Tuesday, May 30, 2017

War Hawks of 1812

(Cruising through Montana, stopped to gas up and saw this 51' Chevrolet.  Pretty Cool!)

 “The preset situation of the world is indeed without parallel, and that of our country full of difficulties.  The pressure of these, too, is the more severely felt because they have fallen upon us at a moment when the national prosperity being at a height more before attained, the contrast resulting from the charge has been rendered the ore striking.”  -James Madison in his first speech as president, March 4, 1809


With tensions at home and abroad rising, congressmen in the House of Representatives in favor of war were known as War Hawks.  These men were from the western and southern states, and held powerful positions in Congress.  Two leaders of this group were Speaker of the House Henry Clay of Kentucky and John C. Calhoun of South Carolina.  On June 18, 1812 Congress declared war on Great Britain.  
(For the life of me, I'm really trying to understand 'skull art,' I mean, 'Alas poor Yorick,' I get it but... )

 There were three main reasons for war:  First, to stop Great Britain’s interference with U.S. trade, and stop the imprisonment of American sailors and trading ships abroad.  Second, to stop British from encouraging Native people to attack new American settlements in the Northwest Territory.  Third, to remind Great Britain that American won its independence in 1783 and the right to defend her freedom.  The War Hawks felt the country’s pride was at stake and that war was also an opportunity for the country to gain land by (gasp!) invading Canada.
(After a quick pit stop we're back on the open road.  Look at that open sky.  We're loving you, Montana!)

John Quincy Adams wrote:  “In the Eastern-States the opposition to the war was market with virulent… in the Middle and Southern States, public opinion was divided, a large minority approved the measures adopted by Congress.  But in the West there was only one sentiment: love of country sparkled in every eye and animated every heart.”


The War Hawks also felt war was an opportunity to gain land.  Despite this, America was woefully underprepared.  The treasury had little money, the army had fewer than ten thousand troops, officers were scarce, and the navy had less than twenty ships available.  Nevertheless, many Americans believed victory would be easy.  I mean,  war hinged on our invasion of Canada after all.  There’s nothing so grandly foolish and spectacularly short-sighted … as American optimism!  God Bless It!

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