Daily Archives: November 2, 2007

Item of the Day: Perpetual War (1812)

Full Title: Perpetual War, the Policty of Mr. Madison. Being a Candid Examination of his late Message to Congress, so far as Respects the Following Topicks. . . Viz. The Pretended Negotiations for Peace . . .  the Important and Interesting Subject of a Conscript Militia . . . And the Establishment of an Immense Standing Army of Guards and Spies, under the Name of a Local Volunteer Force. By a New-England Farmer. Boston: Printed by Chester Stebbins, 1812.



HOWEVER much to be regretted by every friend to commerce, and civil liberty, must be the re-election of Mr. Madison, still it is a more cheering and consolatory reflection, that the struggle has manifested an energy, an intelligence, a spirit of concord and union, a magnanimous disposition to sacrifice party feelings, and personal considerations, in the citizens of the commercial states, which is unexampled in the history of this country. It was indeed to be feared, that no pressure, however great, no sufferings, however severe, would detach men from those chains of party with which they had been so long bound. But we are most happily undeceived; a sense of common danger, a conviction of common interest, and of the absolute necessity of union for relief from oppression, snapped asunder the bonds of faction. —Mutual condescension, mutual consultation soon obliterated the memory of past distinctions, (which after all were merely nominal,) and we now find, with the exception of the dependents upon goverment, and those under their influence, but one great and united people from Maine to Delaware.

It ought indeed to be so; for, from Maine to Delaware we have one common interest, and that is, the preservation of Commerce, which from Delaware southwards, they are detemined to destroy. Still men do not always perceive their interest. But in this case, they could not shut their eyes; it was like “Heaven’s own lightning,” it flashed conviction upon those who were stone blind.

Five years successive commercial restriction, was found ineffectual; it made us grow leaner to be sure, but we were strong and able to survive it. Our persecutors had not patience to endure our lingering death; they therefore got up the guillotine of a maritime war, to cut off our heads at a stroke.

This last act of desperation, has accomplished our wishes; it has opened the eyes of the people, and notwithstanding the reeclection of Mr. Madison, not in vain. If we are as firm and resolute in the pursuit of our purposes, as moderate and conciliatory as we have hitherto been; if we continue to sacrifice to the attainment of peace and prosperity, our party passions, we are certain of success. Let our political enemies triumph in their partial victory; let them attempt to undervalue our courage, our opinions and our importance; we shall shew them in the next Congress, that no government can wage an unnecessary war against the sentiments and interests of the people.

We predicted this change, as did many others, six months ago, in the pahmphet, entitled “Madison’s War.” We advised the people to despise the anti-republican, despotick opinion, that the citizens have no right to discuss the merits of a war, after it is declared. We recommended a constitutional resistance, a resistance at the polls. The people have done so; and what is the glorious unexampled result?

Never since the Declaration of Independence, has such an union been witnessed. In the lower House of Congress, which alone could have been effected in so short a time by popular elections, we shall probably have a peace majority.

The present prospect is, that no one member of Congress, from Maine to Delaware, will be in favour of the war.

In Massachusetts, at no period in its history, had it ever enjoyed so united a delegation. Its voice will now have, as it ought to, its due weight. Let us examine this respectable power, which has risen up as it were by magick, or by the finger of Heaven against a daring and headstrong administration.

These northern and middle states, who are now united in opinion, posess 3,000,000 of inhabitants, considerabley more than did the whole United States at the time of the Declaration of Independence. —They are a body of freemen, distinguished for their industry and virtue. They are the owners of nearly two third parts of all the tonnage of the Untied States, and furnishes, probably three fourths of all the native seamen. They are totally opposed to a war for the privilege of protecting British seamen against their sovereign. They know from their own experience, that this subject of impressment is a mere instrumet, wielded by men who are utterly indifferent about the sufferings of the sailors or the merchants.

The display of the true principles, upon which this subject ought to be considered, is the main object of the following Essays.

We are aware that the friends of administration, (and some few who ought to know better the rights and duties of a citizen,) with uncommon pretensions to patriotism, have bridled themselves in with a haughty and censorious air, when they have read these essays, and have thought to condemn them, and to render the author odious, by representing him as supporting the claims of Great-Britain, and as abandoning the rights of America.

It is a vulgar clamour, which the author heeds not, he has no popluarity to seek, and he fears not for the reputation of his integrity, with the wise and good; but as such a clamour may lead feeble minds to read with distrust, and to weigh with uneven scales, it may not be amiss to say a word or two upon this subject. . . .




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Filed under 1810's, Early Republic, Embargo, Federalists, Government, Political Pamphlets, Posted by Caroline Fuchs