Matters of the Militia
LET us remain in New England for a while. It is a strong land, strong peopled, strong principled; and for all the blood they have shed against each other, the South and New England hold much in common. The row houses of Beacon Street are brothers to those of King Street, and the many-steepled valleys of Vermont have their clean and quiet counterparts in the Great Smokies and the Shenandoah Valley. The Southerner, traveling in New England, often finds a spiritual kinship in the courtesy and reserve of the people he meets; and no less certainly does the advocate of States' rights, searching the history of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Vermont, find in their high-spirited past repeated expressions of New England's devotion to the responsible role assigned to the States.
The detested embargo was abandoned, we have noted, in March of 1809, only to give way to a non-intercourse act almost equally resented. In April of 1810, John Randolph of Roanoke described this proscription in characteristic language: "It has been reprobated and reviled by every man, of every political description, in this House and out of it, from one end of the country to another." Why, then was it kept on the books? "Is it a sort of scarecrow, set up to frighten the great belligerents of Europe? Or is it a toy, a rattle, a bare plaything, to amuse the great children of our political world?"38
Certainly New England was not amused. Her commerce still suffered, her ships still were idled. Worse yet, blundering British diplomacy (by which Madison first was encouraged to believe that Britain would suspend her restrictions on trade, only to be abruptly disabused of the thought) added to national feeling