans eventually coalesced into the Democratic Party.
Federalists were opposed to war with Great Britain before 1812, which can be seen in their opposition to the Embargo of 1807. While many Democrat-republicans thought of the war as a "test of the Republic", Federalists denounced calls for war, with John Randolph advising Madison to abandon the thought of war, as it would threaten United States commerce.All members of Congress that voted for war were Republicans, while 22 opposed war, along with 40 Federalists. Following Madison's declaration of war, the Federalist minority in the House of Representatives released "An Address...to their constituents on the war with Great Britain", which identified the Federalists as the party of peace, rebuffing many of the points Madison made in his declaration of war.
As the war continued, New England Federalists maintained their opposition. But this is not to say the region as a whole opposed the national war effort. Much of the financing and a substantial portion of the army and navy came from the region. In number of recruits furnished the regular army, only New York supplied more. Elbridge Gerry, the Vice President, and William Eustis, the secretary of war, hailed from Massachusetts. A top army general, Henry Dearborn, came from New Hampshire, and illustrious naval officers such as Isaac Hull, Charles Morris, and Oliver Hazard Perry were New Englanders. As important, New England sent more officially sanctioned privateers to sea than other areas.
Elbridge Thomas Gerry was an American politician and diplomat. As a Democratic-Republican he served as the fifth vice president of the United States under President James Madison from March 1813 until his death in November 1814. The phenomenon of gerrymandering was named after him.
William Eustis was an early American physician, politician, and statesman from Massachusetts. Trained in medicine, he served as a military surgeon during the American Revolutionary War, notably at the Battle of Bunker Hill. He resumed medical practice after the war, but soon entered politics.
Henry Dearborn was an American soldier and statesman. In the Revolutionary War, he served under Benedict Arnold in the expedition to Quebec, of which his journal provides an important record. After being captured and exchanged, he served in George Washington's Continental Army, and was present at the British surrender at Yorktown. Dearborn served on General Washington's staff in Virginia. He was US Secretary of War, serving under President Thomas Jefferson from 1801 to 1809, and served as a commanding general in the War of 1812. In later life his criticism of General Israel Putnam's performance at the Battle of Bunker Hill caused a major controversy. Fort Dearborn in Illinois and the city of Dearborn, Michigan, were named in his honor.
Throughout the war, Federalists in Congress stifled bills that levied more funding for the war, and in September 1814, when Madison issued a conscription bill to increase the number of men within the professional army, Federalists publicly opposed the bill, and likened it the Napoleon's levée-en-masse, once again conflating Republicans with the French dictator.
The Federalists had no control of national policy, however. As the war dragged on, they grew increasingly frustrated. Eventually, some in New England, began to advocate constitutional changes that would increase their diminished influence at the national level. The Hartford Convention, with 26 delegates from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and dissident counties in Vermont and New Hampshire, was held in December 1814 to consider remedies. It was called to discuss proposed Constitutional amendments. Many federalists within Massachusetts believed that the Hartford Convention was the only way to save the Union from Republicans, and from civil war.Its final report called for several Constitutional amendments. However, when convention representatives arrived in Washington to advocate their changes, they were greeted with news of a peace treaty with Britain, the Treaty of Ghent, which essentially restored the pre-war status quo, as well as the great American victory at the Battle of New Orleans. This undercut their position, leaving them with little support. They returned home, and the decline of the Federalist Party continued.
The Hartford Convention was a series of meetings from December 15, 1814 to January 5, 1815, in Hartford, Connecticut, United States, in which the New England Federalist Party met to discuss their grievances concerning the ongoing War of 1812 and the political problems arising from the federal government's increasing power.
Massachusetts, officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It borders on the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island to the south, New Hampshire and Vermont to the north, and New York to the west. The state is named after the Massachusett tribe, which once inhabited the east side of the area, and is one of the original thirteen states. The capital of Massachusetts is Boston, which is also the most populous city in New England. Over 80% of the population of Massachusetts lives in the Greater Boston metropolitan area, a region influential upon American history, academia, and industry. Originally dependent on agriculture, fishing and trade, Massachusetts was transformed into a manufacturing center during the Industrial Revolution. During the 20th century, Massachusetts's economy shifted from manufacturing to services. Modern Massachusetts is a global leader in biotechnology, engineering, higher education, finance, and maritime trade.
Connecticut is the southernmost state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. As of the 2010 Census, it has the highest per-capita income, Human Development Index (0.962), and median household income in the United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, New York to the west, and Long Island Sound to the south. Its capital is Hartford and its most populous city is Bridgeport. It is part of New England, although portions of it are often grouped with New York and New Jersey as the tri-state area. The state is named for the Connecticut River which approximately bisects the state. The word "Connecticut" is derived from various anglicized spellings of an Algonquian word for "long tidal river".
At the outbreak of war, there was widespread resistance by many Americans, with many militias refusing to go to war, and bankers even refusing to back a Federal currency, and relieve the government of its debt.A Massachusetts paper, the Salem Gazette, reprinted Madison's Federalist No. 46, in which Madison made the argument for defending states' rights against a national government, in response to the national government trying to press the state militia into national service.
While a sense of patriotism offered support for the war, outside Federalist strongholds, as the war dragged on and the U.S. suffered frequent reversals on land, opposition to the war extended beyond Federalist leaders. As a result, the pool of army volunteers dried.
For example, after the British seized Fort Niagara and sacked the town of Lewiston, New York, General George McClure tried to call up the local militia to drive them back, but found that most would not respond, tired of repeated drafts and his earlier failures. Even those who did appear, McClure wrote, were more interested "in taking care of their families and property by carrying them into the interior, than helping us to fight."
There were many examples of other militias refusing to enter Canada, and either disobeying or simply refusing orders to move into Canadian territory. Political opinions even interfered with communication between officers at the beginning of the war.
This was shown in national recruitment efforts as well. While Congress authorized the War Department to recruit 50,000 one-year volunteers, only 10,000 could be found, and the Army never reached half of its authorized strength. A national conscription plan was proposed in Congress, but defeated with the aid of Daniel Webster, though several states passed conscription policies. Even Kentucky, home state of the best-known war hawk Henry Clay, was the source of only 400 recruits in 1812.[ citation needed ] It was not until the war was concluded that its retrospective popularity shot up again.
Many members of the Democratic-Republican Party viewed opposition as treasonous or near-treasonous once the war was declared. The Washington National Intelligencer wrote that, "WAR IS DECLARED, and every patriot heart must unite in its support... or die without due cause." The Augusta Chronicle wrote that "he who is not for us is against us."
This sentiment was especially strong in Baltimore, at the time a boomtown with a large population of recent French, Irish, and German immigrants who especially hated Britain. In early 1812, several riots took place, centering on the anti-war Federalist newspaper the Federal Republican. Its offices were destroyed by a mob. Local and city officials, all war hawks, expressed disapproval of the violence but did little to stop it. When the editors of Federal Republican tried to return, they were removed from protective custody in a jail by a mob, on the night of July 27, and tortured; one Revolutionary War veteran, James Lingan, died of his injuries. Opponents of the war then largely ceased to openly express their opposition in Baltimore. However, Federalists did take advantage of the incident to publicize Lingan's funeral in stories that were widely printed about around the country.
The Baltimore riots were the height of violent backlash during the war, whose popularity dropped through 1813 and 1814. However, after the war, when the Hartford Convention's proceedings became public just after a peace treaty was signed with Britain, there was a longer-term backlash against the Federalist Party, which became associated with secession and treason. The party never regained national predominance, fielding its last Presidential candidate in 1816 and fading away entirely by the end of the 1820s.
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The War of 1812 was the first war declared by the United States, as the U.S., and so some historians see it as the first to develop widespread antiwar sentiment. (However, there was also anti-war sentiment during the Quasi-War and the First Barbary War.) There is little direct continuity between the opponents of the War of 1812 and later antiwar movements, as the Federalist party's objections weren't based on pacifism, and as this same "antiwar" party effectually disappeared soon after peace was concluded. The end of the war also influenced the growing unpopularity of the Federalist party, as The Hartford Convention was quickly condemned by Republicans, especially in light of the American victory at New Orleans.
However, the war did result in the formation of the New York Peace Society in 1815 in an effort to prevent similar future wars. The New York Peace Society was the first peace organization in the United States, lasting in various incarnations until 1940. A number of other peace societies soon formed, including eventually the American Peace Society, a national organization which exists to the present day. The American Peace Society was formed in 1828 by the merger of the Massachusetts Peace Society and similar societies in New York, Maine, and New Hampshire.
The War of 1812 is less well known than 20th-century U.S. wars, but no other war had the degree of opposition by elected officials. Nevertheless, historian Donald R. Hickey has argued that, "The War of 1812 was America's most unpopular war. It generated more intense opposition than any other war in the nation's history, including the war in Vietnam."
James Madison Jr. was an American statesman, lawyer, diplomat, philosopher and Founding Father who served as the fourth president of the United States from 1809 to 1817. He is hailed as the "Father of the Constitution" for his pivotal role in drafting and promoting the Constitution of the United States and the United States Bill of Rights. He co-wrote The Federalist Papers, co-founded the Democratic-Republican Party, and served as the fifth United States secretary of State from 1801 to 1809.
The Federalist Party, referred to as the Pro-Administration party until the 3rd United States Congress as opposed to their opponents in the Anti-Administration party, was the first American political party. It existed from the early 1790s to the 1820s, with their last presidential candidate being fielded in 1816. They appealed to business and to conservatives who favored banks, national over state government, manufacturing, and preferred Britain and opposed the French Revolution.
The War of 1812 was a conflict fought between the United States and the United Kingdom, with their respective allies, from June 1812 to February 1815. Historians in Britain often see it as a minor theatre of the Napoleonic Wars; historians in the United States and Canada see it as a war in its own right.
The 1812 United States presidential election, the seventh quadrennial American presidential election, was held from Friday, October 30, 1812 to Wednesday, December 2, 1812. Taking place in the shadow of the War of 1812, incumbent Democratic-Republican President James Madison defeated DeWitt Clinton, who drew support from dissident Democratic-Republicans in the North as well as Federalists. It was the first presidential election to be held during a major war involving the United States.
The 1816 United States presidential election was the eighth quadrennial presidential election. It was held from Friday, November 1 to Wednesday, December 4, 1816. In the first election following the end of the War of 1812, Democratic-Republican candidate James Monroe defeated Federalist Rufus King. The election was the last in which the Federalist Party fielded a presidential candidate.
Between 1776 and 1789, the United States of America emerged as an independent country, creating and ratifying its new constitution and establishing its national government. In order to assert their traditional rights, American Patriots seized control of the colonies and launched a war for independence. The Americans declared independence on July 4, 1776, proclaiming "all men are created equal". Congress raised the Continental Army under the command of General George Washington, forged a military alliance with France and defeated the two main British invasion armies. Nationalists replaced the governing Articles of Confederation to strengthen the federal government's powers of defense and taxation with the Constitution of the United States of America in 1789, still in effect today.
Rufus King was an American lawyer, politician, and diplomat. He was a delegate for Massachusetts to the Continental Congress and the Philadelphia Convention and was one of the signers of the United States Constitution in 1787. After formation of the new Congress he represented New York in the United States Senate. He emerged as a leading member of the Federalist Party, serving as the party's last presidential nominee in the 1816 presidential election.
Timothy Pickering was a politician from Massachusetts who served in a variety of roles, most notably as the third United States Secretary of State under Presidents George Washington and John Adams. He also represented Massachusetts in both houses of Congress as a member of the Federalist Party.
Caleb Strong was a Massachusetts lawyer and politician who served as the sixth and tenth Governor of Massachusetts between 1800 and 1807, and again from 1812 until 1816. He assisted in drafting the Massachusetts State Constitution in 1779 and served as a state senator and on the Massachusetts Governor's Council before being elected to the inaugural United States Senate. A leading member of the Massachusetts Federalist Party, his political success delayed the decline of the Federalists in Massachusetts.
Levi Lincoln Jr. was an American lawyer and politician from Worcester, Massachusetts. He was the 13th Governor of Massachusetts (1825–1834) and represented the state in the U.S. Congress (1834–1841). Lincoln's nine-year tenure as governor is the longest consecutive service in state history; only Michael Dukakis, John Hancock and Caleb Strong served more years, but they were not consecutive.
Federalism in the United States, also referred to as the doctrine of shared sovereignty, is the constitutional division of power between U.S. state governments and the federal government of the United States. Since the founding of the country, and particularly with the end of the American Civil War, power shifted away from the states and toward the national government. The progression of federalism includes dual, state-centered, and new federalism.
The First Party System is a model of American politics used in history and political science to periodize the political party system that existed in the United States between roughly 1792 and 1824. It featured two national parties competing for control of the presidency, Congress, and the states: the Federalist Party, created largely by Alexander Hamilton, and the rival Jeffersonian Democratic-Republican Party, formed by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, usually called at the time the Republican Party. The Federalists were dominant until 1800, while the Republicans were dominant after 1800.
John Brooks was a doctor, military officer, and politician from Massachusetts. He served as the 11th Governor of Massachusetts from 1816 to 1823, and was one of the last Federalist officials elected in the United States.
The War of 1812 happened between Great Britain and the United States in 1812. It caused no immediate boundary changes. The main result of the war was two centuries of peace between the United States and Britain. All the causes of the war had disappeared with the end of the war between Britain and France and with the destruction of the power of Indians to block American expansion into the Northwest. American fears of the Native Americans ended, as did British plans to create a buffer Native American state. The American quest for the honor after its humiliations by the British was satisfied. The final collapse of the opposition Federalist Party opened an "Era of good feelings" with lessened partisanship and an exuberant spirit. The British paid little attention to the war, concentrating instead on their final defeat of Napoleon in 1815. The U.S. failed to gain any territory from British North America, contrary to many American politicians' land from Spain.
The presidency of James Madison began on March 4, 1809, when James Madison was inaugurated as President of the United States, and ended on March 4, 1817. Madison, the fourth United States president, took office after defeating Federalist Charles Cotesworth Pinckney decisively in the 1808 presidential election. He was re-elected four years later, defeating DeWitt Clinton in the 1812 election. His presidency was dominated by the War of 1812 with Britain. Madison was succeeded by Secretary of State James Monroe, a fellow member of the Democratic-Republican Party.
The Federalist Era in American history ran from 1788–1800, a time when the Federalist Party and its predecessors were dominant in American politics. During this period, Federalists generally controlled Congress and enjoyed the support of President George Washington and President John Adams. The era saw the creation of a new, stronger federal government under the United States Constitution, a deepening of support for nationalism, and diminished fears of tyranny by a central government. The era began with the ratification of the United States Constitution and ended with the Democratic-Republican Party's victory in the 1800 elections.
The 1816 United States elections elected the members of the 15th United States Congress. Mississippi and Illinois were admitted as states during the 15th Congress. The election took place during the First Party System. The Democratic-Republican Party controlled the Presidency and both houses of Congress, while the Federalist Party provided only limited opposition. The election marked the start of the Era of Good Feelings, as the Federalist Party became nearly irrelevant in national politics after the War of 1812 and the Hartford Convention.