2
Mr. Madison’s War

James Madison’s talents generally dwarfed his defects. High intellect, a suave pen, political vision, and a warm personality marked his genius. As his second presidential term began in 1813, he trusted experience to guide him through the increasingly roiling waters of international trade. Experience, though, did not serve him well, and a rising specter of war dimmed his hopes for peace. Politics also narrowed his options.

Chill winds of change ushered in a new Congress in 1811. From the elections of 1810 came a young group of southern and western “War Hawks” who fulminated about impressment, Indian agitation, and other insults by Albion; they damned Jefferson’s and Madison’s failed diplomacy and demanded war against Britain. Westerner Henry Clay became Speaker of the House of Representatives, Peter Porter chaired the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and southerner Langdon Cheves took charge of the Ways and Means Committee. Famed South Carolina orator John C. Calhoun added orotundity to their attack on a “putrescent and ignominious peace.”

At first things seemed to be going Madison’s way. Most congressmen opposed war, but as the argument rose late in 1811 and continued into mid-1812 a subtle mind shift began. Madison himself, trying to fend off the War Hawks, clinging to a peace he had helped corrupt, offered to open

-11-

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How America Goes to War
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Preface xi
  • 1 - The Whiskey Rebellion 1
  • Edging toward Peace 7
  • 2 - Mr. Madison’s War 11
  • Evolution of an Army 17
  • 3 - The War with Mexico 21
  • Dangers Old and New 25
  • 4 - The Civil War 31
  • Last Days of the Old Army 39
  • 5 - The Spanish-American War 43
  • "Go Bind Your Sons to Exile" 47
  • 6 - The Great War 51
  • "In Patience to Abide" 57
  • 7 - The Second World War 63
  • The Truman Doctrine 71
  • 8 - Korea 75
  • "Peace Itself Is War in Masquerade." 83
  • 9 - Vietnam 89
  • "In Our Day Wars Are Not Won by Mere Enthusiasm, but by Technical Superiority." 97
  • 10 - The Cold War 99
  • "What a Beautiful Fix We Are in Now- Peace Has Been Declared." 107
  • 11 - New War, Old Cost 111
  • Insecure Security 119
  • 12 - The Fifth Horseman 127
  • "Ye Shall Hear of Wars and Rumors of Wars." 139
  • Afterword 141
  • Notes 145
  • Further Reading 149
  • Index 151
  • About the Author 157
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