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U.S.S. Constitution in Tremendous Victory at Sea: Fort Michilimackinac, Detroit, and Ft. Dearborn Lost to the Brits

Posted By on August 29, 2012

Washington, August 29, 1812, Jacob C. Blacklidge, Special Correspondent

A Great Victory

We have just received news from Boston that the U.S.S. Constitution has encountered the H.M.S. Guerriere on August 19th some 600 miles out of Boston. The strongest ship is our navy, at 54 guns, gained fame some weeks ago in the escape off the coast of New Jersey from four British ships of the Halifax squadron, under the gallant Captain Isaac Hull. Last week, Capt. Hull confronted British Capt. James M. Dacres, who was spoiling for a fight, as he came closer to a perceived victim. At 5 P.M. Dacres in non-naval terms showed his backside to Capt. Hull  and in response, Capt. Hull opened with a raking fire of some 700 pounds of metal which double-shotted guns delivered at a distance of half a pistol shot. Then the reeling Guerriere after several mutual collisions lost in the artillery duel her masts, most of her crew, and suffered severe damage to her hull after two broadsides were fired. These disabled two gun ports and left a large gaping hole in the side. The hull was literally broken into pieces. In thirty-five minutes, according to the official report, the enemy ship was out of action, and as it was in no condition to be taken as a prize, her crew was removed and the ship burned. The heavy construction of the Constitution caused the enemy’s cannon fire to bounce off as if from iron. We see the making of a good nickname here, “Old Ironsides.” Now it will be no longer necessary to keep the ships of our navy in port.

Capt. Hull is son of a Revolutionary War brigadier and the nephew of Michigan Territorial Governor-General William Hull of whom more later. He served on the Constitution from 1798-1802 and rose in rank to first lieutenant. He has served since on several ships, notably the President and the Chesapeake and returned to the Constitution some two years ago. Early this month he destroyed British merchant ships off the Gulf of the St. Lawrence and then went to cruise British islands off Bermuda. We now have an authentic naval hero, and those of us in the Carolinas who hale from Wilmington and the coastal areas may now feel more secure from the Prince Regent’s raiders.

A Series of Humiliating Defeats: Fort Michilimackinac Captured on July 17th

Captain Charles Roberts. British commander at Ft. St. Joseph, traveled some forty miles and  before dawn on July 17th and overpowered the 61 American soldiers at Ft. M. His force is reported as 45 regulars, 200 Canadian boatmen and 400 warriors. The fort was surrounded at dawn and the Red Savages fired into the air with hideous screams. The commander of the fort a Lieut. Porter Hanks was told the death of a single Indian warrior would mean death for himself and his 60 men. Hanks was unaware that war had been declared and in fear of a massacre by the savages, he surrendered. There were no casualties on either side, but the fur trade is now secure for the Brits and the passage between Lake Michigan into Lake Huron is closed. Even worse, this will win over more savages to the British plan for reconquest of the West.

Governor General William Hull Surrenders Detroit on August 16th

Needless to say, Captain Hull of the Constitution is nothing like his Uncle Will who has surrendered Detroit to a smaller British force after a disgraceful summer campaign into Canada. Detroit itself was prone to military disaster as there are normally 100 men at the fort and there are 10,000 Red Savages to 4700 Americans. Four-fifths of the population of Michigan are French-Canadians, who being French are inherently disloyal to both sides, but will side with the stronger in any case. Across the river are an equal number of British subjects who remember well the American Revolution where their fathers and uncles had their property stolen and they fled to Canada. Now their sons and grandsons are promised freedom by Revolutionary war leaders in the Second War with the British Empire. They did not welcome General Hull with open arms, but they welcomed him heavily armed and spoiling for a get-even fight. Even worse, any retreat to the south is across the 200 mile Black Swamp to settlements in Ohio.

The Campaign That Failed

The War Hawks had promised an easy conquest of Canada, a walk-over; well, General Brock has walked all over us. In the spring General Hull took his brilliant plan to Litttle Jimmy and friends; he would invade Canada through Detroit, not across Lake Champlain, and eventually reach Montreal. He would need only a small army and seize the British naval ships in  Canada on the Great Lakes. The vessels would be taken in their ports, and the war would be over at a minimal cost! There would no need to build a lake fleet. The enfeebled military mind of the President, thinking politics first and common sense later, agreed to three small armies to invade Canada and please everyone. The politically connected generals despite age, obesity, and incompetence would triumph. One army would cross over from Detroit, another at Niagara, and the third across Lake Champlain.

On May 25th, General Hull moved forward from central Ohio with 2000 men, even though war had not been declared, that was no concern. He had the blessing of the Commander-in-Chief Madison. The month of June was spent in exploring the Black Swamp. He had his men build a road from Urbana, Ohio to Detroit, and General Hull took copious amounts of alcohol to ward off fever, although it made his public speeches and orders somewhat difficult to comprehend. When sober, he looked every inch the soldier in resplendent uniforms. In only a little over a month he reached the Maumee River after a monumental six miles a day, and he sent his luggage on ahead by boat.  On July 5th he reached Detroit. His baggage did not, and the British at Amherstberg seized and enjoyed his letters which described the weaknesses of his forces and his arguments with everyone. Hull avoided the British fort and landed in some Detroit suburb named Sandwich, and the inhabitants promptly fled. He quickly proclaimed he came to free everyone from Britain, but any white man found fighting along side the Indian horde would not be taken alive. This meant all the Candian militiamen fighting with Britain would be executed because very unit had Red Indians among them. In one proclamation nearly every Canadian became a confirmed supporter of the British Empire. If only our leaders knew such simple ways to unify a nation.

Soon Hull’s  supply line from Ohio was interrupted by a seasoned warrior named Tecumseh. The Ohio soldiers had stopped with supply wagons some 35 miles distant from Hull’s Fort Detroit. First 150 and then 600 men were sent to break through to Ohio, and after limited success they fled back to Detroit. Next officers Lewis Cass and Duncan McArthur were sent out with 1600 men and could not locate the Ohio camp. They were hunkered down for a while and then ordered back. Then word came of the surrender of Fort Michilkimackinac and Gen. Hull collapsed. He saw massacres at any moment and fell into heavy drinking, according to reports.

Some weeks before, in the Niagara district many resisted the draft and attempted to flee from Canada to the United States. The watchword spreading fear was “Hull is coming!” Then Hull promised to protect the land rights of neutral Indians, and most abandoned the war. With all of this, how did he lose the campaign? With all this dissension General Isaac Brock decided to rally troops and attack Hull, despite the official policy of a defensive war. From York and Newark he found Loyalist volunteers and then he had the best of luck, our whiskey-tippling Hull allowed his troops to loot Canadian property. Next despite numerical superiority of two to one, Hull refused to attack. Then Hull retreated into Detroit and on August 13th General Brock was in Amherstburg. Brock had over 1900 men to Hull’s 2500 but these were Canadians fighting for their homes and safety from looters.

Two days later General Brock was across the river and firing into Detroit. Ther officer’s mess took a direct hit and Uncle Will Hull headed for a shelter and the comfort of his bottle. Then Gen. Brock used the Fort M. plan; surrender or face annihilation as the savage horde could not be contained. The next 1300 men under General Brock landed by Fort Detroit, Hull kept him men inside, and despite the advice of his officers as he had a fortified position and superior numbers, he surrendered despite their protests.

The British captured 2500 men, 33 cannon, some 35,000 pounds sterling in valuer of supplies, paroled in this disgraceful surrender and sent home were 500 Michigan militia and 1600 Ohio volunteers. The local units stayed on in the fort. Hull blamed all of his problems on a lack of reinforcements. There are claims that there was 5000 pounds of black powder in the fort as well. The cannon were symbolic as most had been taken from British forces in the Revolution over 30 years ago.  The word is that Ft. Dearborn was also ordered to surrender and we are attempting to find more details, but we can confirm this was done on Gen. Hull’s orders a few days before the surrender of Detroit.

Hopefully, things will improve on land as they are at sea. Next week we will describe events on the Niagara frontier.






The Continuation of The Baltimore Riots: July 28th and August 3rd

Posted By on August 6, 2012

Jacob Blacklidge, Special Correspondent

Our last posting was cut short by our printer, in a rush to fill the front page. Our story now continues. Mr. Hanson after being rescued by doctors from the jail, was carried on the back of a man to a garden and covered with a blanket. He lay there some time, but remained alert, though in great pain. He heard from this distance a disturbance in the jail not far away, and crawled by slow, painful movements to a safe place of refuge. From there he was taken from the city.

On August 3rd, he wrote a friend to explain that he had stayed in Baltimore in a besieged house to demonstrate that any citizen has the right to life and property, and the same should be protected by civil and military authorities. On this same day, the edition of his newspaper, the Federal Republican, with black borders and details of the riot and deaths from the week before, was mailed to his subscribers in Baltimore.

When the word spread that the newspapers had arrived at the Post Office, the Mob appeared and threatened to tear down the building. The Postmaster, an Old Style Federalist, sent an urgent message to the Man in the White House to defend Federal property. The message came back from Little Jimmy that he understood the Post Office was Federal property, but he did not feel in his role as Chief Executive and Commander in Chief that his sphere of authority allowed him to use defensive force to protect Federal property. This is from the author of the Bill of Rights!

The militia were then called out, but many objected to protecting Tory newspapers; Mayor Johnson, the large brewer, urged them to protect Federal property, but many said they had been called out to put down rebellion, and nothing looked more like rebellion than Mr. Hanson’s newspapers. The brave Mayor then promised the paper would never again be published or allowed in Baltimore, and he would draw his sword to prevent its reappearance. He then had a curfew imposed, and people went home.

Thus on August 3rd, a free press died in Baltimore. Where next will the Jeffersonians destroy freedom in the name of a war that calls for freedom of the seas but provides none at home? On what basis, given the timidity of the President, does he base his claim for a second term? We can only fear if he feels he cannot protect Federal property, what may happen if the British ever come to Washington? On that day when his sphere of power does not protect the city, we will all suffer from his weakness.

Baltimore Riots Resume in Support of Mr. Madison’s War: The Toll of Dead and Injured

Posted By on August 6, 2012

Washington, D.C., August 2, 1812, Jacob C. Blacklidge, Special Correspondent

We have just returned from another visit to Baltimore, against our better judgment, but required as we are working members of the Fourth Estate. While any journey to Baltimore will include the pleasure of seeing finished tobacco, wheat, and whiskey in great quantities, we came expressly to see the Jeffersonians in full riot, once again.

Since last month’s visit, the toughs have continued to run people out of town for not believing in General Washington as the patron saint of this nation and trampling those who are hoping the expedition to Quebec will fail. Ships possibly carrying British cargo were dismantled in the harbor, people of color were threatened because of possible pro-British sentiments, and of course black churches were on the verge of being torched, and the homes of free blacks have also been attacked and dismantled. We are told the rioters have been on the prowl for all of the past month, fueled by inexhaustible supplies of strong drink, which is as mother’s milk to the Irish and German population here.

Federalists are speaking of satanic influences conquering the state, particularly the merchant-politician, Senator Samuel Smith, but Jeffersonians believe they have found Satan’s minion, Alex.Hanson. Mr. Hanson in a mistaken trust in freedom of the press, had planned to have his newspaper printed in Georgetown and shipped to Baltimore.  Jacob Wagner his partner who fled this city and is now residing in Georgetown leased to Hanson his three story house in Baltimore and on July 25th, Hanson began talking to supporters from this haven. Many agreed to protect him, and General “Light-Horse” Harry Lee, in town to market his memoirs, agreed to be in charge of security.

On July 27th, the Sabbath, no less, the notorious Federal Republican resumed publication with the clearly printed address of No. 45 South Charles Street. An editorial denounced the excessive violence in the city and the attack a month ago on the newspaper as carried out by the Jeffersonian Republicans, the “remorseless rabble”. Their leadership included city and state officials who did nothing to curb violence. By that evening a mob assembled on South Charles Street; free speech and a free press existed for less than twelve hours in that city.

First the m0b rained stones on the Federalist “fortress”. Dr. Thadeus Gale, rated as insane by most and who lived nearby, led a mob to attack the house of Mr. Hanson. He strongly advocated lynching all his opponents, and as he and the mob pushed through the front door, he was fatally shot for his trouble. This lucky shot, alone, should be counted a blessing for the future peace of this city. Those retreating were saluted with buckshot to the backside by the “Tories”. There were more shots from the house and a rapid arming of the mob. The city officials and militia were as helpless as last month; they are not about to chastize the Republican voters in riot any more than was Robespierre in Paris some two decades ago.

Mayor Johnson, the brave brewer, had left the city for his country home, Brewmoor. Not far up Charles Street lives the brave commander of the city’s militia, General John Stricker, who was stricken with apathy when asked to strike back at lawlessness. The crowd had to file past his house, perhaps he hoped the opposition press would again be silenced and he continued the  peaceful sleep of the corrupt as was the sleeping mayor at his country estate. The General was asked by the poor widow who owned the Hanson house to save her property but General S___ said two city magistrates would have to sign an order to put down a civil disturbance, then he would have to find some militia; his subordinate Major Barney soon found about 30 barflies, who were not involved in a riot, and they purposely wasted some six-seven hours waiting for things to calm naturally and avoid injury to the famed militia of the city.

General John and the brave Barney at 3:00 started to do something, General S___’s line being, “I am no disperser of mobs.” Barney promised the mob he would arrest everyone in the Hanson house and this was met with three cheers. He continued that he was forced to be there and that he was a peace-keeper, but “You all know that I am of the same political sentiments with yourself.” Then he promised to arrest all lawbreakers which meant only Federalists, people who weren’t voting for him anyway.

Barney we are informed in running for a seat in the legislature, so by 4 A.M. he was deep into mediation. Meanwhile the good Jeffersonians brought a field-piece down the alley and aimed at the house. Then came into view the deranged editor of the Baltimore Sun , one Thomas Wilson, who was yelling, “Off with their heads!” This is further proof of the folly of mixing strong drink with French history; one becomes sure the Terror is still occurring, and the executioners are still guillotining the opposition. Brooking no interference from civil authorities, an unlikely event, he called for the death of everyone within. The brave Barney, however, would not let them fire the cannon.

By 6 A.M. everyone was awakening and a mob of 1500-2000 was making merry at dawn. Mayor Johnson and General S___ arrived on the scene. City officials asked the two dozen in the house to surrender and be taken into protective custody with all the might of local officials and the 30 man militia as protection, as they were only outnumbered some 50 to one. As an intelligent man, Hanson denounced this offer. There were no friends in front of this house; everyone outside was without doubt a bloodthirsty Jeffersonian.  We wonder what tree of liberty old Mr. Jefferson and little Mr. Madison felt was being watered here with American blood?

General Lee accepted the offer, and those inside agreed, Hanson did not, but went with the majority and with a protective cohort they were marched a mile to the county jail. The Jeffersonians were so off in their aim that only two people under safe-conduct were knocked senseless by cobblestones. The mob despite promises to be good ransacked the house on Charles Street, and then city officials decided to keep the prisoners without bail. The protective militia now numbered only fifty, but most of these were Federalists. General S___ gave them blank cartridges, just as well, for  the barflies of the morning would not die to protect Federalists and stayed home.

The Baltimore Whig, fully aware that bad news sells papers, came out with an afternoon edition and called for the demolishment of the garrison house on Charles Street and general massacre of the prisoners. Mayor Johnson’s response to this lively comment was a promise that no Federalist would be given bail or go free. The crowd seemed pleased and the militia was sent home. Dinnertime meant along with more heavy drinking by the Irish and Germans, that it was time to go to the county jail to torment the inmates. A leader of some local toughs, George Wooleslager, possible heir to the Wooleslager beer fortune, if such there is, brought along 30-40 of his best friends from a pleasantly situated slum called Fell’s Point. With fond words, they urged the mayor who had so often fed them, beer and bread sandwiches, to lead the assault and kill the prisoners, who had committed acts of murder.

As he puzzled over the politically astute choice too long, the Mayor and minions were pushed aside and the beer fortune heir and friends stormed the jail. In no time the door was forced, the cell opened, and the Federalists fell under the Wooleslager gang’s attack. The Federalists had doused the lights and half fled into the darkness to mingle with the crowd. The common line, “I just arrived, has the fun started?” might have worked had not a butcher been to spy out the jail in order to identify the prisoners at a future time. Nine were severely beaten over the next three hours, General Lee and Hanson were severely injured, three others were beaten and stabbed to death. Hot candle wax in the eyes and broomsticks down the throat were the common tools to separate the living from the dead. For moral support the women in the mob cheered on all by calling for more murder and bloodshed.  The elderly General James M. Lingan,a Revolutionary War veteran. was fatally injured and died within a few hours.

The rioters next were forced to consider all types of possibilities for the dead bodies, the river, the sewers, or donations to the medical school. Luckily Republican doctors took the living and the dead, we assume, back to the jail for medical attention. Local politicians ran for cover when asked to help transport the bodies, including a Congressman, McKim, a former brigadier, Tobias Stansbury, also the former Speaker of the House of Delegates. The injured survivors, numbering at least eleven, were spirited out of town.

The beauty of a riot is that in the darkness no one could be identified, and to this point, no one has been arrested. We could not have been happier to leave this city. If the enemy ever arrive in British-man-of-war ships, we only hope the brave Wooleslager’s of Baltimore will fight the enemy just half as fiercely as they fight their neighbors. Only time will tell.






John Randolph on Mr. Madison’s “Needless War”: Repeal of the British Orders in Council

Posted By on August 6, 2012

Washington, D.C., August 9, 1812, Jacob C. Blacklidge, Special Correspondent

We visited this past week with our friend, John Randolph, as he reflected on what he labels as “Mr. Madison’s Needless War”. He  says the most significant development in this impending conflict is the news that we relayed here to his estate at Roanoke, in Charlotte County, Virginia. These were copies of official dispatches that arrived at the capital on August 4th and announced the Repeal of Britain’s Orders in Council.

He  agreed to this question and answer session that covered a range of topics; we must caution our readers that some of his answers were lengthy, as we asked him to cover the last four years that have led to this war.

JB: Mr. Randolph, would you describe first something of your home here in Roanoke?

JR: I moved to Roanoke about two years ago from my home, I call Bizarre, which is about thirty or more miles north of here. I call this place “a savage solitude”. I have a young relation, Theodore Bland Dudley, who has been in medical school in Philadelphia and will return by next summer. He is the closest thing that I have to a son; I call him the son of my affections. I love to read politics and history, in my library at Bizarre, I have the Encyclopedia of Diderot and D’Alembert, Voltaire in seventy volumes, Hume in thirteen quartos, etc. as well as all of my personal writings, family papers, and correspondence. As I was a frail child, I read constantly, Shakespeare, The 1001 Nights, Smollett, Defoe, Swift; I would often say that I try to forget myself in books, but I now feel secluded and alone; I had thought that I would enjoy this remote area as a place of natural beauty, but I miss Richmond and Washington. My two closest friends with whom I keep up regular correspondence are Dr. John Brockenbrough, of the Bank of Virginia, and Francis S. Key of Washington.

JB: Would you describe your education and your interest in politics?

JR: I attended a grammar school in Orange County, Virginia under Mr. Walker Mauray, and when he moved his school to Williamsburg, my brother, Theodorick and I followed, I spent short time at Columbia College, and then after my mother’s untimely death, I was at Princeton, Theodorick, who was two years older, was more about fun than reading, and I followed his lead reading trashy fiction and ignoring my classes. My classical education ended before I was sixteen. I lament my ignorance to this day, as a connection of Edmund Randolph and as a member of his household, I saw General Washington in Philadelphia in 1790-91, even earlier while at Columbia College, I saw the First Congress assemble on March 18, 1789 in New York City and saw the inauguration of the General there on April 30, 1789. As Mr. Edmund Randolph was Attorney General, I had an insider’s look into the wheels of government. My own entry into politics was delayed by the untimely death of my brother Richard which made me the head of the family at age 22 in 1795; I took up my residence at his home Bizarre and only when the nieces and nephews were grown did I move here to Roanoke. The family seat is still at Bizarre with my library and personal papers.  In the winter of 1799 I stood for Congress for the Charlotte District. I have now been some thirteen years in the House and will have to stand next March for re-election.

JB: What is your reaction to the Repeal of the British Orders in Council?

JR: This was Clay, Calhoun, Grundy & Co.’s primary excuse for war. The 90 Day Embargo was due to end on July 4th, but it was never allowed to run its course; war was declared on June 18th. Had the embargo run its course there might have been an earlier repeal by Parliament. We are as well the victims of the dispatch services which take four-eight weeks for crucial messages to reach us from Europe. The repeal could have occurred before July 4th, and we would have avoided all our future problems this war will bring.

JB: Would you explain for our readers this rather complicated series of events?

JR: The British Orders in Council were invoked by the King in 1810, and they restricted any neutral traffic into ports of any nations and their colonies at war with Britain, which involved France and most of the rest of Europe. Any ship carrying goods purchased from Britain or her colonies could not deliver these goods to any port of on this restricted list. The attempt to deliver such goods would result in the seizure of the ship and its and contents to be sold as prizes of war.  For example, any ship approaching a French or Dutch port in the East Indies or West Indies was subject to seizure. Crews as well could spend the next two decades in the British navy. Napoleon had similar restrictions contained in the Berlin and Milan decrees. These decrees from the French did not make intention to deliver goods a crime, but delivery could mean seizure. The French revoked their decrees last year; the British denied that the French were abandoning these decrees and maintained the right, which cannot be found in international law, to continue to seize our ships and cargoes if destined anywhere but to the British Empire. That is why Mr. Madison on December 11th last, asked for a military response to defend our trade, and later an embargo as a last diplomatic move.

JB: Why were you so opposed to a military response?

JR: For two reasons; first there were inadequate appropriations for a navy, some seven ships to face the 700 the British have. Second, “free trade and free seas” may be a great builder of morale, but the plan of the War Party is to gain territory for the North, as eastern Canada would be taken and joined to the state of New York or, more likely, become six more northern states. These optimists I called the “first thaw fools”. They said Canada could be conquered this past spring before the first thaw. Without adequate provisions, our army is passing into Canada for an attack that may come any day. Canada is filled with Tories who fled our Revolution and lost all their property in the Northeast. None that I know of has asked to be liberated. Instead we will be liberated of our money, our state militias, and perhaps New England and the Gulf Coast will become new British colonies, and we have 13,000 men and seven ships to deny them these military victories. That is why I say this is an unnecessary war.

JB: Why have you split in the last four years from the Jeffersonians; were you not the floor leader in the House for Mr. Jefferson?

JR: I was and I trace the split to Mr. Jefferson’s manipulation of the electoral process. He brought forward from the House a weak man, Mr. Madison, to be his Secretary of State. Mr. Jefferson, as I am, is opposed to war except as a last necessity. His elevation of Mr. Madison to the premiership of the administration was a sure indicator to the congressional caucus of the party to nominate J. Madison in 1808. Without administrative, diplomatic, or military experience, beyond the local home guard, we were left with a brilliant but very hesitant constitutional lawyer, without any of the attributes of the first three Presidents. There was in Virginia a far superior man, Colonel James Monroe, whom a group of us promoted for the nomination. I tell you, sir, this nomination by congressional caucus is antiquated and undemocratic and will ruin our party. As might be expected, Colonel Monroe stepped aside for his long-time friend J. M. and has filled whatever position of trust Little Jimmy has asked him to fulfill. He is now on the path to the White House, but we must endure almost five more years of this baffled lawyer, J. M., who must yield to the war party to gain a second term. As was said of another married couple, in terms of the real world of society and politics, what Dolley Madison doesn’t know, the Madison’s don’t know.

JB: What have been the results of  your opposition?

JR: The Speaker, Mr. Clay has done everything possible to silence me; the entire war debate in both houses was behind closed doors. He has constantly turned the House into a committee of the whole, restricted discussion, and pushed through a war bill in four days in the House in June. The Senate took two weeks. I expect for my trouble to have the full weight of the administration thrown against me in my re-election campaign next March. By then, you may feel free to drop in at any time because I will be simply a tourist in Washington, not an office-holder.

JB: I hope you are returned to office and we are sampling next August the beef and ale in Crawford’s boarding house as we are accustomed to doing. For now, my sincere thanks for your time and hospitality. By the way, are there any fish here in the Roanoke River; do you mind if I try my luck?

JR: As in all things, my friend, be my guest.


The Baltimore Riots Resume: Freedom of Speech and the Press Are Extinct in Baltimore

Posted By on August 6, 2012

Washington, D. C. August 15, 1812, Jacob C. Blacklidge, Special Correspondent 

We had just returned from a few days in Roanoke with the Hon. John Randolph, and we would have said all the demons in Hell could not drive us to return to Hell’s Gate/aka Baltimore, but we must stay employed. In short, the riots have resumed after the injured and the perpetrators all took a breather for a week to lick their wounds. Now the Mob has resumed the bloodshed, arson, mayhem, and threats of murder that make Baltimore the most lawless and dangerous of any city  in the South. To visit there and publicly oppose this current war are to invite torture and death. Even the pirates of Tripoli were kinder to their captives than the Mob of Maryland’s foremost city.

We interviewed some three days ago Alex. C. Hanson along with eight friends at their place of refuge near Rockville, Maryland. They had on August 12th given a sworn deposition to a Justice of the Peace, one John Fleming, in that city. In this were the gruesome details of the events of July 27-28th that we have previously reported. We have read their deposition and will add further details to their story and then describe the renewed rioting on August 3rd. This happened when Mr. Hanson tried to distribute his Federalist newspaper through the United States Post Office in peaceful Baltimore.

We will now include a chronology of events to bring our readers up to the present. On June 22nd in Baltimore the newspaper office and all the printing apparatus of Mr. Hanson’s paper were destroyed; this was only four days after the declaration that began Mr. Madison’s War. This was done in full view of the Mayor, the Judge of the Criminal Court, and several other Magistrates and Police Officers. Mr. Hanson heard the news on the afternoon of the 23rd of June, and the next day went to Baltimore to plan to reopen his printing office; he walked around openly for several hours, but was warned he was a target for assassination, so he left the city as discretion is the better part of valor.

Over the next month he developed his plans to re-establish his newspaper; he had the advice of a circle of friends who promised to return with him, including General James M. Lingan, murdered on July 28th, and General Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee, who was to barely escape with his life, and John Howard Payne, a prominent writer. Mr. Hanson leased the rental house of his partner, Mr. Wagner, who knew his life was forfeit if he returned to Hell’s Gate. Mr. Hanson had the papers printed in Georgetown and planned to distribute them from this residence in Baltimore. This mere action resulted in a full scale attack on some 20 men by a mob of 1000-1500, who were the next day allowed to break into the jail, killing three and maiming six. No one has been convicted of any crime thus far; however, there is to be a grand jury investigation. There is not much hope of any punishment to come from this. This is due to the War Hawks’ invention of an 11th Commandment, “No [Jeffersonian] Republican shall speak ill of another Republican.”

There were those who told Mr. Hanson it was rash and imprudent to return to Baltimore. Where would we be if the same hesitant types of people had urged the Founding Fathers not to assemble in Philadelphia in 1776 or 1787? Mr. Hanson responded that there were constitutional rights at stake. Any U. S. citizen should expect that life and property should be protected by civil and military authority. When a mob appeared those in the Wagner/Hanson house told the Mob they were armed and planned to defend their property at the risk of their lives.

Boys and adults appeared, mostly Irish and German. They were soon delivered a wagon load of weapons. The siege of the house then went on for two hours, as all windows, sashes, and frames on the ground floor were destroyed with paving stones. The front door was barricaded with furniture and men were stationed on the stairway and at the windows to repel the attack. The civilian and military authorities refused to intervene. At this point about 11 P.M. came an attack led by Dr. Thadeus Gale, who had harangued the crowd with talk of murder and arson. He led the group and as they broke through the barricaded front door; men on the stairway and at the windows fired on the murderous, drunken horde. Dr. Gale fell fatally wounded, others were also wounded, and the mob temporarily dispersed with the fallen criminals.

At this point, Mr. Hanson was urged to flee the house to save his life. He decided to defend his castle; after long negotiations, Mayor Johnson and Brigadier-General Stricker offered them safe conduct to the county jail a mile away. Mr. Hanson asked first as to the reason for their being taken to jail when they were only defending their lives and property. Second he asked for horses, carriages, and the right to be armed. The Mayor and General consulted the Mob who would have none of this, so a dozen or so prisoners were escorted by 50 militia to the jail. The cowardly Mayor said Mr. Hanson had launched a civil war in Baltimore and blamed the brave men in the Hanson home for the murders as he called them, and not the Mob. He used the plural form because he expected more of the Mob, or more properly his Mob, to be killed.

Politicians corrupted by power have always feared a free press, and Brewer Johnson is no exception. Mr. Hanson refused to debate politics with a beer baron, but followed the will of the majority and agreed to be escorted to jail. Those in the Hanson house said later that they were exhausted and had insufficient food and water to hold out much longer. The siege had lasted nearly twelve hours and most had been awake more than 24 hours. There were as well two authentic heroes of the American Revolution among the prisoners; surely patriotism would transcend partisan politics and keep them all safe.

Later, it was discovered that the prisoners had left the house earlier than expected under escort to the County Jail. The Mob had planned to overpower the guard and make use of a large pile of paving stones to murder the prisoners on the street. At the jail, Major Barney made a survey of the group and told them they were safe. It later became known that at his elbow was a local butcher who was making mental note of the prisoners’ faces so they could be attacked later. The reason for this was that many were from out of town. The jailer both refused to lock the outer door or deliver the key to the prisoners. The front door was a formidable one with steel crosspieces and a metal grating.

Meanwhile, Major Barney and General Striker talked to the Mob who said they had only assembled in front of the jail to prevent the prisoners being given bail. The Mob then made a promise of good behavior, and the militia was discharged despite the strong objections of two officers. General Striker went home to bed. After this Major Barney indulged in further conversations with the Mob’s leaders; Mr. Hanson believes that even before the militia were dispersed, Major Barney had instructed the Mob as to the best method of assassination.

The question should be asked as to why, after the defense of the Hanson house in Charles Street made it clear that the civilian and military authorities were not to be trusted, did this group of men agree to be disarmed and taken to jail? Mr. Hanson said he would rather die fighting than be murdered in jail, but this was discounted as he was only 33 years of age. The fault lies with the too- trusting nature of General Lee, who in a mistaken belief in a code of chivalry, took the word of a fellow Revolutionary War veteran, General Striker, that they would all be safe under his protection and that of the militia.

After the terrifying assault on the jail began, the front door and back door of the jail were opened; perhaps says Mr. Hanson the jailer was compelled to open this door, but a voice very much like the jailer’s was heard to call out to the Mob, “Come around to the back door.” Some four or five of the prisoners were armed with pistols, but they were overwhelmed. The stabbings and beatings went on for more than three hours There were three dead, but about ten bodies were in a pile after being thrown down the stone steps of the jail, and the Mob debated throwing all into the sewer or the river. Mr. Hanson says he was conscious though in great pain through the entire ordeal. As the Mob debated the fate of the seriously wounded and dying, he felt that he had survived this only to thrown into the river to drown given his exhausted state and spinal injuries. This, however, was not to be, as two doctors soon intervened, to talk with the exhausted leaders of the Mob, and the Mob withdrew from the jail.

A respect for patriotism was not present in this crowd and when General Lingan identified himself as a soldier of the Revolution and bared his breast to the crowd, that only increased their anger and he was hideously tortured to death. As darkness came,  Mr. Hanson and General Lee were left for dead, but they were helped by two doctors who convinced the exhausted Mob to leave the jail. The mob believed there were no prisoners still alive, the six survivors had to feign death and ignore prodding with broom sticks and hot wax dripped on their faces. The Mob sought to both blind General Lee and cut off his nose. He was left severely wounded with a terrible gash on his face. A man carried Mr. Hanson from the jail to safety in a garden, and General Lee was taken out of town.

This story continues in my next article, which I now believe the printer has already published.


Josiah Quincy Author of Federalist Protest Against the War

Posted By on July 26, 2012

Washington, D.C. June 29, 1812, Jacob C. Blacklidge, Special Correspondent

The Federalist members of the House today signed an official protest against the war that they are calling Mr. Madison’s War. They have plans to circulate their document in pamphlet form. It will also be entered in the official Annals of Congress. The author has been identified as the Hon. Josiah Quincy of Massachusetts. Whatever the political sentiments of my readers, we will spare them the full 25 page document, which will no doubt be reprinted in full in many journals. Much of the ground was covered in the May speeches of our friend, John Randolph, and we, therefore, feel justified to include only the main points. The protest makes clear that this is divided country, but that the right of petition and protest is a scared right, regardless of partisan feelings. What is said here by the Federalists will indicate the points of contention in the election campaign for Mr. Madison’s second term.

In addition, we should none of us subscribe to the opinions of the Hon. Felix Grundy of Tennessee, who said on the floor of the House that once war was declared, you are either for this country or against it. Those are the sentiments of a Caesar or a Napoleon and have no place in the debates in the civilized forums of our democratic republic. He is a man whose opinions cannot stand the sunlight and fresh air of open meetings; he is secretive man and at the same time a foolish man if he thinks the public is uniformly happy with the manner is which this war was debated and declared. The Massachusetts State Senate dominated by the War Party has recently demanded that all debate on the war cease.These persons are all guilty of wishful thinking.

There are two essential points in the Federalist argument. First, the war was declared after secret sessions in which the arbitrary treatment by the majority made it impossible for the minority to offer motions or engage in any extended debate. War was voted by the House in less than a week, all in secret sessions. Second, grievances that were stated by the President in his message will not be solved by the type of war the majority has planned. A rush to war by a divided nation against a world power is a serious mistake.

The protest details first the parliamentary procedures, which included a novel use of the previous question to stifle debate. The minority were therefore restricted in any debate. The use of secret sessions was also a novel tactic as the only confidential document presented was the President’s message itself. There were no other confidential documents provided to the House.

Second is a review of the arguments of those who would rush toward war. This is a justifiable action say the War Hawks because of three things: impressment, the blockade, and Orders in Council.

First, the Federalist Party has opposed the restriction of trade through embargo acts as these have mainly hurt our trade. The peaceful settlement of disputes is a necessity for a young nation where states and regions have conflicting points of view. The disputes that have been mentioned will not be solved by a war any more than they have been solved by trade embargoes.

Impressment is an insult to our national honor. Great Britain is fighting for its very existence and is desperate to maintain its navy.  Many of the U. S. ships have only the captain as a U. S. citiizen. Whatever the situation, seizures of personnel from United States ships is deplorable, and should be resolved by diplomacy, not by war.

The blockade of American ships by Britain and France has been mainly in terms of European ports. Most recently it has been from Ostend to the Elbe. This also is not a sufficient cause for war.

The Orders in Council have been consistently mentioned as a cause for war with Britain. Many of these orders have been modified in our favor. The worst threat to our neutrality has come from France with the Milan Decree blocking all trade with British ports whether home ports or in British colonies. From a practical standpoint, France presents a greater threat to our trade than Britain. If there is to be a war, both have been guilty of deceit toward us. However, from a practical standpoint, our trade with Farance last year was some $6 million in exports, our export trade with Britain was $38 million.

War will only weaken our economy, and what has Canada done that we should attack her? Those who claim British agents in Canada have fomented frontier violence by savage Indians have given very little in the way of solid proof. We know that an expedition last fall went into Indian territory guaranteed to them by treaty rights, fought a pitched battle, and a number of lives were lost on both sides. Also claims have been made that there are new British muskets to be found everywhere on the frontier. If we are so aware of the acts of agresssion committed by England that a war is required for our national honor, what opiate are we using that we are asleep to the wrongs done to us by France? We do not intend to stay silent during Mr. Madison’s War, while our coasts are undefended and people talk of how easy it will be to conquer Canada.



Baltimore Riots in Support of Mr. Madison’s War

Posted By on July 6, 2012

Washington, D. C., June 27, 1812 Jacob C. Blacklidge, Special Correspondent

This reporter has just returned from a visit to a war zone, where riots abound and police and elected officials’ incompetence could be fairly  compared to Paris during the Terror. As the headline indicates, I had only to journey forty miles to Baltimore to see free speech and a free press under attack by inebriated Jeffersonian Republicans. Baltimore, always a city of haters, particularly of Britain, put on their worst manners and the great unwashed produced a nasty riot on June 22nd. While urban street violence,  particularly mob violence, always leaves one in doubt of the integrity of any city’s law enforcement capability, what makes this even more shocking is a newspaper office was attacked and destroyed by a pro-war Madison mob.

The mob’s target this time was the Federal Republican, an aggressively anti-war newspaper published by Alexander Contee Hanson and Jacob Wagner. The Richmond Enquirer routinely labels it as “anti-American”, and the Baltimore Whig as “indecent”. The paper, first started in 1808, had at that time opposed the embargo, and beginning this spring the war. On June 20th, two days after the war declaration, the newspaper came out squarely against the war and said it would fight against it with every constitutional means. Even more shocking was the claim that the people were about to be enslaved by dictators. We leave to the imagination of our readers how Clay and Calhoun might resemble Robespierre and Danton, and Madison as Marat, but imagination is a wonderful sharp tool.

Believing the worst of anyone who disagrees with them, the Baltimore Madison/Jeffersonians soon were inebriated and eager to snuff out freedom of the press. In their preparations, they spent a day in the beer gardens working up their Dutch courage as they drank their way through the toughest neighborhoods. Then Irish, German, and Americans having sworn their common alliance over strong drink and stirred on by a French apothecary, one Philip Lewis, the worst type of professional agitator, it would seem, all then headed in the cool of the evening for the newspaper office in Gay Street and pulled down the building and destroyed its contents.

One would think a city that breeds tough mobs would breed tough constables, but one would be mistaken. One constable said he didn’t like Wagner, and it would be a public service to lynch him. City officials smelling voters as well as sweat and beer looked the other way. However, Federalists found some and dragged them to the scene; they even found Mayor Edward Johnson, whose qualification for his job is that he is a Republican brewer.

The mayor, whose product had cheered and enlivened the festivities, did not want to doom the party and call out the militia; this would mean expense and time wasted for many citizen-soldiers, he thought, and so he tried to reason with the voters to ask them if they knew what they were doing. He probably also told them that violence never solved anything, discussed the quality of his brewery’s beer and ale, and then he ambled off, very amiably, to wherever brewers go to find solitude. Before his departure he met with the French apothecary who said this was a night when the law must sleep as it did for years in his homeland, and with the mayor’s silent blessing, he cheerfully led his group of vandals who equate Federalists with paid hirelings of King George.

Eyewitnesses said the mob pulled down the building as systematically as if they had been paid to do it. The whole process took some five or siux hours and must have been hot, thirsty work for all. Mr. Wagner had sensibly left town, as the mob found when they spoke politely to his family as they inquired for him at his residence. We did not catch a glimpse of Mr. Hanson around Gay Street.

Up to this point, the Jeffersonians of Baltimore are enjoying this war in an undefended coastal port city; estimates of the size of the mob run from 30 to several hundred. Personally, never having torn down a building by hand, I am unsure of the exact number needed, but be assured there were enough “toughs” in Baltimore to accomplish the job. I now think most of the crowd were simply sympathetic onlookers. We understand that Hanson and Wagner plan to continue publishing in the now-contested belief that a free press is part of our national heritage.

Mayor Johnson, we are happy to report, had another chance on the next night of June 23rd to again practice crowd control as a mob threatened a local citizen, Mr. Hutchins, who had spoken out against the war. The mob assembled outside the Hutchins’  home; the brewer/mayor talked reason to them and then walked them several blocks away. All too soon, another, much larger mob appeared, and the mayor and several gentlemen friends standing vigil were ready this time. When the mob demanded Hutchins, the mayor went inside, told the home-owner to run for it, slowly made his way back out front, and the Mayor then invited a committee from the crowd to view the Hutchins’ home, which was minus Hutchins. This caused the crowd to again disperse, but as the last were leaving, the rumor spread that some armed Federalist men were coming. This was risky; some of the mayor’s Federalist citizens still believed in the sanctity of property and were coming to support the mayor and/or Hutchins. Mayor Johnson “privately withdrew” and stopped three armed horsemen before the mob saw them. With the forces of law and order convinced that all was well, the mayor returned to the scene of his triumph, but he was most distressed by three people who had not voted for him, the armed Federalists. On this evening he had twice stopped a riot,something any politician may take pride in.

The Mayor’s last comment to those of us within hearing was that what this city needed was a parade. As a brewer he always thinks of recreational time and is also one of the elite here, and he promised more live theatre with a parade of the city’s finest elected officials and business men. This will happen soon, and the press, if true Madison/Jeffersonians, are all invited. Today, I made my way back to quiet Washington, and I find that I miss our own brand of live theatre, since Congress is not in session. I prefer after a vacation in Baltimore to see our people from Congress and boarding houses who fight only with words, give or take and occasional fistfight or duel among the distinguished upper classes.

War Declaration Signed Today: John C. Calhoun’s War Speech Was the Turning Point

Posted By on June 29, 2012

Washington, D. C. June 18, 1812, Jacob C. Blacklidge, Special Correspondent

The Senate today after a two week debate voted strictly along party lines to declare war on Britain. We now have the bill containing the Committee on Foreign Relations’ report to the closed door session of the House on June 3rd.  All the secrecy of the debates ended with President James Madison’s signature on the Declaration of War. The House passed the War Bill by a final vote of 79-49. The Senate voted strictly on party lines and voted 19-13 for war.

We will now chart the sequence that led to this day. On June 1st the President sent his war message to the Congress. The House met for some four days and the Senate for nearly a dozen days, before the Bill with amendments was returned to the House and approved today. The House took only two days to prepare a report from the Foreign Relations Committee.

On June 3rd the bill was presented on that day by Mr. Calhoun; there was an immediate attempt to stop the bill, and the House rejected this 76-45. Then as a Committee of the Whole, the bill was referred to the full House for a vote, where it passed on June 4 by 79-49. The Senate had amended the bill to specifiy war against “the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland and the Dependencies thereof.” Ireland had not been mentioned previously by name.

Mr. Calhoun’s bill authorized the President to employ the whole land and naval force of the United States as well as to issue Commissions or Letters of Marque to private armed vessels which could then attack “the Vessels, Goods and effects of the Government of Great Britain, of its subjects, and of all persons Inhabiting within any of its territories or possessions.”

The primary opposition in the House was led by Mr. Randolph who never was able to give his speech. In the Senate, Mr. German of New York and Mr. Bayard of Delaware opposed the bill in major speeches. Senator German said no competent Chief Executive would call for a war to conquer Canada, the obvious goal of this Administration, before making due preparations. Senator Bayard emphasized the lack of coastal defenses, particularly for the defense of New Orleans. The thirteen senators who voted against the war are both senators from Delaware and Rhode Island, and one each from Connecticut, New York, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Ohio.

Since Mr. Calhoun made the major war speech in his role as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee as appointed by the ultimate War Hawk, the Hon.Henry Clay, we believe our readers might find of great Mr. Calhoun’s reasoning.

1. The United States had long shown forbearance in the face of injuries by Britain. To continue this path would be to become a degraded nation. Thus, forbearance has ceased to be a virtue as there has been a period of seven years of repeated insults to our status as an independent nation.

2. Great Britain, for its part, has developed a mad ambition for the domination of the seas of the world. Their commercial avarice is boundless, and they have shown to the neutral nations “an unbounded and lawless tyranny.” The right of a neutral nation to trade in any port not blockaded, and to trade in any items except wartime contraband.

3. Attacks were also made against our commerce in 1793, which almost resulted in war. At that time there was an amiable accomodation and reparations for our losses.

4. In 1806 Britain enforced a blockade from the Elbe to Brest. By international law, such a blockade is acceptable only if it is universally applied to all, enemy and neutral fleets. The blockade is just off our coast.

5. By the use of impressment, American citizens are routinely snatched from American port cities as well as the High Seas.

6. The Committee did not have time to investigate whether the British have actively sounght to incite savage tribes on the frontier against American settlers. “It is known that symptoms of British hostility toward the United States have never failed to produce corresponding systems among the tribes. It is also well known that on all such occasions abundant supplies of the ordinary munitionsd of war have been afforded by the agents of British Commercial Companies, and even from British Garrisons, wherewith they were enabled,to commence that system of savage warfare on our frontiers whch has been at all times indiscriminate in its effect, on all ages, sexes, and conditions and so revolting to humanity.

7. The secret mission which had as its purpose to dismember our Union “affords full proof that there is no bound to the hostility of the British Government, toward the United States, no act, however unjustifiable, which it would not commit to accomplish their ruin.”


War Rumors Are True! A Summary of the War Declaration Printed Here!

Posted By on June 20, 2012

Washington, D.C., June 6, 1812, Jacob C. Blacklidge, Special Correspondent

The House has behind closed doors voted to declare war; the vote was strictly on party lines of roughly 80/40. Ther opposition is from the East and Northeast and is focused on the weak condition of our defensive navy. The bill has gone to the Senate, but nothing is officially being reported here. We anticipate a prolonged debate there, since the War Hawks are not as great a force there as in the House.

This correspondent has been given a copy today of President Madison’s secret War Declaration. This was sent to us anonymously by courier. Our source and six other members of Congress that we have consulted have been present at all of the closed-door debates that began June 1st. There is no doubt as to the authenticity of these documents.  These House members, who pride themselves on not being part of the War Hawks believe the Secret Sessions are simply a cover by the War Party to avoid an open debate. They are, to a man,  shocked by this rush to war, but they face a  majority that has recently produced a 67-49 vote as well as the Speaker’s power to overrule any meaningful debate.

The President’s Message states the following causes as a necessity for war:

1. British ships have ignored our neutrality and stopped American ships on the open seas.

2. The impressment of thousands of U. S. citizens taken as prisoners from American ships have robbed families of fathers and brothers.

3. British ships have hovered on our coast line and harassed our ships in violation of the peace and security of our cities.

4.Under pretended blockades our commerce has been plundered world wide because of our assertion as a neutral county of our right to freely trade even with the enemies of the British Empire.

5. We have been informed that we have the right to trade anywhere and only where Britain is also free to trade. We are restricted by what they label as “a trading with the enemy” policy, in total disregard of our own established neutrality.

6.Our commerce in to be sacrificed in the face of a British monopoly on trade.

7. Our embargoes as an attempt to protect our national integrity have been met with ridicule and the advice by Britain that a wiser course for this nation would be to go to war with France to protect our national sovereignty and the freedom of the seas.

8. Britain promised within the past year an adjustment of all problems, but that was to deflect our attention as they pursued a world-wide conflict with France, brought as close to us as the West Indies and our southern coasts, in particular New Orleans, which they covet.

9. Our efforts at moderation and conciliation have failed at every turn. We find that while we have been in a state of peace, Great Britain has been in a state of war against us.

10. As the Constitution wisely gives to the legislative department the power to reestablish our peace and security, I leave it to their decision as enlightened and patriotic councils as to the appropriate course of action.

11. I request that despite seizure of property by France, that any action be deferred as to that nation as discussions are now in place to remedy their use of privateers and public ships against our own neutral ships.

We hear that full diplomatic papers were presented to Congresson June 4th,  and we will inform our readers of the details as they become available. We will continue to shine the light of truth on both Mr. Madison and these dark closed sessions of Congress. There will be no War Hawks to pursue us with tomahawks or House Speakers to rule us out of order as we ask the question how prepared are we for this war you so ardently seek?

The House has now ended some four days of closed sessions with no official word of the content of the debate. The sessions began on Monday, June 1st when the Speaker, the Hon. Henry Clay opened a message from the President and decared it to be confidential. The House was immediately cleared of strangers and moved into a Secret Session. Today, the Speaker stated he had received correspondence from the Minister Plenipotentiary of Great Britain and the Secretary of State, Mr. Monroe, and the fourth Secret Session began.

The timing of the June 1st message from the President coincides exactly with the prediction made by the Hon John Randolph of Roanoke during the House debate on May 29th. He stated that he had information that the House would receive on Monday next a declaration of war message from the President. The Speaker, Mr.Clay, denied any knowledge of such a move by the Chief Executive as did Mr. Calhoun and others.

John Randolph of Roanoke Predicts War: Speaker Clay Prevents Debate on Anti-War Motion

Posted By on June 5, 2012

May 29, 1812, Washington, D.C., Jacob C. Blacklidge, Special Correspondent

Today in the House, the Hon. John Randolph of Roanoke predicted that by Monday next, a Declaration of War would be forthcoming from the Chief Executive. Any knowledge of this was denied by the War Hawks, led by Speaker Clay and the Hon. John C. Calhoun. Mr. Randolph at no time revealed his sources and was never able to bring his motion to the floor for debate. It was a rare event for this reporter to see Mr. Randolph outmaneuvered in a parliamentary debate. He and I and some of our Carolina/Virginia group who share a pleasant boarding house mess reviewed the day’s events. We met at our favorite public house and over a hearty meal supplemented by a newly-tapped keg of porter and later some excellent Madeira reviewed the day’s events. We will now listen to Mr. Randolph’s narrative:

“I was simply outgunned today in the House by that infernal combinati0n of Calhoun and Clay and 66 more willing souls who blocked my motion from being placed on the calendar. My mistake, as I now realize it to have been, was to review the events of the past several years, in an attempt to dissuade these young lions and hawks from a war declaration. I spoke too long and tired myself unnecessarily. My view as you may know was that France and Britain have both despoiled our ships and violated our freedom of the seas. but from the Congress to the Executive Mansion has there has been spread a pro-French bias. This could be fatal because its result has been to focus solely on Britain as the source of our problems. This has ranged from tales of the frontier wars to the impressment of thousands of American sailors, all said to be inspired by Britain. We have done so little to prepare for what will be a naval conflict that I fear for the safety of our entire coastline and even this city.

“I spoke for some time and a fellow member said I needed to provide a motion, as my subject for debate was not on any motion. Mr.Clay at first supported me, and then followed in rapid succession, a request that the motion be put in writing, that it be seconded, and then that the House must agree as to a time to take up debate on my motion. The Speaker’s decision that I appealed was the necessity of a written motion. On that I lost 67-49. Then on the question as to whether to debate the written motion that I said that I was compelled to write out, I lost by 72-37.

“Those who were not present and your readers may well ask to what strange concept or request some two-thirds of the House so rapidly rejected, and here is the motion: ‘My proposition is that it is not expedient at this time to resort to a war against Great Britain.” You may seek out the record of the names of the 72 War Hawks to see how rapidly the war sentiment is growing. For my part the demand for a written motion and the refusal to debate my motion are all very distressing. We are rapidly losing our right to preface any motion with remarks. The tyranny of the majority is now obvious. It would appear that we must have its permission to speak.

“I stand by my claim, there will a War Declaration from our timid Chief Executive by Monday and war within days. I will say that from any height along the coast, any look-out will see the world’s largest navy ready to target our port cities. I am at a loss to know what else to say to my fellow members of the House. Remember what Homer said about the crew of Odysseus and their leader; they always took leave of their senses and sought to start a fight with anyone, even a bloodthirsty giant; perhaps we will not exit the Cyclopes’ cave this time with most of our men. Not everyone is lucky enough to pick a fight with a giant and succeed. Giants are more experienced today and have better weapons, and the giants we face are not in some caves; they know the sea very well; it is the legacy of their father, perhaps they know more of strategy than our Odysseus of Clay. Since I may be at leisure from debate if I refrain from further motions; I think I will carry one of my favorite novels with me if I cannot take my hounds. Have all of you read Tom Jones? Several of the slippery characters resemble Mr. Clay; I am going to ponder which one while I read myself to sleep. Good evening to you all.”

Our group left, both entertained by our brilliant friend, but worried. It will not take long to test Mr. Randolph’s prediction; it reminds this reporter of a ticking clock. More to the point, a large bullfrog is appropriate choice of amphibian to croak, “Beware the First of June!”

I close for now with the last toast we made this evening, “Here’s to better days!”