The Sovereign States: Notes of a Citizen of Virginia

By James Jackson Kilpatrick | Go to book overview

conduct of the war, condemned the bill as "this horrible lottery"-- not only unconstitutional, but worse than unconstitutional: "'tis murder."45 But Congress did pass, however, a "Bill in regard to the Enlistment of Minors"; and Connecticut, in January, 1815, promptly undertook to nullify its provisions by adopting her own "Act to Secure the Rights of Parents, Masters and Guardians." The act required judges to release on habeas corpus all minors enlisted without the consent of their parents or guardians, and provided for fines and imprisonment against any person concerned in such enlistment who should remove any such minor out of the State.46 Massachusetts, the following month, enacted a similar law.


6
The Hartford Convention

WE MAY now profitably turn back to the strongly-worded resolution that Massachusetts had adopted in February of 1814. Should all else fail, the Legislators had said, and negotiations with Britain prove fruitless, a convention of the aggrieved New England States should be summoned.

All else did fail. The peace commission, in the spring, had nothing of a favorable nature to report. Meanwhile, the British, who earlier had capitalized upon Federalist sentiment in New England by leaving her ports relatively free of blockade, now began turning on pressure. During the summer, the blockade was extended, and coastal raids became a matter of increasing concern. In August came the capture of Washington, and near collapse of the national government. New England Federalists were not greatly concerned.47 But when British troops began to occupy parts of Maine and Massachusetts, New England States, which earlier had been so indifferent to needs of the United States Army, now cried out for Federal forces. When these were not promptly provided, the Legislatures turned to their own militia. Early in September,

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