Jefferson and Madison Administrations

Election of 1800 – sentiment mounting against Federalists. Among the many issues dogging them::

bulletTaxation to support an unneeded army.
bulletAlien and Sedition Acts (Made Federalists appear "anti-liberty.")
bulletLingering fears of "monarchism.
bulletHostility to Hamilton’s programs.
bulletSuppression of Whiskey Rebellion
bulletJay’s treaty  

Adams decision not to declare war against either France of Great Britain finished him off; no way he could win election.

Hamilton and his group had wanted war, failure to declare war alienated them, left the Federalists divided.

Federalists nominated Adams and Charles C. Pinckney.

Hamilton and group continued to criticize Adams; as a result, after his nomination, Adams removed two of Hamilton’s people from his cabinet. Hamilton issued a pamphlet questioning Adam’s fitness to be president, spoke of his "disgusting egoism." It was intended only for Federalist eyes, but Aaron Burr got hold of it, and put it out for everyone to read. Republicans nominated Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. This created an interesting alliance between Virginia and New York.

Jefferson was vilified by the Federalists as an atheist, a Jacobin, and said his election would lead to "buildings in flames, hoary hairs bathed in blood, female chastity violated, children writhing on the pike and halberd. He refused to stoop to this level, directed his campaign by mail from his home, and was portrayed by his supporters as the farmer’s friend, for states rights, frugal government, liberty, and peace.

Jefferson and Burr tied in Electoral College, 73 votes each – election thrown into House of Representatives.

Hamilton hated Burr worse than Jefferson; worked a deal where several Federalists would cast blank ballots, gave the election to Jefferson, Burr became Vice President. This was another black mark for Hamilton in Burr’s book.

Early in 1801, "lame duck" Congress passed Judiciary Act of 1801, provided for a number of judgeships which Adams would fill. All would of course be Federalists, and since the appointments were for life, it would give the Federalists some control over the Government for years to come. Jefferson said that the Federalists had "retired into the Judiciary as a stronghold." Most important appointment was that of John Marshall as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Note: Election of 1800 marked the first Transfer of Power from one party to an opposition party.

Jefferson was first President to be inaugurated in Washington D.C. (Washington himself had been dead less than two years. Jefferson was a very common man at heart: walked from his boarding house to the Capitol to be sworn in the Senate Chamber, walked back, and sat at a common table for his inaugural dinner with invited guests. As President, he often rode on horseback, rather than the "coach and six" that Washington and Adams had used; For White House dinners, everyone was seated at a common table; the only rule of protocol was that ladies were seated first. Said Jefferson, "when brought together as society, all are perfectly equal."

Jefferson went to great lengths to avoid pomp and circumstance. He sent his messages to Congress in writing, rather than delivering them publicly, which would appear like the King addressing Parliament from the throne. Also, he was a notoriously bad public speaker.

In his inaugural address, Jefferson said, "we are all Republicans—we are all Federalists. If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it." His voice was barely audible, as he was a lousy speaker.

Although Adams and Jefferson were political enemies at the time, they became close friends after Jefferson left office, and carried on a long, affectionate correspondence. Both men died the same day, July 4, 1826, exactly 50 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Jefferson placed men of his own party in policy-making positions. He  was the first President to assume role of party leader, and cultivated congressional support at dinner parties, etc.

    Jefferson referred to his election as the "Revolution of 1800;" however, because his margin of victory had been close, he was much more conciliatory than he might otherwise have been. The most revolutionary aspect of his election was it marked a transfer of power from one political party to another in an orderly manner; something very uncommon in the world at that time.  One Washington lady wrote in her dairy: "The changes of administration which in every age have been generally epochs of confusion, villainy, and bloodshed, in this our happy country take place without any species of distraction or disorder."

Jefferson did place members of his own party in policy-making decisions:  Among them:

bulletSecretary of State: James Madison
bulletSecretary of Treasury: Albert Gallatin

Marbury vs. Madison: Congress repealed the Judiciary Act of 1801 in 1802, thereby abolishing most of the judgeships which Adams had filled in his "midnight appointments." Congress also restored the number of Supreme Court Justices to six. Many of Judges appointed under Judiciary Act of 1801 had been appointed by Adams at the last minute, the so called "midnight appointments." One of these was the appointment of William Marbury to be a Justice of the Peace in Washington, D.C. Adams had signed the commission, but it was undelivered when James Madison took office as secretary of state. Jefferson told Madison to withhold the commission.

Marbury sued for a Writ of Mandamus (A court order requiring one to take an affirmative act)  to get the Commission. The case was heard in the Supreme Court. John Marshall wanted to rule for Marbury, as Marbury, like Marshall, was a Federalist; but he knew that Jefferson would simply ignore the order, as it was up to the President to enforce Court Orders. Such an action would weaken the judiciary. So, he split the difference, he said that Marbury was entitled to the commission, but said that the portion of the Judiciary Act of 1789, which gave the Supreme Court jurisdiction, was unconstitutional—The Constitution gave the Supreme Court original jurisdiction only in cases involving ambassadors or states…so he embarrassed Jefferson and didn’t embarrass himself. Wrote Marshall:             

The powers of the legislature are defined, and limited; and that those limits may not be mistaken, or forgotten, the constitution is written. To what purpose are powers limited, and to what purpose is that limitation committed to writing, if these limits may, at any time, be passed by those intended to be restrained? The distinction, between a government with limited and unlimited powers, is abolished, if those limits do not confine the persons on whom they are imposed, and if acts prohibited and acts allowed, are of equal obligation. It is a proposition too plain to be contested, that the constitution controls any legislative act repugnant to it; or, that the legislature may alter the constitution by an ordinary act.

Between these alternatives there is no middle ground. The constitution is either a superior, paramount law, unchangeable by ordinary means, or it is on a level with ordinary legislative acts, and like other acts, is alterable when the legislature shall please to alter it.

If the former part of the alternative be true, then a legislative act contrary to the constitution is not law: if the latter part be true, then written constitutions are absurd attempts, on the part of the people, to limit a power, in its own nature illimitable

[T]he particular phraseology of the constitution of the United States confirms and strengthens the principle, supposed to be essential to all written constitutions, that a law repugnant to the constitution is void; and that courts, as well as other departments, are bound by that instrument

Important! The case of Marbury vs. Madison established principle of Judicial Review. That is, that the courts could declare a Federal law invalid if it found the law violated the Constitution.  It also asserted the Supreme Court as the interpreter of the meaning of the Constitution.

At this time, only FEDERAL law was involved; there was no right to adjudicate State laws.

The Liberty Bell cracked irreparably (appropriately) when it was rung for the John Marshall’s funeral.

Some partisan debate developed in Congress after Marbury decision. Many Republicans felt that the Federal Judges were partisan to Federalists; since they held office during "good behavior," the only way to get rid of them was through Impeachment.

Republican House impeached two Judges: (1) John Pickering, who should have been removed. He was insane, and also inclined to make drunken speeches from the bench. (2) Samuel Chase. Chase was high handed; in a Sedition Act trial, he had told the Sheriff to strike from the Jury Panel "any of those creatures or persons called democrats." Still, there were not enough votes to convict him. The precedent was thereby established that in order to remove a government official from office, his conduct must rise to the level of a criminal offense; pure improper conduct is not sufficient cause for removal.

Domestic Reforms: Jefferson did not dismantle Hamilton’s programs wholesale. He kept the National Bank as a necessity; but he did 

bulletRepeal the Whiskey tax and other excise taxes.
bulletAn Act of 1807 made foreign slave trade illegal on January 1, 1808.

Actually all states but South Carolina had already outlawed the Slave Trade. South Carolina had also outlawed it, but re-instated it in 1803. Despite its illegality, smuggling of foreign slaves continued. As many as 300,000 slaves were smuggled into the U.S. between 1808 - 1861.

The Barbary Pirates:  The rulers of Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli had long practiced piracy and extortion.  American shipping in the Mediterranean had been fair game for them, as they were no longer protected by British payments of tribute.  The American government had also paid protection money, but in 1801, the Pasha of Tripoli demanded more, and declared war on the United States. He did so by symbolically chopping down the flagpole at the U.S. consulate. Jefferson in turn sent warships to blockade Tripoli.

The war lasted until 1805. The pasha had captured the USS. Philadelphia, and held it's crew prisoner, but Lieutenant Stephen Decatur managed to slip into Tripoli and set fire to it.  Eventually, the pasha released the ship and crew in exchange for the payment of $60,000.00; much less than the $500,000.00 he had originally demanded. 

Louisiana Purchase: France under Napoleon had acquired Louisiana territory from Spain in 1800. He received it in exchange for a promise to the Spanish that he had no intention of keeping. Jefferson was concerned about New Orleans; if the French took New Orleans, they might shut it off from American traffic. Jefferson wrote the Ambassador to France: "the day that France takes possession of New Orleans, we must marry ourselves to the British fleet and nation." Jefferson had no use for the British, but this was the possible unpleasant outcome.

Jefferson told his ambassador, Robert R. Livingston to see if Napoleon would sell New Orleans to America. Napoleon, through his minister, Tallyrand, countered that he would like to sell all of Louisiana to the U.S.  Livingston was so excited, he snapped up the offer before getting word from Jefferson.

Why did Napoleon want to sell? There has been much controversy and debate on his motives. He certainly could use the money; plus he apparently lost interest in North America after a slave revolt in Haiti. Also, Americans had reacted fiercely when the Spanish governor had closed the Mississippi, so he may have thought it best to take the money, cut and run.

The Treaty of Cession was signed April 30, 1803 – U.S. paid $15,000,000 for all of Louisiana.  The actual Borders were not known; the French had no idea themselves. When asked about boundaries, Tallyrand glibly said, "I can give you no direction. You have made a noble bargain for yourselves, and I suppose that you will make the most of it."  The terms were vague enough to at least suggest a claim of Texas and also West Florida. 

This was a tremendous deal and coup for Jefferson, but it presented a problem Constitutionally. Jefferson was a strict constructionist of the Constitution, but no where does the Constitution give the Federal Government the power to purchase territory. His first plan was to propose an Amendment to the Constitution. The problem there was the length of time – Napoleon might back out of the deal in the meantime. So, he and his advisors determined that the power to acquire territory resided in the power to "make treaties." This of course, represented a broad construction of the Constitution, the very thing Jefferson had disavowed.  Jefferson’s words were "the good sense of our country will correct the evil of loose construction when it shall produce ill effects." So suddenly, Jefferson, the strict construction man, was construing the Constitution loosely in order to achieve the desired effect.

The Federalists were unhappy about new areas coming in, which would be primarily Republican. They were particularly concerned that citizens of the new area would be citizens of the U.S. For that reason, and in a supreme act of irony, they argued against the deal, asserting a strict construction of the Constitution. And so, for the first time in American History, the two parties swapped sides – the Federalists arguing for Strict Construction, and the Republicans for broad construction.

Lewis and Clark: Jefferson was something of an amateur scientist, and as a result was interested in the flora and fauna of the new area. He wanted to have it explored to find out all about it. Jefferson also wanted to see if there was a Water Route across the U.S. which would lead from the Mississippi River.

Jefferson sent his personal secretary, Meriwether Lewis (only 29 at the time) and William Clark on an expedition to explore the area. This was the Lewis and Clark expedition. The trip took two and a half years. For a large part of the trip they were guided by an Indian woman married to a trapper, Sacajawea; (translated, "Canoe Launcher.") who also served as their interpreter for the Indians along the way. They traveled as far as the Columbia River and reached the Pacific Coast.

Sacajawea appears on the new One Dollar Coin.

Both Lewis and Clark kept very detailed journals of their trip, and brought back many stuffed specimens of birds, animals, etc. Lewis tended to describe them in great detail. He wrote several pages simply describing a bird’s wing. This sort of thing was fascinating to Jefferson. The expedition accomplished several things: they described the abundant animals of the area, plus said the Indians were friendly, which made the area attractive to traders and trappers. The trip also gave the U.S. a claim to the Oregon Territory.

Good Book on the trip: Undaunted Courage by Stephen A. Ambrose.

Lewis turned out to be an alcoholic, and had many problems with it; he ultimately died from suicide after losing everything.

Jefferson also sent Zebulon Pike to discover the source of the Mississippi River. Pike took a wrong turn up the Arkansas River, (1806-07), and discovered Pike’s Peak, but did not climb it. He and his men were captured by a Spanish expedition that sent him home by way of Santa Fe. Details of Pike’s trip were published before those of Lewis and Clark’s expedition. It gave people their first picture of the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains. It also contributed to the idea, widely held, that the center of the Continent was the "Great American Desert"

Political Schemes: The Louisiana Purchase had made Jefferson immensely popular, so much so that the Federalists began losing ground everywhere, even in New England. John Quincy Adams, the son of the former President, even became a Republican.

A group of die-hard Federalists under the leadership of one Thomas Pickering  formed a group known as the Essex Junto. They understood only too well that, with the addition of new territory, the influence of New England in political affairs would be reduced to almost nothing. So, their plan was to possibly secede New England from the Union. They also planned to include New York in the scheme, and to that end, recruited the then Vice President, Aaron Burr, to run for Governor of New York. His election there would help the scheme along. Burr had fallen out with the Republicans along the way.

Hamilton caught wind of the scheme, and it was too much for him. He described Burr as "a dangerous man and one who should not be trusted with the reins of Government."  Newspapers caught wind of Hamilton’s remarks and printed them. Burr demanded an explanation, and the result was a duel in 1804 between Burr and Hamilton. Hamilton was killed in the duel in Weehawken, New Jersey. This ruined Burr’s political career, and ended the Essex Junto, but Burr was too slick to be down with one murder to his credit.

Hamilton was personally opposed to dueling, but his sense of honor, and the old image of himself as the dashing hero got the best of him. He decided before leaving that he would not shoot at Burr, and signed his will before leaving New York. In fact, he drew first shot (people in Duels normally flipped a coin to see who would shoot first and who drew first fire) and shot into the air. A shot in the air was considered a meritorious effort to end a quarrel with honor being satisfied. When it was Burr's  shot,  he struck and killed Hamilton. There is much speculation about what really happened. Hamilton's shot actually struck a tree limb over Burr's head. Pistols of the day were notoriously inaccurate, and some historians have argued that Burr may have inferred that Hamilton had in fact aimed at him, but the shot went amiss. There is also some argument that Burr really intended only to wing Hamilton in the hip, a common practice in the day; but again the shot went awry, and ruptured Hamilton's spleen. Burr was quite disturbed when he realized the extent of Hamilton's wound (the two had been friends years before) and wanted to speak to Hamilton, who lay wounded; however his seconds advised against it and he left for New York. Hamilton died on the raft which was returning him to New York. Burr was later Indicted for Murder in New York and New Jersey, but flaunted it with abandon, even presided over the Senate, he just stayed out of New Jersey and New York, so he wouldn’t be arrested.

   Ironically, Hamilton's son had been killed in a duel at the very same dueling ground several years earlier. 

Presidential Campaign of 1804: Jefferson re-elected, George Clinton elected as Vice President. They won by a landslide, largely as a result of Jefferson's conciliatory policies during his first term. Following the election, particularly with the stigma of the Essex Junto, the Federalist Party faded away.

Divisions Within the Republican Party

The Tertium Quid: In new Congress, Republicans held three quarters of seats, but divisions soon developed, primarily by the ultra-conservatives, who insisted on "old Republicanism," the old very strict construction of the Constitution that had been Jefferson’s position years before. They were more Jeffersonian than even Jefferson himself. Among their leaders was John Randolph of Virginia, who loved to lecture fellow Congressman in a shrill soprano voice, and who strutted about the House chamber carrying a bull whip. The Philosopher of the movement was one John Caroline who had strong ideas of states' rights and strict construction.  His ideas didn't go far at this time, but they were later used with pleasure by secessionists in later years. Those opposed to Jefferson within his own party became known as the Tertium Quid, Latin for the "third something." There was talk of forming a third party, but it never got off the ground.  The Tertium Quid represented the first attempt at a "Third Political Party movement" within the U.S. It would not be the last, but like those that followed it, it was not successful. American politics has been almost exclusively two-party; although there are those who attempt third party movements from time to time: Examples: George Wallace and Ross Perot.

Burr Again: Burr’s political career was ruined when he shot Hamilton; even Hamilton’s most bitter enemies were horrified at what happened. Said John Adams, "No one wished to get rid of Hamilton that way." 

The Burr Conspiracy: Burr was indicted for Murder in New Jersey and New York and heavily in debt. He went to Spanish Florida to hide until the uproar died down, and then returned, and in his capacity as Vice President, presided over the Senate. He need only stay out of New York and New Jersey. One senator complained, "we have indeed fallen on evil times." Burr and one General James Wilkerson, whose reputation was only slightly less soiled than Burr’s concocted a scheme to have Louisiana secede from the U.S. and create an empire for themselves. Burr had even solicited British support for his scheme.

Burr sailed downriver on the Ohio and Mississippi in a lavish flatboat, but Wilkerson got cold feet, and wrote Jefferson of a "deep, dark, wicked, and wide-spread conspiracy." Wilkerson claimed to be ignorant of any of the plans. Jefferson ordered Burr arrested.

Burr learned of the warrant, and headed for Florida, but was intercepted, and brought back to the U.S. for trial. His case was tried before Chief Justice John Marshall.

At that time, Supreme Court Justices also sat as trial judges who rode circuit in Federal Courts.

The case revealed Marshall and Jefferson at their worst. Marshall said Jefferson was using Burr as a political scapegoat; and Jefferson was determined to get a conviction at any cost. Jefferson published affidavits in advance of the trial and promised pardons to anyone who would help convict Burr. Marshall attended a dinner given by Burr’s defense counsel at which Burr himself was present.

This was the closest thing around to the Clinton Impeachment.

Two Constitutional Precedents developed:

bulletJefferson was subpoenaed to testify and furnish certain papers in his possession – he ignored the subpoena. (Similar to Washington’s refusal to submit papers to Congress on grounds of Executive Privilege.) Jefferson and Washington both believed the independence of the Executive branch would be compromised if the President were subject to court writ. The established precedent was that the President, in his official capacity as President, is exempt from subpoena.
bulletMarshall adopted a strict interpretation of treason, probably as a favor to Burr. He said that under the constitution, Treason required two witnesses under the constitution that a defendant had made war against the United States or adhered to their enemies. Marshall said the Constitution required two witnesses to an overt act of treason. Since there were not two, Burr was acquitted.

The decision, however jaded by the political motivations which gave rise to it, was wise. It has protected the United States and its citizens from capricious judgments of treason often used by other governments. In England, anyone critical of King could be found guilty of treason; in fact, adultery with the Queen was an act of high treason. Further charges were pending against Burr, but he skipped bail, and went to France to wait for the air to cool. He returned in 1812 to practice law in New York. He apparently was the Strom Thurmond of his generation; as just before his death at age 80, his wife sued for divorce on the grounds of Adultery.

War In Europe

Napoleon was fighting in Europe; French had dominance over the continent; but England dominated the seas. It has been characterized as the "Battle of the Elephant and the  Whale." Neither could strike a decisive blow against the other; and neither worried much about rights of neutrality or international law.

Americans, true to form, traded with French and Spanish West Indies and with the British as well.  British began stopping and seizing American ships, not only to stop trade with the French, but to prevent interference with British commerce.

British Council and Napoleon each issued Blockade orders of the other – which meant that if American shippers traded with one, they violated the blockade order of the other. The commercial provisions of Jay's Treaty expired in 1807, and Madison, as Secretary of State, was unable to get it renewed.

    The British ministry issued a series of Orders in Council which proclaimed a "paper blockade" of Europe, barring all trade between England and Europe, and proclaiming that any ships headed for continental ports must get a license and were subject to British inspection.  Napoleon retorted with his "Continental system," which declared his own blockade of Britain, and said that neutral ships that complied with British regulations were subject to seizure if they entered continental ports. So, American shippers were caught between the devil and the deep blue sea; if they complied with the demands of one, they violated the rules of the other.  However, the potential profits were to great, so many shippers simply took their chances. 

The situation was aggravated by practice of "impressment." The British Navy had long kidnapped men in ports and "pressed" them into service. The Kidnappers were called "press gangs." British subjects were sometimes seized from American ships, under the idea "Once an Englishman, always an Englishman." Since many carried fake papers claiming American citizenship, such papers were treated with suspicion; so "they all claim they are American anyway…" often came up. Some Americans were pressed into British service.

Most ships stopped were Merchant vessels, but at least two American navy ships were stopped on the high seas, and seamen removed.

The British ship Leopard fired on the American Chesapeake when it refused to be searched. Four seamen were killed. The Chesapeake was forced to strike its colors. (lower the flag – a sign of surrender). Several seamen were removed; one was hanged for desertion from the British navy.  The result was a torrent of outrage. Had Congress been in session, Jefferson may have been forced to declare war. Like Adams before him, however, he refused to declare war, and suffered politically for it.

One Federalist said Jefferson was a "dish of skim milk, curdling at the head of our nation."

The Embargo:  Jefferson attempted to use "public indignation as a way to peaceably coerce the British into backing down.

In 1807, Congress passed the Embargo Act at his request.

bulletStopped all export of American Goods.
bulletProhibited American ships from leaving for foreign ports.

Constitutional power he claimed came from the power to regulate commerce, which the Republicans construed (another broad construction) as the ability to prohibit commerce. Once again, Jefferson and the Republicans relied on broad construction when it proved politically expedient.

An Article in the National Intelligencer read: Let the example teach the world that our firmness equals our moderation, that having resorted to a measure just in itself, and adequate in its object, we will flinch from no sacrifices which the honor and good of the nation demand from virtuous and faithful citizens.’

Embargo failed from the beginning. Idealism was gone, and people were unwilling to make the necessary sacrifices just for principle.

bulletTrade remained profitable.
bulletViolation of the Embargo was rampant.
bulletLoopholes allowed ships to leave on pretense.
bulletCanadian trade flourished.
bulletAgriculture in South and West suffered –lack of markets for grain, cotton, tobacco.

France was hurt very little; some British merchants were hurt by the cotton embargo, but in turn, British shippers made a killing. The embargo actually resurrected the Federalist Party in New England, which claimed once again that Jefferson was in league with the French. After 15 months, Jefferson admitted the Embargo was a failure, and signed a bill that repealed it. Shortly thereafter, his term ended. He spoke of his time as President as "splendid misery."

1808 Election: Federalists: Charles C. Pinckney

                                                  Rufus King

                          Republicans: James Madison

                                                 George Clinton

Madison and Clinton won by a landslide.


Madison as President

Madison was plagued with Foreign policy problems from the start; pursued "peaceable coercion" as had Jefferson, but also failed to achieve it. In place of the Embargo, Congress passed the Non-Intercourse Act, which reopened trade with all nations except France and Great Britain; and authorized the President to reopen trade with either of these that lifted restrictions on American shipping.

British and French offered to give in, but complications developed – the result was war between Great Britain and United States: War of 1812Prior to the War, Napoleon had offered to withdraw the Continental system if Britain would withdraw it's Orders In Council.  Madison did not handle the situation well, and asked for a declaration of war.  The British did not want war with the U.S. while they were fighting Napoleon, and Napoleon was still seizing American ships.  The British Orders in Council were repealed on June 18, 1812, but Madison had asked for war on June 1.  Without transatlantic cable or other means of communication, the word reached Madison too late.


bulletImpressment of American sailors on British ships.
bulletDemand for neutral rights.
bulletBritish incitement of Indians in the West and Northwest.
bulletSettlers and speculators moving west had pushed Indians off lands; often with treaties the Indians did not understand; and many of which were openly violated by whites.
bulletA Shawnee Indian prophet Tenskwatawa , known as "the Prophet" had preached union of the Indians, that they should worship the "master of life," resist liquor and lead a simple life. His Brother, Tecumseh organized several tribes together. The Indians made war on Whites, but were defeated by Gen. William Henry Harrison at the Battle of Tippecanoe. Tippecanoe reinforced suspicions that British had incited Indians. The British were still fur-trading with the Indians.
bulletConquest of Canada - taking Ontario would remove British who were stirring up the Indians; it would also open up new land to be part of U.S. for settlers.

Ontario was attractive because it was the only place where the British were vulnerable to American attack.

Several members of Congress insisted on war to defend the "national honor." They became known as the "war hawks." (so named by John Randolph ) All were newly elected to Congress. Said Randolph: "We have heard but one word—like the whippoorwill, but one eternal monotonous tone: "Canada! Canada! Canada!" The War hawks were: 

bulletHenry Clay - Kentucky (Later Speaker of the House)
bulletRichard M. Johnson - Kentucky
bulletFelix Grundy - Tennessee
bulletJohn C. Calhoun - South Carolina. 

Sadly, the U.S. was poorly prepared for war, militarily or financially.

Financial Problems:

bulletCharter of Bank of U.S. had been allowed to expire in 1811 –strict constructionist Republicans and those who feared British investment in the bank did it in.
bulletState banks had been mismanaged; much money lost through bankruptcy.
bulletTrade, tariff revenues had fallen sharply.
bulletLoans needed to fund 2/3 of War costs but Northeastern opponents to war were reluctant to loan money.
bulletGovernment bonds difficult to float – few investors wanted to buy them.

Military Problems:

bulletArmy was small (6,700 men) Republicans opposed to standing army had kept it to a minimum. It was ill trained, poorly equipped, officers were aging.  Winfield Scott noted that most of the Veteran officers "had very generally slunk into either sloth, ignorance, or habits of intemperate drinking."
bulletNavy was in good shape - had been tested in fighting against France and Barbary Pirates in Tripoli. BUT, was only successful early on. Within a year, British had blockaded the East Coast –most of fleet stayed bottled up in port.

Ironically, the British did not blockade New England. They hoped to stir up anti-war sentiment there, since it was a Federalist stronghold.

Course of the War:

Commodore Oliver H. Perry defeated British at the Battle of Lake Erie.

Perry’s famous message to Gen. William Henry Harrison: "We have met the enemy and they are ours.

bulletBattle of the Thames – Harrison eliminated British power in upper Canada. Tecumseh was killed in this battle –his dream of Indian Unity died with him.
bulletBattle of Horseshoe Bend – Andrew Jackson defeated Creek Indians, gained two thirds of Creek land in U.S. (primarily in Georgia and Alabama.

When Creeks had attacked Fort Mims on the Alabama River, Jackson was in bed recovering from a street brawl with Thomas Hart Benton, who was himself later a senator from Missouri.

BUT: Three days after Jackson’s victory at Horseshoe Bend was battle of Waterloo. Suddenly, Napoleon was no longer a threat in Europe, and the British could devote all their efforts to whipping the U.S.

1814 – British landed in Maryland, and marched on Washington D.C.

Madison and Cabinet were forced to flee – British went into White House, ate a meal prepared for Madison and his Cabinet, and then burned the city to the ground. Only building left standing was the Patent Office – they had great respect for technology and inventions. British then attacked Baltimore – fired on Fort McHenry, an island in Baltimore Harbor. The British bombarded Ft. McHenry all night long, but finally gave up –wasn’t worth it. Frances Scott Key, a lawyer, watched the bombardment from a ship in the harbor. Sight of the Flag still in place at dawn the next day inspired him to write "The Star Spangled Banner."

The Star Spangled Banner was set to the tune of an English Drinking Song, "To Anacreon in Heaven." 

To Anacreon in heaven where he sat in full glee,
A few sons of harmony sent a petition,
That he their inspirer and patron would be,
When this answer arrived from the jolly old Grecian:
Voice, fiddle aud flute, no longer be mute,
I'll lend you my name and inspire you to boot!
And besides I'll instruct you like me to entwine
The myrtle of Venus and Bacchus's vine.

The news through Olympus immediately flew,
When old Thunder pretended to give himself airs,
If these mortals are suffered their scheme to pursue,
The devil a goddess will stay above stairs,
Hark! already they cry, in transports of joy,
A fig for Parnassus, to Rowley's we'll fly,
And there my good fellows, we'll learn to entwine
The myrtle of Venus and Bacchus's vine.

The yellow-haired god, and his nine fusty maids,
To the hill of old Lud will incontinent flee,
Idalia will boast but of tenantless shades,
And the biforked hill a mere desert will be,
My thunder, no fear on't, will soon do its errand,
And, damn me I'll swinge the ringleaders, I warrant
I'll trim the young dogs, for thus daring to twine
The myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's vine.

Apollo rose up and said, "Prythee ne'er quarrel,
Good king of the gods, with my votaries below
Your thunder is useless - then showing his laurel,
Cried, Sic evitabile fulmen, you know!
Then over each head my laurels I'll spread,
So my sons from your crackers no mischief shall dread
Whilst snug in their club-room, they jovially twine
The myrtle of Venus and Bacchus's vine.

Wanna Here it?  Go Here

The Battle of New Orleans: British under General Sir Edward Pakenham planned an attack on New Orleans, defended by Andrew Jackson. Jackson build earthworks bolstered by cotton bales. Jackson’s position was almost invulnerable. Jackson’s army was a ragtag bunch of pirates, free blacks, frontiersmen. Pakenham thought they were nothing, couldn’t fight, ordered his troops to charge – a full frontal assault. January 8, 1815. Two thousand Brits killed, including Pakenham. It was a wholesale slaughter.

Pakenham’s wife was waiting on a ship for his return. His body was pickled in a barrel of rum and returned to her.

Ironically, the Treaty to end the war had been signed before Battle of New Orleans, but it did hurry both sides along to ratify it. If the British had captured New Orleans, they might have taken advantage of their position to reopen negotiations. 

The Treaty of Ghent ended the War. (Christmas Eve, 1814)

Negotiations were slow and tough. British were stalling to see if they won more battles; Czar of Russia had offered to mediate, but got tied up in the war with Napoleon. Throughout, the British were more interested in redrawing the map of Europe than putting up with Americans. Under terms of treaty, all property was returned, prisoners exchanged; it was a return to the status quo ante bellum. In another ironic note, the impressment issue was not even mentioned in the final treaty.

At Battle of New Orleans, Jackson was described as being "hard as a Hickory Stick," thus his nickname: "Old Hickory."

The Hartford Convention:

New England states had been opposed to war; called it "Mr. Madison’s War." They had also engaged in illegal trading and profiteering, and had made a killing trading with the enemy. After the defeat of Napoleon, British turned on New England; they blockaded the New England ports, occupied Maine, and even threatened Boston. A meeting called in Hartford, Conn. of New England states, primarily composed of Federalists still unhappy over Republican control, who demanded seven Constitutional Amendments, all intended to lessen Republican power. They threatened to secede if demands not met. Members of the Convention included members of the old Essex Junto. Met December 14, 1814.


bullet  Abolition of the three-fifths compromise.
bullet  2/3 vote required to admit new states or declare war.
bullet  No embargoes lasting more than sixty days.
bullet  No foreign born could hold Federal offices.
bullet  President could serve only one term.
bullet  Successive Presidents could not come from the same state.

When messengers from Convention reached Washington, they arrived at same time of news of Jackson’s victory at New Orleans; and of the signing of the Treaty of Ghent. in the face of the end of the war, the plan quickly evaporated. the failure of Hartford Convention marked the death knell of the Federalist Party: a stigma attached of disloyalty, and of provincialism; and loyalty to their own area instead of to the nation.

Interestingly, Politicians from New England would levy this same charge at the South after the Civil War, even though the South claimed no special rights other than those claimed at Hartford!

Aftermath of the War:

bullet "Second War of Independence." Talk of Heroes such as Jackson, etc.
bullet  Launched American economic independence – interruption of  Intense feeling of patriotism resulted. War had encouraged American manufacturing. Jefferson’s embargo had also encouraged manufacturing to develop in the U.S. .
bullet  American prestige as an independent nation established. Country was not yet 40 years old, many European countries had not taken seriously. Now they had to.
bulletA further reversal of roles between Federalists and Republicans. Republicans became advocates of broad Construction; Federalists of narrow construction:   Republicans had opposed peacetime army. War taught Madison the advantages of such an Army; so now he wanted it back. Lack of a National Bank had crippled war effort – Madison wanted to reinstate the Bank, another politically expedient change of position.      
bulletRise of new manufacturing industries created call for tariffs on imported Manufactured goods so as to protect American industry. Madison went along, another reversal of policy..


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