Poltroons and Patriots: A Popular Account of the War of 1812 - Vol. 1

Poltroons and Patriots: A Popular Account of the War of 1812 - Vol. 1

Poltroons and Patriots: A Popular Account of the War of 1812 - Vol. 1

Poltroons and Patriots: A Popular Account of the War of 1812 - Vol. 1

Excerpt

That the War of 1812 has in recent times received only rather minor and cursory study is both surprising and disappointing-surprising because that war was marked by the clash of vigorous personalities and filled with controversy and intrigue; disappointing because that dramatic war took place during and was the product of one of the great formative periods of our country's history.

The War of 1812 invites and deserves detailed analysis by those who would know how peace is broken.

Two nations drifted into war, neither desiring it. In Great Britain the common run of people were starved for want of flour, deprived of cotton, sugar, tobacco and other New World products; they were rioting because the restrictions on commerce closed the mills; they were drained of blood and money by the conflict against Napoleon. Certainly they had no cause for war against the United States and never truly understood why the fighting was necessary.

In America the Jefferson and Madison administrations made sincere and protracted efforts to avoid war. It has often been said that the American people were motivated by cupidity, by lust for more land and by undue jealousy of the British fur trade. These indictments are not borne out by a more careful study of the public opinion of the day. The majority of American people did not want to fight England. Nor were most Americans aroused by the battle cry "Free Trade and Sailors' Rights." That assertion of maritime independence was, in fact, shouted loudest in the inland sections.

The Americans did want peace and security along the frontier, and the peace was being broken. They did oppose disunion, and disunion was threatened. In both instances the danger appeared to come from British intriguing. Those who actually plotted war . . .

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