DBQ Question
     For 22 years, the foreign policy of two Federalist presidents (Washington and Adams) and two Democratic-Republican Presidents (Jefferson and Madison) had continued to focus on a single aim--avoiding war with a European power while at the same time defending U.S. neutral rights at sea.
     Explain why the War of 1812 ended much as it had started--in stalemate. Include the immediate effects of the war in your answer.



Document A
     Over and above these unjust pretensions of the British Government, for many years past they have been in the practice of impressing our seamen, from merchant vessels; this unjust and lawless invasion of personal liberty, calls loudly for the interposition of this Government. My mind is irresistibly drawn to the West.
     It cannot be believed by any man who will reflect, that the savage tribes, uninfluenced by other Powers, would think of making war on the United States. They understand too well their own weakness, and our strength. In only one way; some powerful nation must have intrigued with them, and turned their peaceful disposition toward us into hostilities. Great Britain alone has intercourse with those Northern tribes; I therefore infer, that if British gold has not been employed, their baubles and trinkets, and the promise of support and a place of refuge if necessary, have had their effect.

Felix Grundy,
Speech in the U.S. House of Representatives
December 9, 1811



Document B
     Sir, if you go to war it will not be for the protection of, of defence of your maritime rights. Agrarian cupidity, not maritime right, urges the war. Ever since the report of the Committee on Foreign Relations came into the House, we have heard but one word-- like the whip-poor-will, but one eternal monotonous tone-- Canada! Canada! Canada!…It is to acquire a prepondering nothern influence, that you are the launch into war.

John Randolph,
Speech in the House of Representatives,
December 16, 1811



Document C
     British cruisers have been in the continued practice of violating the American flag on the great highway of nations, and of seizing and carrying off persons sailing under it, not in the exercise of a belligerent right founded on the law of nations against an enemy…
Against this crying enormity, which Great Britain would be so prompt to avenge if committed against herself, the United States have in vain exhausted remonstrances and expostulations…The communication passed without effect.
     To the most insulting pretensions they have added the most lawless proceedings in our very harbors, and have wantonly split American blood within the sanctuary of our territorial jurisdiction…
Such is the spectacle of injuries and indignities which have been heaped on our country, and such the crisis which its unexampled forbearance and conciliatory efforts have not been able to avert.

James Madison
War Message to Congress
June 1, 1812



Document D
     Before we take the step proposed by the bill before us [war], I think we ought also to make some calculation on the general state of the nation. Except some trifling Indian war, it will be recollected we have been twenty-nine years at peace, and have become a nation, in a great degree, of active moneymakers. We have lost much of the spirit of war and chivalry possessed by our Revolutionary fathers; and we are a people, also, not overfond of paying taxes to the extent of our ability; and this because our purses have been sweated down by our restrictive system till they have become light…
      I do not, Mr. President, draw all these discouraging pictures, or relate these lamentable facts, because I would shrink from the conflicts or terrors of war, for the defense of the rights of my injured country, sooner than any gentleman of this Senate, nor with a wish that all these evils may be realized; my object is to avert them from my country prematurely into war without any of the means of making the war terrible to ourselves, or at least to our merchants, our seaports, and cities.

Obadiah German, Speech
U.S. Senate:  June 13, 1812



Document E

Farewell, Peace! Another crisis Sons of Freedom! Brave
      descendants
Call us to "last appeal," From a race of heroes tried,
Made when monarchs and their vices To preserve our independence
Leave no argument but steel. Let all Europe be denied…
When injustice and oppression Come then, War! With hears elated
Dare avow the tyrant's plea. To thy standard we will fly;
Who would recommend submission?
Virtue bids us to be free…
States, united, ne'er can fall.

Joseph Hopskinson
Farewell Peace



Document F

O! say can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last      gleaming:
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the      perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly
    streaming,
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in
    air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still
    there:

And where is the band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country would leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps'
     pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave!

And this be our motto-- "In God is our trust!"
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Francis Scott Key
Star-Spangled Banner, 1814



Document G
     Be in enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America and Congress assembled. That no ship or vessel, owned in whole or part by a citizen or citizens of the United States, shall be permitted to clear out or depart from any port- or place within the limits of the United States or territories thereof to any foreign port or place, till the owner or owners, agent, or factor, freighter, master or commander shall have given bond, with sufficient security, in the amount of such ship or vessel and cargo, not to proceed to or trade with the enemies of the United States. And if any ship or vessel…stroll depart from any port or place within the limits of the United States or territories thereof…such ship or vessel, and cargo, shall be forfeited to the use of the United States; and…shall severally forfeit and pay a sum equal to the value of such ship or vessel and cargo.

Approved by Congress: July 6, 1812



Document H
     Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that, during the present war with Britain, it shall be lawful for any person or persons to burn, sink, or destroy, any British armed vessel of war, except vessels coming as cartels or flags of truce; and for that purpose to use torpedoes, submarine instruments, or any other destructive machine whatever: and a bounty of one half the value of the armed vessels so burnt, sunk, or destroyed, and also one half the value of her guns, cargo, tackle, and apparel, shall be paid out of the treasury of the United States to such a person or persons who shall effect the same, otherwise than by the armed or commissioned vessels of the United States.

Approved by Congress: March 3, 1813

 

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