tv American History TV CSPAN September 13, 2014 1:10pm-2:01pm EDT
2015, and winners will be announced in march. visit studentcam.org for more information on this year's contest, the three branches and you. americanday here on history tv, we take you live to fort mchenry in baltimore for a ceremony commemorating the 200th anniversary of the star-spangled banner. it will include remarks by former secretary of state colin powell. a largescott key saw american flag hoisted above the fort. he composed what would later become the u.s. national anthem. 200 years ago this august during the year of 1812, british soldiers invaded washington, d.c., and set fire to the white house and u.s. capitol building. president james madison and dolly madison fled the city. a donald hickey, author of "the war of 1812: a forgotten conflict." he spoke looking back.
the white house historical association and mount pelee or hosted this event -- mount pelier hosted this event. >> he was called the dean of 1812 scholarship by the new yorker. he has written seven books on the conflict, most notably, the war of 1812, a forgotten conflict, available in a bicentennial edition. his book on andrew jackson and the battle of new orleans is forthcoming from johns hopkins university press. editor of ackey is fine series of monographs. we welcome professor don hickey. [applause]
>> thanks for that introduction. about thed to talk politics of the war of 1812. you should have a handout in your folder with a little thatne and a few books will provide additional information if you would like to read a little bit more on this. presentation an act of inconceivable folly and desperation. american politics and the war of 1812. this is part of a quote from the massachusetts house of representatives in a report adopted a little more than a week after the declaration of war. it called the declaration of war act of inconceivable folly and desperation that was hostile to your interests, menacing to your liberties, and revolting to your feelings.
this was indicative of the deep opposition of the war by the opposition party, the federalist party, which controlled the house of representatives in massachusetts. want to talkis, i about the origins of american political parties. the first two-party system emerged in the early 1790's and it was really in spite of, rather than because of, anybody's wishes. americans at the time considered political parties, political factions dysfunctional. the european record seemed to be that factions led to civil war, so no one really favored the development of american political parties, but they emerged anyway. the initial division was over hamilton's financial program. that division widened after the french revolution went into its
more radical stage in 1793, '94 '95, and i think the parties were pretty well solidified by the time the united states ratified the jay treaty with great britain in 1795. the federalists reluctantly supported that treaty, the emerging democratic republicans who were deadset against it. those party divisions deepened still more during our undeclared naval war with france in the late 1790's, which was a byproduct of the jay treaty one , of the down sides, though we did pretty well -- that's truly a forgotten conflict. we call it the quasi war, and most of our students say, i've never heard of that. does it have two legs or four?
they were able to implement their policies. i would say their domestic policies essentially arrested on hamilton's financial program and commitment to military and naval preparedness. in foreign affairs they're usually protrayed as the pro-british party, but i think they're more accurately described as the anti-french party. i think that's what drove it, a fear and hostility to france the -- france, and they reluctantly negotiated and ratified the jay treaty, and later got involved in the quasi war. i think those were probably anti-french as much as they were pro-british policies. in any case the jeffersonian , republicans took over as a result of the election. in so far as they could, they reversed those policies. they rejected military and naval preparedness. thehy pared back defense
spending. they modified hamilton's financial programs. they also moved away from a close relationship with great britain, which it really developed during the quasi war. when the commercial clauses of the jay treaty expired in 1803, the british asked if we were interested in renewing them and the jeffersonian administration said absolutely not. later, when jefferson was sort of compelled to send a diplomatic mission to london to try to solve all of our outstanding differences, and the result was the monroe treaty he , refused to submit that treaty to the senate. that was further followed by -- largely over maritime issues, the british practice of impressment, which was removing seamen from american merchant vessels on the high seas, and the british odds which restricted our trade with the count nent the europe, between
1807 and 1812. the republicans responded to this, first by adopting a series of trade restrictions, most notably jefferson's notorious embargo, which was in force for to march ofom 1807 1809, and then in june of 1812, by going to war against great britain. the vote on the declaration of war in june of 1812 was the closest vote on any such declaration in american history. the vote on the declaration of war in june of 1812 was the closest vote on any such declaration in american history. we've had 11 declarations of war, but only five wars. the war of 1812, mexican, spanish-american and the two world wars, but there were multiple declarations, and we haven't had a formal declaration of war since 1942.
we just don't do it that way nowadays. rather, congress authorizes it is president to take action, and then he does if and when he thinks it's necessary. anyway, the vote on the declaration of war in 1812 was 79-49 in the house of representatives, and 19-13 in the senate. now, there was actually a closer vote in the senate on the declaration of war against spain in 1898, but this is the closest vote on any declaration of war. all the others except for the spanish-american war were overwhelming, if not unanimous, so this represents an exception here. now typically the declaration of war, the vote on the declaration of war is portrayed as a sectional vote, because so many northern members of congress voted against it and so many southerners and westerners voted for it, but that really masked
what i think is the true nature of this vote. it was a party vote. 80% of the jeffersonian republicans in congress voted for the declaration of war, and every single federalist, without exception, voted against it. so it looks to me look it's more of a party vote. now, to a large extent, deep-seeded policy issues, a policy differences explain this vote. the jeffersonian republicans were convinced we had reached a position in our history where our sovereignty was at risk. we only had three ways of responding to the british encroachments on our rights -- war, more trade restrictions, or what the republicans called submission. the federalists, however, thought there was a fourth alternative, accommodation. the conditioned of thing they had accepted in the jay treaty, and the kind of thing that jefferson had rejected in the 1806 treaty.
we call that monroe pink any treaty, the treaty he refused to submit -- so there were deep-seated policy issues over how to respond to this crisis in anglo-american affairs, the jeffersonian republicans concluded we need to do go to war. the federalists thought war was unlikely to achieve any concessions on the mare typhoon issues, and they were proven right, and we are better on the striking the best deal we could with the british through some sort of accommodation. now, there was also a political dimension to the declaration of war. republicans embraced the declaration of war in part because they thought it would further the interest of their party. it would unify their party, which was rent asunder by internal divisions.
they thought it would enhance the winning of the next election, and they thought it would silence that you are domestic opponent, not simply republicans, but also federalists. so they expected to achieve some very real political objectives with the declaration of war. now, the federalists opposed the war primarily for policy reasons, but they too thought they would achieve certainly political objectives, that the war would not work out and they would finally be restored to power that they had lost in the election of 1800, but at bottom, i think you have to see the vote on the declaration of war is really a vote on a matter of policy. once war was declared, there are some exceptions. the old republicans under john randolph in virginia continued to oppose the war.
they remain divided on how -- should we concentrate on fighting the war on the high seas, or in canada. should we adopt taxes or rely heavily on treasury notes. and national loans? madison administration was really unable to overcome some of these -- i do not consider sxrams madison a strong war leader. the up side is he didn't encroach on the civil liberties, didn't use the hammer on them. there are actually republicans, including the attorney general who said we need a sedition act.
it worked for the federalists in 1798. madison would not consider that. that was the up side his sort of mild presidential leadership during the war. the down side is he simply wasn't able to force a majority in favor of his preferred means of prosecuting this war. time and time again he made recommendations to congress, which congress did not accept. a federalist could combine with disi dent republicans to vote down policies that they considered ill-advised. madison also tolerated dissent in his cabinet, disloyalty, dissent, back-biting, a lot of internal dissension there madison sort of ignored it. so for a variety of reasons, even though they closed ranks in support of the war, they frequently were divided over how
past to prosecute the war and how to pay for it. there was initially some talk among federalists in the middle and southern states about maybe supporting the war, at least remaining neutral. but for a variety of reasons that talk didn't go anywhere. the federalists were unhappy that france wasn't included in the declaration of war. they weren't -- they weren't happy with that decision. they weren't happy with the decision to force the commercial states to pay for the war by doublingle taxes on trade without adopting any internal taxes, and they weren't happy with the decision to retain the latest trade restriction, which remained on the books, even though the restrictive system had always been presented to the american people as an alternative to war, it wasn't dropped after war was declared, and the southern and middle
federalists were not happy with a series of vicious riots that took place in baltimore, which led to the immediate death of one federalist, and what i consider fatal -- ultimately fatal internal injuries to two other federalists including lighthorse harry lee, who was the father of robert e. lee. so the upshot was federalists in the midland and -- who might have considered being will be rat lined up with their more ardent friends in new england. you can see this in congress. they voted against -- or restrict trade. they did, however support two long-term defense measures they thought would be in the interest -- they voted as a
bloc. there are 305 votes in congress. a cohesion index. in the house of representatives, it was 94.4%. in the senate, it was 92.5%. so on the typical war issue, you have more than 9 out of 10 federalists voting on the same side. typically against the issue, though if it dealt with the navy and coastal fortifications, they voted for it. my point here is the federalist party presented a united front
against the war, first the declaration, and then measures adopted by congress to prosecute the war. the notion that the opposition was limited to new england or that federalists in the midland and southern states did not oppose the war is a myth. i think the voting patterns in congress reveal that. now, this is not to deny that new england's oop position went further. federalists in new england felt more deeply about they issue it is, also had the advantage of controlling state and local government there. so that allowed them to use the machinery of state and local government to obstruct the war effort. because they were a majority, they didn't have to fear retaliation, it is el the sort of retaliation that was visited on baltimore federalists when they opposed the war in june and july of 1812. so we find federalists in new england using the machinery of government to in some minor ways
obstruct the war effort. we also find that they feuded with the federal government over the deployment and command of the militia. the initial fear of new england federalists was that the militia would be naturalized and marched to the canadian frontier, forcen new englanders to take part in this wicked attempt to conquer canada and leave new england defenseless. they were reluctant to give -- they worked out a series of compromises in 1813 and -- especially in 1814 when the british actually threatened the new england coast, but the compromises broke down in the fall of 1814, and the u.s. government simply announced it would no longer pay the wages or supply the militia in those new england states that did not allow regular army officers to command the troops. so new englanders found
themselves saddled with their own defense costs late in the war. that was one of the key things that led to the decision to summon the hartford convention. that was a regional conference convened in late 1814 to air new england long-term grievances, but more immediately grievances over the war of 1812. it is sometimes depicted as part of a scheme to pull new england out of the union, but this overstates i think secession sentiment in new england. in new england during the war of 1812, there was talk of withdrawing from the union. there was secession sentiment, but there was no serious secession cysel secessionist movement. you can see it was really confide moderate. fully half of that report was to
airing grievances over the war, particularly the fact that new england now had to provide and finance its own defense measures. so a pretty moderate document. i don't really see a hint of secession in that document. now, the hartford convention did propose a series of amendments to the constitution designed to protect new england's interest in the future and prevent agmh recurrence of those policies of the republicans that the federalists thought were soñr utterly destructive to new england and the nation. for example, in the future it would require a two thirds vote to embargo our trade or to declare a war. and in fact, embargoes i think would be limited to 60 days. admitting new states to the union from the west would require a two thirds vote in congress. the whole point was to protect new england's position in the union and also a recurrence of the most destructive of the
republican policies. nothing came of those amendments. the war ended shortly thereafter, and in fact the hartford convention was used tlafr by republicatlafr by repu the post-war -- the republicans, after the war was over, what happened here in washington was the low point for americans in the war, but fortunately for the american memory, it was followed first by the successful defense of ft. mchenry, almost simultaneously a victory or lake champlain, and then, of course, in january of 1815 by jackson's lopsided victory over the british at new orleans, when we actually were fighting veterans of the napoleonic wars. i think that was the only battle where that happened. that allowed americans
afterwards to say we have single handedly defeated the conquerer of napoleon and the mistress of the seas. they talked about repeatedly how they defeated wellton's invincibles. it has a nice ring. the british beat the french, and we beat the british, at least at new orleans. that turned out to be the real significance of the battle of new orleans. it didn't have any impact on the outcome of the war or the peace treaty, but it did help in a if% profound and lasting way, shape the american memory of the war, so in the way of that, republicans claimed and you have victories in the war and blamed all failures and all the worked pretty effectively. federalist party pretty quickly disappeared after the war of 1812. i think they lan their last candidate for the presidency in
1816. he got swamped. this was a party that was out of tune with the dominant ethos of the american people anyway. it was a party too aristocratic, too pro-british, too hostile to expansion to survive. what revived it was the restrictive system. and you look at how federalists did during the war of 1812. at election time they actually did pretty well. the number of states they controlled in the course of the war, increased out of the 18 from 3 to 7. and there was an up tick in their support -- in their numbers in congress. not a big increase, but a 5% or 10% increase in the number of federalists who sat in the house or the senate. so one can argue that opposing the war of 1812 worked to the interests of the federalists
during the war, but most assurededly did not after the war was over. it was too easy to portray them as disloyal as torries p. the really bad thing you could call someone in those days, or traitors. now, by way of conclusion, you said to make two broad points about this period and about federalist opposition to the war of 1812. you look at the early national period, and party differences were deep and bitter. i think they were deepest during the quasi war, and during the period of the restrictive system. these were deep-seeded that
in my judgment this was the most vigorous party opposition to any war in our history. i would thereof put it at one of perspective. at the other end, we have world war ii, when there was no serious party opposition. in fact very little opposition at all. that's at the other end of the spectrum where morse americans rallied around the flag. we may find it comforting to think that the american norm is world war ii, but it ain't so. most wars are a lot closer to 9 war of 1812 than they are to world war ii.
there was significant opposition to the american revolution, the mexican war, the war in vietnam, and just about every other war we have fought since vietnam. there was some opposition to the spanish-american war to world war i, and to the korean war. it looks to me like the exception in the history isn't the war of 182 or the war in vietnam. the exception is world war ii. my take is that this is simply the price we pay for democracy, that if we're going to go to war, we should expect opposition, and if that war drags out, that opposition will only increase. that, my friends, is the price we pay to being a democratic republic. okay. thank you. i think we have q&a now.
now, this is my opportunity to learn from you. i always like the q&a part of any presentation, because you guys get to tell me where i got it wrong, and i can learn from you. yes, sir? >> the fall offal federalist party is the only other example of the demise of the american is the when is at the eve of the civil war. one theory is that jefferson's genius consistent on incorporating into the federal system those that nascent anti-federalist feeling and giving it expression within the context of federalists. would you gra el with that or not? >> generally. the point this gentleman is making is the only two major
parties to disappear from american history -- and i don't think that's quite right, but let's say it is -- the federalist and the whenig party and it is because the dom nan party bakley coopts the bask issues. my take is political parties enjoy popularity, because they offer something of fundamental important to the american voter. the classic example is the republican party of the 1850s. they got ahold of the issue of antislavery, and that resonated with people, at least in the north of the united states. they were the dominant party roughly in 1860 to 1932, but what happens is a political party comes into power offering a program that is very attractive to the american people, but that program is then enacted into law, and as the years pass, that party finds itself on the wrong end of a big issue. for the federalists in the 1790s
they were charged with launching the new government under the constitution, they did a great job of that, but by the late 1790s, their program was in place, at least most of it, and they had outlived their usefulness, and they were on the wrong side of these big issues, the rise of democracy, territorial expansion, and our position in the great european war. and i think the same thing happened to the jeffersonian republicans. they're at the cutting edge, but by the 1850s, they're on the wrong side of some really big issues, namely the preservation of the union and slavery. it seems to me that's the pattern that i see in american history of the rise and fall of political parties. okay? did the federalists have a coherent strategy for dealing with the violation of american
trade neutrality for the indian attacks on the settlers moving into ohio, in indiana? did they have a clear alternative to war with great britain? and did they press that throughout the war? >> did the federalists have a clear alternative to war? they did, and i don't get this. you look at the literature on the run up to the war, and a lot of historians say the federalists had no alternative. i've got a hot flash for those guys. their alternative was no war. peace. okay? that's a viable alternative not going to war. now, did they have an alternative for forcing the british to give up our encroachment -- their encroachments on our rights? no, they did not, but their argument, and i think it was sound, is these encroachments were tied to the warp in europe. the british had no fundamental interest in encroaching on our rights.
they were trying to win a war in europe. if they encroach on our rites, it was because they felt those policies were necessary to winning that much greater war in europe. they were actually surprised and a little hurt that we went to war over these issues, because they felt they are fighting the what are for western civilization, and we were -- i think the federalist argument was, look, we're making money and these encroachments aren't going to last forever. they are the price we pay for profiting by trading in a war-torn world. those encroachments on our rights will end when the war in europe ends. and there's nothing we can do to force the british to give up those encroachments. i think the treaty of gent vin cath indicated that the violations of -- abuses of naval
black ades, definition of contraba contraband, those issues were not issued in the treaty of gent. the argument sometimes given is, well, that's because the issues went away with the end of the war in europe. that's true, and i think that was the federalist argument. but there was nothing in the treat doctor of gent which would have prevented the british from resorting to those policies again in the war in europe resumed. it did not, so they did not, although some of those same issued surfaces again in world war i. there's a guy named earnest may who has written a book on our neutrality period, and he talks about the tension between the united states and great britain. that chapter is entitled, i think the shadow of 1812. so that was a federalist alternative. look, we've just got to live with these encroachments, we're doing okay, and this is the nature of what second-rate powers have to do in a war-torn
world. the great powers, if they're locked in a titanic struggle, a life-and-death struggle, they will not make concessions if they think it's going to undermine their war effort. they're just not going to do it. so have at it. i think the problem here is that jeffersonian republicans did not fully understand that we were a second-rate power. there's a great quote at the beginning of the war in which he talks about we have considered ourselves of two great a weight in the scale of nations and assumed we could control things that really were beyond our control.
yesterday david cameron announced a multimillion pound contract for vehicles for the british army. the headline is 800 jobs. whenever you see money being allocated, a brac here or moving a carrier, it's jobs that everyone is looking at. building a 44-gun frigate that takes -- both of them were probably built an boston or philadelphia. in supporting the war, in particular the naval war, did jobs ever come into any of the equation in 1812, or looking longer through american history, when does jobs become an issue of national policy?
>> when did jobs start running our defense policy? >> yes. >> not during this war. i don't see any evidence that federalists said we've got to support expanding the navy, because that will be jobs in our commercial ports where we are often in a majority. i have not seen a hint of that. this is a rare war in that we really did bad -- sometimes we do very well during a war. i think it's more typical that the massive spending and the employment -- world war ii being the best case probably generates economic activity, but not in this war. that's largely as andrew lambert will be happy to remind us, because of the overwhelming power of the british navy, which established a blockade of the coast of the united states, and that would a devastating impact
on the u.s. economy. not only virtually cut off all of our foreign trade, but even much of the coasting trade, and a lot of goods and commodities were moved up and down the coast. it was also easier to move things in those days by water. it also had, by the way, an impact on american public financing. the government didn't have enough money, so what happened in november of 1814, the united states government, for for the only time in our history since hamilton put our financial house in order, defaulted on the national debt. it could not make the payments on the interest due in new england in gold and silver coin, as was required by law. now, one of the ironies of this is our overseas bondholders got paid because our international banker was the house of bering in england. even though it was a british
banker, they fronted us the money to pay or bondholders in europe, a reflection in those days of sort of the notion that the war was still to some extent the king's business, and not the concern of private citizens or private companies. the british government, as i understand it, understood bering and brothers were doing that and did not object okay. what else? you tack about madison, pendleton and some of the personalities? >> some of the personalities. well, madison, the guy was a great statesman but really more comfortable crafting legal treatieses, and you look at those documents he produced it,
as jefferson's secretary of state. these are wonderful works of legal scholarship, but i don't think he was particularly well suited to be a commander in chief in time of war. he just -- and the republicans, you look at what they were saying. they're saying, this guy, he's too nice of a guy. he's too mild-mannered. that was a fairly commonly said by republicans privately to one another, and you can see it in the correspondence. >> at one of the birthday celebration at montpelier said they have a special place, because he founded the united states marines. i hadn't heard that before, and he said we've always been in charge of the ceremonies, and we always hope we will be. and he said he was our founder. >> madison founded the u.s. marines. that's news to me.
>> that was at the 200th anniversary. >> we've got to have a marine who knows who is responsible for the legislation in 1776. who's credited with that? >> i'm sorry, what -- >> who's credited in 1776 with founding the marine corps? >> tom's tavern. >> who was the driving force in the continental congress? >> i guess -- i guesssh. >> did it have to do with his declaration against piracy? >> well, you've got me. i don't see madison having a significant role there. now, interestingly enough when the british purpose washington, "time" magazine ran a piece, and it its online verse on the anniversary about a week or so ago. they had titled it why americans
celebrate the burning of washington? i wrote the piece for them, and i had, celebrate? what are you talking about? maybe commemorate or remember. when the british burned the public buildings of washington, they mished the marine corps barracks. the myth group up because the british really respect the u.s. marines. nah, nice try. they put up a fight at bladensburg. they were part of a barney's -- the only troops that put up a decent fight before the british overran them and then occupied the city, but the british i think did not know this was the marine corps barracks. >> who is edmund pendleton? >> i don't know what he was doing. >> he already --
>> john sagg says he's dead. >> i'll take that from john. what else? yes, sir. >> we've been learning much more these last few weeks as the war of 1812 is in the national public eye. and we talk about how the navy -- the u.s. navy came out of the war of 1812 was a much more clear picture of what they needed for a national defense, and also the need for the united states to have a standing army, not to rely solely on a militia called up on a time of need. so if the war of 1812 had never happened, can you give us kind of a picture of our own self as we approach the time period where we went to our own civil war? if we had not had these national defense teams in place, maybe
how that might have played out? >> well, i try to avoid questions that deal with what didn't happen rather than what did. this is counter-factual history and it's great fun if you're at a war college or staff college. i'm a historian, i prefer to deal with what did happen. here's my take on this. we typically dismiss the war of 1812 as a small and by my ard is it had a prooff and on and lasting legacy. part of that legacy is it stimulated defense enough it needed a defense tans, that after the war was -- committed to maintains a small regular army, and somewhat larger navy. the navy was really the biggest winner there.
the irony of this is we had had a number of successful naval engagement on the high seas, especially at the beginning of the war, but they had absolutely no impact on the course of the war. the "uss constitution" wanted to nicknamed it old ironsides, probably to this day is the most famous ship in the u.s. navy. it's once again a committed minneapolis in the u.s. navy, has been since around 1940, so we did commit to maintaining a small army and medium-sized navy. that was one of the buy products of the war of 1812. the other sort of military legacy was both service emerged from the war with a greater commitment to professionalism. now, i think the navy was already a fairly professional service, but it was even more so after the war was over and congress created the board of naval commissioner at the tail end of the war to ensure that.
the modern army was born on the niagara frontier in 1814, and it became an evermore professional service thereafter, because westpoint was feeding into the service these professionally trained officers. andrew jackson remained in the army as one two leading commanders until 1821 and undoubtedly the outstanding commander in the war of 1812, no question, but hi represented the past and not the future. the amount tour, the part time soldier, the guy who liked to lectures his superiors or ignore their odds when he didn't approve of them, that whole outlook was fading. our army was being -- was becoming a professional corps that recognized and didn't question civilian leadership in the way jackson did. that was the wave of the future. that was part of the legacy of
1812. yes, ma'am, remembered your question? >> yes. nobody has spoken about the economy within the united states once the blockade became effect ive how did they keep things going? >> i thought i d how did the blockade affect the u.s. economy? it had a devastating impact on the u.s. economy. >> how did they survive? >> how do people survive in hard times? well, there was a lot of trade with the enemy along the coast and the canadians frontier, and a lot of historians following contemporary republicans wanted to blame that enemy trade on the -- but i think it was bipartisan. i think more republicans traded across the canadian frontier, simp lay because there were more republicans living in those remote areas. about you people traded with the
i'm the battle of plattsburgh museum. it's on the old army post. there has been an army post here everson's the war of 1812. in this museum, the most important item is this painting. it shows the culmination of the --tle between the royal navy when the royal navy had finally closed with the americans, and they audit out.
, for an yards apart hour and a half. there were some 90 guns firing at the same time. the noise was so disoriented that the sailors were unable to figure out what was going on, and they began to load cannons one ball after the other after the other until they had so many cannonballs that the ball rolled out the end of the barrel, and another case where they put too much power in and the cannon exploded when they set it off. there is a huge cloud of smoke out on the battlefield, and at the very end of the naval battle, the british struck their colors there on the right, and that was seen by the general who was sitting up on the hill. when he saw that happen, he knew he had lost the battle. without the navy, without the ships to take his army south, there was no point in going on any longer, and so he recalled
the army, and the next day they left. canada, andback to the battle was over. he planned to come and fight again in the spring, but of course, the treaty of can't happened in between, and the red coated soldiers whenever seen here again in the united states. >> 200 years ago this summer, during the war of 1812, british soldiers invaded washington, d.c., and set fire to the white house and u.s. capitol building. president james madison and first lady dolly madison fled the city. next, andrew burstein and nancy isenberg, co-authors of "madison and jefferson." a symposium hosted by the u.s. capital historical society and james madison's montpelier. this is about hour. we'll go over for our reception at the cater house and historic