John] 1793-1863 [Russell.

The history of the war, betwee the United States and Great-Britain, which commenced in June, 1812, and closed in Feb. 1815 .. online

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Online LibraryJohn] 1793-1863 [RussellThe history of the war, betwee the United States and Great-Britain, which commenced in June, 1812, and closed in Feb. 1815 .. → online text (page 10 of 38)
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botes of their independence. Althon^b aiive to all
the iDJnrj and irijustice of this system, the American
goremoient resorted to no measares to oppose it,
which were not of the nKMt pacific and iaif^rtial
character in rei;.tioii to both the ag^ressor%. Ih re*
OMmstraoces, its restnction5^ of commerciat it.ter*
coone, and its overtores for accoromodatio:i, were
ci|Danv addressed * F rfand and France: and if
WjOt IS now an jne<, 1 1 tiie reiations of the C'nit-

ed &lsA/bn ti^e^ coantries, it can only be ascrib-
ed to Eri^^tarid her»etf, who rejected the terms
profffcre<i W IxAfa, while France accepted them, and
who conlinQe>» to execate h^,r retaii^dorv Edicts om
Ifae hi(^ teas, while those of France ha*, e here ceased
to operate.

If Greai^ Britain coold not J^ f>€ninaded by consid-
cratioci^ of u.ii'»ers ' -; U, to retniri from a<lof>t-»
iig an» Itfie of Con . ***>'er on|a^t, torAh«rh she

■ii;H)t discover a precerient in iJie ccwl'ict of fier eo-
t- -k J, , ,. k, — '• -frmotel; HO 1 unrer-

t^ the ircuoecuaie


•n4 sure destruction of the \\{,\\ inleivj^ o» a iieiitral
and iinoffentliUiT state, yet it wascoutidontly exj>ected
that she vroulii be willjngr to follow th^^t enemy alsotn
his return towards justice, and, from a resptH't to her
dwn declarations, to |>rooeed pari fkisan with him in
the revocation ot the offeadiriij Edicts. This jnsl
exj>ecUition has, however, bet^i disap|K>inted. and an
exemption o\ the dagr of the I'mled iStates from the
o|>eratioji of the B«. iltu and M:lan Dicrees. has pro-
duced no correspond lUiif moditicalion of the Bnlish
Orders in Council. On the contrary, the (-acK of such
exemption tm the part of France, -. hy the de-

claralKMi and Order lu Conned oi isli ^n em-

inent on tile 21st of this month, to t>e deuieii, and the
engtiar^menls of the latter, to prvHved. step h> step,
with itseiiemv, m tlie work of repeal and relaxntion.
to he disowned or disrepirdtHl.

That Fi ance has .\ ' I her Decrivs so far as
the\ res^>ected the LTm . ". ;;es 1ki> btvn eslablisheii
by declarations and facts. sali>factory lo IIknu, and
which it was [v: \\ should ha\elven equally sat-

isfaiMory to tlu i i government, A formal and

authentic declaration o\ the Fivnch jj;^overiunent com-
municattnl t«» the minister plenipotentiary oftlie Unit-
ed States at Faris, on the otli of Anj;ii>i, 1810, aM-
nounced that tl>e Decrees of Berlin and Milan wert
^€^^oked, and should cease to operate on the Isl of the
succiHHlinji- iSovember, provided thai a convlilion pre-
seuted to Koijland, or anotiier condition preseaUni !•
the Unittni Slates should be perlormed. The cond:-
ti<>n presenttni to thi^ I'n.ted SUites was ivrformei}.
aiKl their ^HTl'ormance reuieivd absolute the repeal
of the Divrees. So far Uieix^fori\ tVom this ivjh^iJ
dependiuij upon a ^^>ndllion in which (uval-Britain
(^uld not actpnesce. it l>ecame absolute, indopenilent
"itf any act «>f Great-Bntam, ihe moment the act pro-
p«>sed lor the performance of U)e United Su»tes wav
accomplishe\l. Such was toe construelion sjiven te
this measure by the Ud ed States from tiie tirsl ; and
that it wjis a correct one h;us been suihciently evinct d
by the sultsequent pnictice.


Several instances of the acquittal of American ves-
sels and cargoes, to which the Decrees would have
attaciied, if still in force against the United States,
have, from time to time, been presented, to his Brit-
tannic Majesty's government. That these cases
have been few, is to be ascribed to the few captures,
in consequence of this repeal, made by French cruiz-
ers : and should no other such case occur, it would be
owing to the efficacy of this repeal, and to the exact
observance of it, even by the most wanton and irreg-
ular of those cruizers.

From the 1st of November, 1810, to the 29th of
January of the present year, as appears by a note
which I had the honor to address to the predecessor
of your lordship, on the 8th of February last, the Ber-
lin and Milan Decrees had not been applied to Amer-
ican property, nor have I heard that such application
has since been made.

But against the authentic act of the French govern-
ment of the 5th of August, 1810, and the subsequent
conduct of the government mutually explaining each
other, and conforming the construction adopted by
the United States, a report said to be communicated
by the French minister of foreign affairs to the con-
servate senate, is opposed. Without pretending to
doubt the genuineness of that report, although it has
reached this country only in a newspaper, yetitisto be
lamented that as ranch form and evidence of authenti-
city have not been required, in an act considered as
furnishing cause for the continuance of the Orders in
Council, as an act which by the very terms of these
Orders challenged their revocation. — The act of the
5th of August, 1810, emanating from the sovereign of
France, otiicially communicated to the British govern-
ment, and satisfactorily expounded and explained by
the practical comments of more than eighteen months,
is denied to afford convincing evidence of the repeal
of the French Decrees, while fidl proof of their con-
tinuance is inferred from a report, which, from its
very nature, must contain the mere opinions and spe-


culationspfa subject which is destitute of all author-
ity until acted upon by the body to which it was prel
sented, which has found its way hither in no more
authentic shape than the columns of the Moniteur.
and for the proper understanding of which not a mo-
ment has been allowed.— But even were the cause
Ihus assigned to the report just, it is still difficult to
f discover what inference can be fairlv deduced from
I It incompatible with the previous declarations and
I conduct ot the French government exemptino- the
United States from the operation of its Decrees.'' The
very exception in that report with regard to nations
who do -not suffer their flag to be denationalized, was
undoubtedly made with reference to the United
fetates, and with a view to reconcile the general tenor
of that report with the good faith with which it became
France to observe the conventional repeal of those
decrees in their favor. However novel may be the
terms employed, or whatever may be their precise
meaning, they ought to be interpreted to accord with
the engagements of the French government, and with
justice arid good faith.

Your lordship will, I doubt not, the more readily
acknowledge the propriety of considering the report,
in this light, by a reference to similar reports made to
the same conservative senate, on the 13th of Dec
1810, by the duke of Cadore (the predecessor of the
present l^renchmmister of exterior relations) and bv
the count deSmionville. In these reports they say
to the emj>eror, (which proves that such reports are
not to be considered as dictated by him) * Sire, as Ion<-
as England shall peri>t in her Orders in Council, so
long your IVIajesly wdl persist in your Decrees,' ami
•the Decrees of Berlin and Mdan are an answer to
tl>c Orders in Council. The Lntish cabinet, has, thus
to speak, dictated them to France. Europe rece-e
them ior her code, and this code shall become *Uu of the liberty of the seas.' Surely this W
gnage IS as strong as that of i!ie report of the 1 Ot!,' r">'^
March and still more absoUUe : W-.v rlir iv is pm qr- '


fication in it in favor of any nation ; tbis language has
both, bv an explanation of the duke of Cadore to
»ie at the same time, and by the uniform conduct of
the French government since, been reconciled with
the repeal of ihese Decrees, so far as they concerned
the United States.

Had the French Decrees originally afforded ail
adequate foundation for the British Oiders in Conned,
and been continued at\er these reports, in full force,
and extent, surely durmg- a period in which above a
hundred Auierican vessels and their cargoes have fal-
len a prey to these Orders, some one solitary nistance
of cajiture and confiscation must have happened under
those Decrees. That no such instance has happened
incontroverlibly proves either that those Decrees, are
of themselves harmless, or that they have been repeal-
ed ^ and in either case they can afford no rightful plea
or pretext for Great-Britain, for these measuies of pre-
tended retaliation, whose sole effect is to lay waste
the neutral commerce of America.

\Vith the remnant of those Decrees, which is stdl
in force, and which consists of municipal regulations,
confined in their operation within the proper and un-
deniable jurisdiction of the States where they are exe-
cuted the United States have no concern ; nor do
t,hey acknowledge themselves to be under any politi-
cal obligation, either to examine into the ends propos-
ed to be attained bv this surviving portion of the con-
tinental system, or 'to oppose their accomplishment.
VVIiatever may be intended to be done in regard to
other nations by this system, cannot be imputed to the
United States, nor are they to be made responsible,
Avhile they relioMonsly observe the obligations of their
neutrality for ^the modem which belligerent nations^
mav choose to exercise their power, for the injury ot
racli other. When, however, these nations exceed
the just limits of their power by the invasion ot the
rio-his of peaceful states on the ocean which is sul)ject
to'^lhe conmion and equal jurisdiction of all nations,
the United States cannot remain indifferent, and by


fljuielly consenting to yield up their share of this juris-
diction, abandon their maritime rights. — France ha<?
respected these rights by the discontinuance of her
Edicts on the high seas ; leaving no part of these
Edicts in operation to the injury of the United States;
and of cours6, no part in which they can be supposed
to acquiesce, or against which they can be required
to contend. They ask Great-Britain, by a like re-
spect for their rights, to exempt them from the ope-
ration of her Orders in Council. Should such ex-
emption involve the total practical extinction of these
Orders, it will only prove that they were exclusively
applied to the commerce of the United States, and
that they had not a single feature of resemblance to
the Decrees, against wliich they are professed to re-

It is with patience and confidence that the United
States have expected this exemption, and which they
believed themselves entitled, by all those considera-
tions of right and promise, which I have freely stat-
ed to your lordship. With what disappointment,
therefore, must they learn that Great-Britain, in pro-
fessing to do away their disaftection, explicitly avows
her intention to persevere in her Orders in Council,
until some authentic act hereafter to be promulgated
by the French government, shall declare the Berlin
and Miian Decrees are expressly and unconditionally
repealed. To obtain such an act can the United
States interfere ? Would such an interference hd
compatible either with a sense of justice or with what
is due to their own dignity? Can they be expected
to falsify their repeated declarations of their satisfac-
tion with the act of the oth of August, 18 10, confirm-
ed by abundant evidence of its subsequent observ-^
ance, and by now aftectingto doubt of the sufficien-
cy of that act, to demand another, which in its form,
its mode of publication, and its import, shall accord
with the requisitions ot Great-Britain ? And can it be
supposed that the French government would listen to


such a proposal made under such circuni stances, and
with such a view ?

While, therefore, I can perceive no reason, in the
rej)ort of the French minister, of the 10th of March,
to believe thattlie United States erroneously/ assumed
the re|.eal of the French Decrees, to be complete in
relation to them ; while aware that the condition of
which the Orders in Council is now distinctly made
to depend, is the total repeal of both the Berlin and Mi-
lan Decrees, instead as forn)erly of the Berlin Decree
only ; and while I feel that to ask the performance
of this condition from otheis, inconsistent with the
honor of the United States, and to perform it them-
selves beyond their power; your lordship will per-
mit me frankly to avow that 1 cannot accompany the
communication to my government, of the declaration
and Order m Council of the 21st of this month, with
any felicilation on the prospect which this measure
presents of an accellerated return of amity and mu-
tual confidence between the two states.

It is with real pain that I make to your lordship
this avowal, and I will seek stdt to confide in the
spirit which your lordship in your note, and in the
conversation of this morning, has been pleased to say
actuates the councils of his Koyal Highness in rela-
tion to America, and still to cherish a hope that the
spirit will lead, upon a review of the whole ground,
to measures of a nature better calculated to attain this
object, and that this object will no longer be made to
depend on the conduct of a third power, or contmgen-
cies over which the United States have no controul,
but alone upon the rights of the United States, the
justice of Great-Britain, and the conmion interests
of both.

I have the honor to be, &c.


c. \The following Order in Council should Iwve been
inserted in pa fje l'2-i.]


At the Court at CaiUoti-Honse, the 21st day of
April, 1812, present his Royal Hij^hness tlie Prince
Rey;ent in Council.

Wh ereas the jyoverntiierit of France has, hv an offi-
cial report, communicated by its minister of Foreign
aftair ! to the conservative Senate, on tlie lOlli of
>VIarch last, removed all doul)ts as to the perseverance
of that iifovernment in the assertion of principles, and
in the in lintonunce of a system, not more hostile to
the maritime rights and commercial interest of the
British empire, Ihan inconsistent with the rights and
independence ot neutral nations, and has iherehy
plainly developed the inordinate pretensions which
that system, as promulgated in the Decrees of Berlin
and Milan, was from the lirst designed to enforce.

And whereas his Majesty has invariaMy professed
his readiness to revoke the Ordi-rs in Council adopted
thereupon, as soon as the said Decrees of the enemy
should he formally and unconditionally repealed, and
the commerce of neutral nations restored to its accus-
tomed course :

His Royal Highness the Prince Regent (anxious
to give the most decisive proof of Mis Royal High-
ness' disposition to perform the engagements of his
Majesty's government^ is pleased, in the name and on
the behalf of his Majestv, and by and with the advice
of his Majesty's Privy C )uncil, to order and declare,
and it is hereby ordered and declared that if, at any,
time hereafter, the Berlin and Milan Decrees shall by
some authentic act of the French government, publicly
promulgated, be absolutely and unconditionally re-
pealed, then, and from thenceforth, the Order in
Council of die 7tli day of January, 1807, and the
Order in Council of the 26lh day of April, 1809,
shall, without any fiu-ther order, be, and the same are
hereby declared from thenceforth to be wholly and


aJbsolulely revoked ; and furllier, that the tu\l beiiefit
of this order shall he extendet.! to any ship or cargo
captured subsequent to such authentic act of repeal
of the French Decrees, although antecedent to such
repeal such ship or vessel shall have commenced and
shall have been in the prosecution of a voyage which,
under the said Orders in Council, or one of them,
'svould have subjected her to capture and condemna-
tion ; and the claimant of any ship or cargo which
shall be captured or brought to adjudication, on ac-
count of any alleged breach of either of the said Or-
ders in Council, at any time subsequent to such au-
thentic act of repeal by the French government, shall
•without any further Order or Declaration on the part
of his^lajesty's government on this subject, be at lib-
erty to give in evidence in the high C )arts of Adaii-
raltv, or any Court of Vice- Admiralty, before whicli
such ship or cargo shall be t/rought lor adjudication,
that such repeal by the French govenimeot had been,
bv such authentic act, promulgated prior to such
capture ; and upon proof thereof, the voyage shall be
deemed and taken to have been as lawful as if the
sad Orders in Council had never been made : saving,
uevertheless, to the captors, such protection and in-
demnity as they may be equitably entitled to in the
judgment of the said Court, by reason of their ignor-
ance, of uncertainty as to the repeal of the French
Decrees, or of the recognition of such repeal by his
Majesty's government at the time of such capture.

His Royal Highness, however, deems it proper to
declare, that should the repeal of the French Decrees,
thus anticipated and provided for, prove afterwards
to have been illusory on the part of the enemy ; and
should the restrictions thereof be still practically en-
forced, or revived by the enemy; Great-Britain will
be compelled, however reliictiintlv, after reasonable
notice, to have recourse to such measures of retalia-
tion as may then appear to be just and necessary.

And the Right Honorable the lords commission-
ers of his Majesty's treasury, his Majesty's principal


Secretaries of state, the lords Commissioners of the
Adtniraltv, and the Jad^es of the high Cjnrt ot Ad-
miralty, and the Judges of the Court* oi Vice-Admi-
raliy, are to take the neeeasani measures therein as to
them shall respectively appertain.


Prerious to the Declaration of War, Gen. Hall,
with about two thousand men, was ordered to proceed
to Detroit. — The army arrived at the head of Lake
Er.e, about the time war was declared ; and >e>trral
officers, and I tdies, with the baggage of the General
Officer^, proceeded down the Lake ti> Delrf'it, in a
gun vessel. — The Bntuh received the news of the
war before Gen. Hull, and sent a brig in pursuit of
his baggage, which succeede J in c- i her, and

carried her into Maiden. — The Bi -. mmander
sent the ladies over to Deirott, in a da:^ of truc^,
which wjisthe first intelligence thej had received of
the war.

Gen. Hull, after concentrating his forc-rs, at Detroit^
crossed over the river to Saiidwich, and isooe^i the
Iv^Liowing^ sias^ular General Order.


Brigadier General and Comm.jjider of the Xorik
Western Arniif of the I nited states :
Inhabitants or Canada I

After thirty years of peace and prosperity, the
United States have been driven to arms. Th^ inja-
nes and aggressions, the insults and mdigniticis of
Great-Britain have once more lefi them no alterna-
tive bat manly resistance, or unconditional submis-
sion. The army under mv command has invaded
your country ; the standard of the Union ao»v waves
» over the territory of Canada. To the peaceable un-
offending inhabitant, it brings neither danger nor dif-
ficulty. I come to tind enemies, not to make them.
I c»me to protect, not to injure you.


Separated by an immense ocean and an extensive
wilderness from Great-Britain, yon have no partici-
pation in her councils, no interest in her conduct.
\"ou have felt her tyranny, you have seen her injus-
tice. But I do not ask you to avenge the one, or to
redress the other. Tlie United States are sufficiently
powerful to afford every security, consistent with their
rights and your expectations. [ tender you the in-
valuable blessing- of civil, political and religious lib-
erty, and their necessary result, individual and gen-
eral prosperity ; that liberty which gave decision to
our councils, and energy to our conduct in a struggle
for independence, vthich conducted us safely and
triumphantly through the stoimy period of the revo-
lution — that liberty which has raised iis to an elevated
rank among the nations of the world ; and which af-
forded us a greater measure of peace and security,
of wealth and improvement, than ever fell to the lot
of any people. In the name of my country, and the
authority of government, I promise you protection to
your persons, property and rights ; remain at your
homes ; pursue your peaceful and customary avoca-
tions; raise not your hands against your brethren.
Many of your fathers fought for the freedom and in-
dependence we now enjoy. Being children therefore
of the same family with us, and heirs to the same
heritage, the arrival of an army of friends must be
hailed by yon with a cordial welcome. — You will be
emancipated from tyranny and oppression, and re-
stored to the dignified station of freedom. — Had I
any doubt of eventual success, I might ask your as-
sistance, but I do not. I come prepared for every
contingency — I have a force which will break down
all opposition, and that force is but the van-guard of a
much greater.— If, contrary to your own interest and the
just expectations of my country, you should take part
in i\\e aj)proaching contest, you will beconsidered and
treated as enemies, and the horrors and calamities of
-war will stalk before you. If the barbarous and sav-
age policy of Great-Britain be pursued, and the sava-


ges are let loose to murder our citizens and butcher
our women and children, this nar will be a nar of'
extermniation. The tirst stroke ot the tomahawk —
the first attempt with the scalping knife, will be the
signal of one indiscriminate scene of desolation. No
white man found fighting by the «side of an Indian
will be taken prisoner — instant death will be his lot.
If the dictates of reason, duty, justice, and humanity,
cannot prevent the employment of a force which re-
spects no rights, and knows no wrong, it will be pre-
vented by a severe and relentless system of retaliation.
I doubt not your courage and tiimness — I will not
doubt your attachment to liberty. If you tender
your services voluntarily, they will be accepted read-
ily. The United Stales offer you peace, liberty, and
security. Your choice lies between these and war,
slavery and destruction. — Choose then ; but choose
wisely ; and may He who knows the justice of our
cause, and who holds in his hand the fate of nations,
guide you to a result the most compatible with your
rights and interests, }our peace and happiness.
By the General,

Captain of the I3th United States' ref/iment of In-
faniri/y and Aid-de-cawp.
Head-quarters^ Sandwich, Jiili/ 12, 1812.


On tlie lOlhof July, Colonels Cass and Miller, aU
tempted to surprise a British post, 300 strong, at a
bridge about five miles from Maiden. — They were
discov< red by the British, and after a slight skirmish,
the British retreated, leaving eleven men killed and
wounded, on the field ; our troops returned to head-
quarters, at Sandwich, and the British re-posted them-
selves again, at the bridge. On the 19th and 24th
there was considerable skirmishing, with trifling suc-
cess, on either side — our loss was six men killed and
wounded — the British and Indians, lost sixteen killr-d.
and several wounded


Soon after General Hull had crossed from Detroit;
into Canada, and had issued his Proclamation, the
greater part of the Militia of the neighboring* country,
gave themselves up to his protectian, or returned
home peaceably, resolving to stand neutral, in the
contest. — Large bodies of the Savage tribes oftered
their services to Gen. Hull, previous to his leaving
Detroit, but he informed them that he was not autho-*
vised to accept them, and wished them to remain si-
lent spectators, and not engage on eitiier side ; but

this was not their choice they immediately

crossed over to Maiden, where they were accepted,
and put into service by the British ; which circura*
stance contributed largely to overthrow (^en. Hull,
as will be seen by his othcial account of the surrender
of Detroit and Michigan Territory, which we give
at full length, with the remonstrance against his con*
duct, of several officers under his command.

Capt. Hull's Letter to the Secretary of
THE Navy.

United Slates Frigate Coustituiion,}^
off Boston Lighty Avg. '30, 1812. }

Online LibraryJohn] 1793-1863 [RussellThe history of the war, betwee the United States and Great-Britain, which commenced in June, 1812, and closed in Feb. 1815 .. → online text (page 10 of 38)