& White Version
UNDER THE DEMOCRATIC-REPUBLICANS
181. Jefferson Becomes President. The change of administration on Wednesday, March 4, 1801, was merely a change of party in power, not a change of governmental or economic organization. It was the first inauguration taking place at the new capital on the Potomac, and Jefferson made it as simple an affair as possible. The Federalists were losing power, and the Cincinnati were no longer a political power; yet, in spite of a complete change in government personnel, neither the organization of government, nor the economic system controlling the government and constituting the real power of the country, were in the least affected. The Alien and Sedition Acts were quickly repealed; a number of Federalist officials were discharged, and Democratic-Republicans taken on in their place (the intention being to establish and then maintain a balance in the representation of the two parties); and a constitutional amendment (the twelfth) was rushed through the Congress and the States changing the mode of electing the President so that electors, instead of voting for two candidates for President, would vote for one candidate for President, and for another as Vice-President (this being due to the tie between Jefferson and Burr, and the new method of election adapting itself better to party politics). A more difficult problem was that of the "midnight judges" appointed by Adams in his last few hours as President. These were kept out of office by the new Secretary of State, James Madison, who contrived, on various excuses to delay indefinitely handing them their commissions, resulting finally in a mandamus suit against Madison in the Supreme Court to compel him to issue the commissions. The new administration, while the case was being argued pro and con before the Supreme Court, managed to increase the number of Supreme Court judges from five to seven. Since it was known that it had been the Federalists’ intention to use the Supreme Court as a means of holding power in case of an adverse election such as that of 1800-01, the Democratic-Republicans took advantage of the plan for their own benefit. As a result, when an opinion was finally issued, in 1803, the Supreme Court admitted these "midnight judges" were legally entitled to take office, but decided that Congress did not have the constitutional power to give the Supreme Court to hear the case, and therefore refused to take jurisdiction of the case on the ground that the law of Congress granting them that power was unconstitutional and therefore void. This was the first time the Supreme Court of the United States took on itself the right to annul an act of Congress; and for this, the precedent given was the Trevelyan case of Rhode Island which had been repudiated by the Rhode Island political coup of 1786.
In regard to the hostilities against France, the Democratic-Republican party, though they had been forced to give up using the French Revolution as a model to hold before Americans, remained very much pro-French as regarded the war in Europe, and peace was quickly concluded with Bonaparte, who was now declaring himself Emperor of France, as he had really been in effect for several years. It is a curious thing that the French Revolution and the Cincinnati coup came the same year, and that the downfall of the Federalists came the same year as the end of the French Republic.
182. Acquisition of Louisiana. Though Jefferson was personally an opponent of the institution of slavery (he had inherited some slaves, but freed them all), he was really a continuation of the old-time Virginia liberals, who were a sort of go-between for all the conflicting tendencies prevailing. Thus, as a leader of a government, he really represented an attempt to reconcile and hold the balance of power between the institution of slavery in the South, and that of capitalism in the North. He did not represent slavery as such, but he was definitely an exponent of that institution’s tendency for territorial expansion, though in a much milder form than it had assumed under Washington.
In the Northwest, Connecticut’s claim conditions had been partially satisfied by the creation of a public school fund out of the sale of Western Reserve land, and Connecticut surrendered jurisdiction of the Western Reserve to the Federal government, though it had never given up its claim to a reversion right to that region. Following on this, a State government was organized in the eastern part of the territory, originally for the "Ohio Territory" portion southeast of the Greenville Line but later extended to include the eastern division of the Territory as originally laid out, though in defiance of the rights granted the tribes under the treaty of 1795. This region was finally admitted by Congress in 1803 to full membership in the Union, as the State of Ohio.
As to the Southwest, Jefferson was concerned about the strip of land which separated the newly-acquired Yazoo region (now part of the Mississippi Territory) from the Gulf of Mexico. The port of New Orleans was the natural sea outlet for almost the whole overmountain section of the United States; the western settlers, even under the First Republic, had made attempts to capture it by force; and it was now a sort of free port for American trade for a ten-year period which would soon expire. The West Florida ports of Mobile and Biloxi were equally important to the new Yazoo country. The Federalist administration had been content with negotiating with Spain for the free-port privilege in New Orleans; Jefferson attempted to negotiate for the purchase of New Orleans and West Florida.
An unexpected outcome of the war in Europe was Spain’s surrendering its Province of Louisiana to France in 1802. This automatically undid all the former negotiations, and the ten-year free-port privilege for Americans in New Orleans came to an end, so that the mouth of the Mississippi River, the only sea outlet for the entire western region, was definitely to be closed to Americans. Jefferson, instead of opening negotiations to renew former trade agreements, made overtures to Napoleon for the purchase of the port of New Orleans from France. After some delay in the negotiations, Napoleon inquired how much the United States was willing to pay for the entire province of Louisiana.
This came as a complete surprise; a territory was being offered whose exact extent was doubtful, but which, at a most conservative estimate, was much larger in area than the whole United States. When Spain surrendered its claims to this large territory (most of that vast territory was not actually in possession of anyone but the numerous tribes inhabiting the region), Napoleon had intended to make it part of his expanding French empire; but that policy was suddenly rendered untenable. The French region on the Island of St. Domingo was necessary as a base of operations to make it possible to hold the Mississippi ports; and this was passing out of French control very rapidly. We have seen that the French Revolution took the form, in this colony, of a slave rebellion. When Napoleon Bonaparte became Emperor, he summoned the rebel leader of this colony, a slave name Toussaint L’Ouverture, to France, and there had him thrown into prison. The slave revolution was then continued in French St. Domingo by another slave leader, Jean Jacques Deasalines, who organized the French portion of the island as the Republic of Haiti; and this meant practical severing of military communication between France and Louisiana. Louisiana thus became untenable for France, even before Napoleon had a chance to take possession of the Mississippi ports of New Orleans and St. Louis. But the American negotiations for the purchase of New Orleans and West Florida gave Napoleon the idea that Louisiana could be used to build up a new power which would be a rival to Great Britain. Thus, by an accidental combination of circumstances, this vast territory was given to the United States, the price agreed on being $15,000,000.
Just what constituted Louisiana, no one seemed to know. The French claimed Louisiana, before the Great Ohio War, was one of the those vague "discovery claims" that caused so many international disputes over territory none of the European nations had ever possessed―it was, in short, a claim to the entire valley draining into the Mississippi River, though very little of it had ever come under white control. The exact limits of this old French claim, especially on the Gulf coast, nobody knew. It had, at that time, included West Florida and some of the coast of what is now Texas. Whether it extended to the Rocky Mountains or to the Pacific Coast, was also vague. The French claim to Louisiana up to 1763 had been a fruitful cause of intercolonial and international wars all over America, and, for that matter, all over the world. It was substantially this vague and unsupported claim that was brought by the United States in 1803―a claim that put the United States in the same position as France was in the first part of the previous century―that of being obliged to dispute territory with, and fight against, all neighboring powers. The treaty of purchase merely stated the limits as being the same limits that Louisiana had under France and under Spain. This the United States government affected to believe meant the limits France claimed before 1763, which covered the major portion of North America. It covered West Florida―which Spain had never ceded to France in the treaty of 1802, and which therefore France could not sell to the United States; it included a claim to the Columbia River region of the Pacific coast (supposed by Europeans in 1763 to be the location of a vast island sea) as well as to the Spanish province of Alta California. Jefferson was particularly insistent that the purchase had included West Florida, whereas the Spanish limits of Louisiana were, on the eastern side, the national boundary established in 1763, namely, the Mississippi River, including the "Island of Orleans" (a swamp island on which New Orleans is located) within the Louisiana boundaries, even though east of the river. The United States seized by force the section of West Florida between the Mississippi and the Pearl River, as part of the new acquisition of territory.
Government expeditions were sent into various portions of the Province of Louisiana to decide how far the United States was going to extend its territorial claims. Some of these expeditions returned, and some landed in the Spanish settlements in New Mexico. The expedition of Lewis and Clark was the most remarkable; under the guidance of a red woman captive from the Pacific coast region, they ascended the Missouri River, crossing the Rocky Mountains to the Wauregan country, which had been claimed under Washington’s administration as a United States discovery, and which was now claimed as part of Louisiana; and the explorers mapped out a "northern boundary of Louisiana" extending straight to the Pacific Ocean. The entire region―the upper Missouri and the Wauregan country―had actually been under Spanish trading influence for some time, and was now claimed by Great Britain as part of the Hudson's Bay Company’s territory. The Pacific Coast was also claimed by Russia as part of its North American territory, which had been spreading gradually southwards from the Bering Straits for some time; shortly after this a Russian expedition was sent down into Upper California, and reached the San Francisco peninsula before being defeated by the Spanish. (The part of the peninsula where the Russian expedition landed is still called Russian Hill. Other names of Russian origin are still left in Northern California, such as Shasta, an English version of the Russian name Chista, meaning clean, and intended as a translation of the native name of the mountain, Ieka, meaning white.) It was when Russia began to push territorial claims conflicting with those of the United States that Russia, after holding off for thirty years, finally recognized the United States.
The boundary of Louisiana on the southwest side was also vague and indefinite, and the United States, going back to old French settlements from before the Great Ohio War, claimed the Gulf coast as far as the Rio Grande del Norte, while Spain claimed as far as the Atchafalaya River basin, where the outpost of "Cajun" settlers was located. (These were the descendants of the exiles banished from Nova Scotia in 1764, who still called themselves Acadians.) The argument over the southwest boundary of Louisiana was never quite settled, at least in the minds of the expansionists who were trying to find more room for the institution of slavery. A temporary compromise, however, was reached in 1806.
The Vice-President, Aaron Burr, had become discredited at the end of Jefferson’s first term as President, because, as a result of taking the party differences too personally, he had shot Alexander Hamilton in a duel on the Palisades at Weehawken, New Jersey, in 1804. Once out of office, he formed a plan to take over the disputed portions in the southwest of Louisiana by a military coup, to capture first New Orleans and then the Texas region. A military expedition for this purpose was actually organized on an island in the Ohio River, near Marietta, in 1806; but one of the members of the expedition turned spy, and they were brought to trial at New Orleans, while a hasty treaty was concluded with Spain, compromising the boundary at the Sabine River until the boundary could be definitely fixed; this remained the boundary of the United States till 1845.
The trial of Burr’s little rebel army, however, proved a failure in spite of the defection of one of its members, and the cases had to be dismissed for lack of evidence.
The purchase of French claims to this vast portion of the continent resulted in criticism of the Jefferson administration, particularly in the way of questioning the constitutionality of the action. Formerly it had been the Democratic-Republicans who had been seeking to restrict the Federal government to the items specified by the Constitution as within Federal jurisdiction; now, with the Democratic-Republicans in control of the government, the situation was reversed, and the Democratic-Republicans, once in the saddle, began overstepping the strict bounds of the Constitution, and following an imperialist and expansionist policy, while the Federalists, now become the opposition party, were taking the strict-interpretation point of view. This situation was accentuated when the Province of Louisiana was given a territorial government (entitled the "District of Louisiana") under Spanish law, including establishment of the Catholic Church and suppression of free speech. The Federalist opposition now had the opportunity of raising free speech and constitutionality under the Bill of Rights as an issue, apparently forgetting their Sedition Act of 1798. This temporary government, however, was quickly changed at the petition of the people living in the settled district near the mouth of the Mississippi River, who preferred an elected legislature and a French system of laws. Consequently this arrangement was provided for the "Territory of Orleans," including the new territory south of the 33rd parallel, where most of the French communities were, while the rest of the "Province of Louisiana" was organized temporarily as the "Territory of Louisiana," to be governed by an appointed governor from St. Louis, and which Jefferson was hoping to erect into a permanent home for the red tribes of America.
183. The Embargo. The Democratic-Republican administration was also faced with the problem of keeping neutrality in the was going on in Europe. It was one thing to criticize while they were the opposition party; but now that they were the government, it was a different thing to do something. The problem of keeping American neutrality was also complicated by the fact that the new administration was less inclined than the Federalists had been to encourage American shipping at all costs, and started to economize by cutting down on the ransom payments to the Barbary States in North Africa. The Pasha of Tripoli declared war on the United States in 1801, and, with the imperialistic policy that Jefferson was developing, he sent ships over to Tripoli to besiege their ports. In 1805, taking advantage of Napoleon’s attitude of helping to build up a rival to Great Britain, an American army was sent out from Alexandria in Egypt (now occupied by France), and proceeded across the desert to the Tripolitan port of Derne, which was thus captured by a surprise attack from the land side. From this base, a revolution was arranged in Tripoli, and a new Pasha set up in power there, who made peace with Jefferson on his own terms. American occupation of Derne continued for some time after that, as a guarantee of Tripoli’s observance of the peace.
This seems to have been the first instance of the development of what has become one of America’s standard means of fighting enemies, or of expanding its territories, namely, starting a revolution and then intervening to aid the revolution. It is true that propaganda activities of American rebels in Canada in 1775 really furnished a precedent for this policy; but this was the first time that it was used as a governmental imperialist policy.
In the meantime, there was another sort of piracy with which American ships were having to contend. The British and French navies were resuming the searches and confiscations of American shipping, and, since England and France were attempting to blockade each other, either navy would be likely to hold up and confiscate neutral vessels bound for enemy ports. Finally, because Jefferson was determined to preserve American neutrality, an embargo was declared, forbidding all trade with foreign countries.
This gave the Federalist party an opportunity to revive, to some degree, especially in the seaports, where everything was practically at a standstill, and thousands of people were thrown out of work by the sudden stoppage of sea trade, though some smuggling was carried out at the seaports, and, to a greater extent, across the Canadian border. In New England, opposition was organized under the same smuggling ring of importing merchants that had functioned as a moderate element in the Revolution in 1775. But, on the whole, even this opposition was largely local, and the embargo was necessary to keep the United States out of the European war.
In the meantime, the Federalists were also attempting to develop the old American inventions and resources that had been suppressed when the Second Republic started. Many of the inventions, such as the steamboat, were revived in somewhat altered form, giving to some political leader of the opposition party a monopoly, either by means of a new patent, or by State acts. There was also an attempt to develop some uncommercialized resources such as coal (a fuel that had been used by the tribes of northern Pennsylvania, and that was used to heat some of the hot water used in the sedition uprising in 1798).
Another form of embargo that was being tried out at that time by Jefferson was on the importation of slaves. The Constitution, as drawn up by the Cincinnati, contained a guarantee to slave importation that there would be no Federal interference for what was intended to be a twenty-year period, but which was actually specified as until the year 1808. As this year approached, Jefferson attempted to place a Federal ban on the importation of slaves, though it appeared to be hopeless to pass it through Congress. But when, in 1804, New York State passed a law gradually abolishing slavery (forbidding importation of slaves into the State, forbidding purchase of slaves, and emancipating children of slaves), and New Jersey followed New York’s example shortly after that, this, together with Ohio as a newly-admitted non-slave state, made a Congressional majority against slavery, and an embargo on the importation of slaves was passed, to be effective January 1, 1808. Though the general embargo was repealed after Jefferson went out of office in 1809, the embargo on slave importation remained a permanent law of the United States. The capitalist system of the North was scoring a victory over the slavery system of the South, although it was to a great extent only a paper victory, since smuggling of slaves continued fairly openly until the final abolition of slavery in 1865.
Criticism of the general embargo was bitter, especially from New England, where seaports were plentiful, and the old smuggling ring was now a powerful group of importers. The embargo was often referred to as "O grab me" (embargo spelled backwards), and it became a strong issue in the election of 1808.
The result was that the new Congress repealed the Embargo Act. But there was no party upset at this election, and Jefferson retired from the Presidency voluntarily in favor of his Secretary of State, James Madison, citing as a precedent George Washington’s retirement after eight years in the Presidency, and adding the further reason (which was not Washington’s but Jefferson’s) that democratic government requires that no individual should be too long in control. Thus the precedent has arisen that no one should occupy that office more than eight years, and there have been on that precedent several refusals of a third term. Only one President, until Franklin D. Roosevelt, has ever been a candidate for re-election after more than a full term in office, since the beginning of the Second Republic. This precedent is merely embodied in American tradition, has no legal standing, and is another example of how the present Constitution, intended originally as an instrument of dictatorship, has been diverted from that aim by those American traditions which are derived mainly from the red race.
184. Tecumseh. After Jefferson went out of office as President, his endeavor to turn the Louisiana Territory into a national home for the red race turned into a systematic attempt to evict the tribes of the United States into prepared reservations beyond the Mississippi, where they would be practically imprisoned. This effort of the government was becoming obvious, both North and South. As we have seen, the Greenville Treaty of 1795, made with the revived Ottawa Federation, was being violated from the very start, and the admission of Ohio as a State in 1803, including considerable territory given to the tribes by the Greenville Treaty, emphasized this point very strongly to the tribes of the Northwest (or the Indiana Territory). In the southwest of the original United States territory, in what was known as the Mississippi Territory, the same tendency was made obvious to the Maskoki tribes there, when a Federal Road was constructed across Creek territory, and thousands of white emigrants with their families kept passing through there to pick out homes in the Southwest. Between the Ottawa Federation and the Maskoki tribes, the Cherokees in Kentucky, Tennessee, and northern Georgia, had been having direct experience with aggression from those States and their citizens.
Since all these tribes had common interest to stop this constant aggression in their territory, which was now threatening them with complete eviction from their homes, it was only natural that they should attempt to make a concerted stand. A Shawnee chief named Tecumseh, living in the Indiana Territory, but partly of Maskoki ancestry, planned to reorganize the Ottawa Federation, and convert it into a single grand confederation, including all of the tribes from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes, and from the Appalachian Mountains to the Mississippi River. This combination never assumed final form as an actual federation, but a reorganized and strengthened federation took control north of the Ohio River, and another, under the leadership of the Creeks, took in the various Maskoki nations in the South, while all of the nations of the projected greater federation formed an alliance. Canada proved to be a good source of supplies, equipment, and munitions, for this alliance; and the white settlers throughout the western regions began to get the impression that this alliance of the tribes was a British conspiracy. The fact was that prodding, British or otherwise, was not needed in order to induce the red tribes to resist invasion of their country.
Further aid for this tribal alliance was found from another source. The mixture of Maskoki and Arawak peoples in the Floridas, known as Seminoles, were beginning to revolt against Spanish authority. As we have seen, Spain was conquered by Napoleon, and it was through that circumstance that Spain lost the Province of Louisiana, which ultimately came into American control. For the same reason, Spain was unable to administer effectively its entire chain of colonies in the Western Hemisphere, and revolts were arising in various parts of the Spanish colonies. An armed force of South Americans was raised in the United States by a leader who was a political exile from the Spanish colonies, and in 1806 this expedition landed in Venezuela, making an unsuccessful attempt at establishing there a republic modelled on the United States Constitution. Then came an insurrection in the pampas region of South America, which followed the Venezuelan example, organizing a federal republic called La Plata, also modelled on the United States. In 1810, an uprising took place in Mexico, and the red tribes of the northern part of Mexico, near the Louisiana border, were prominent participants in the rebellion against Spanish authority; in Mexico a Declaration of Independence was issued that was almost an exact translation, at least in spots, of the American document. This insurrection in Mexico was later driven by the Spanish up into the mountains, but was never quite suppressed. With this widespread insurgency harrassing the small remnant of Spanish authority still left on the American continents, it is hardly to be wondered at that the Seminole tribes of the Florida peninsula, who had never been brought into actual submission, should join the revolt from their hideouts in the Everglades. With them were a number of fugitive slaves from the Southern States of the Union and from Cuba; the Seminoles were making a principle of independence, and were giving refuge to the negroes that were escaping from their masters in the United States and in the Spanish colonies. Some of the fugitives had participated in slave insurrections in the United States, and were quite hostile to the American government. As a consequence, Tecumseh’s alliance of tribes from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes came as a welcome aid to both Seminoles and fugitive slaves, who lost no time in joining the alliance and starting in Florida a similar revolution to what was occurring simultaneously in other parts of the Spanish colonies.
This alliance, with preliminary preparations for a grand federal organization, was completed in 1810. In the meantime, the United States government was busy with its own preparations for a coming conflict in that area. The remnant of the Northwest Territory was now split up into several administrative units, and colonization attempted in each one. The western section of the region (as planned in the Ordinance of 1787) was formed into the Territory of Illinois, while a separate headquarters was formed for the administration at Detroit, covering the peninsula between Lakes Huron and Michigan, which was called Michigan Territory. By this time, "territory" was becoming a standard name for a main administrative unit under direct federal control, and that form of administrative unit (as distinguished from a State, which is not an administrative unit of the federation, but has its independent government) was becoming an established part of the government framework, though not specifically mentioned in the Constitution.
In addition, military expeditions during this period took possession of the remainder of West Florida by force. Advantage was taken of Spain’s helplessness at home, in the same manner as the revolutions in Mexico and South America were doing, to assert American territorial claims that had little foundation beyond the wish of the slaveowners to gain for themselves some new territory in which to spread out. The portion of West Florida, including the ports of Mobile and Biloxi, was incorporated into the Mississippi Territory, and East Florida, which included the Florida peninsula and a strip of the Gulf Coast running as far west as Pensacola, was all that was still left to Spain in that portion of the mainland.
The alliance of the red tribes, though it was intended as preparation for making a stand against the United States government, did not take the first aggressive action. This took place when Governor Harrison of the Indiana Territory personally led a military attack on the Shawnee Federation headquarters, the town of Tippecanoe on the Wabash River, capturing the town and massacring the inhabitants. At this time Tecumseh was absent, organizing in the South, so that his activities were still being carried on. The massacre at Tippecanoe in 1811 became the signal for a general war by the entire chain of tribes against the Second Republic, while the Seminoles and fugitive slaves of East Florida were raiding the border from Spanish territory, where they were attempting a revolution.
In the meantime, a different type of tribe was being dealt with in "Louisiana." The northern Mississippi and Missouri valleys were in the possession of a group of nomadic tribes, mainly the powerful Dakota Federation; and, while the United States and the British both claimed this region, the Dakotas would not let anyone gain possession, though they were quite willing to sell furs to both Americans and the Hudson’s Bay Company. Several fur companies were established in St. Louis, and trappers went out from there to get furs, or to buy them from the tribes. These tribes did not have the democratic form of organization that was found in some of the more settled tribes of the Atlantic Coast, but they were ruled by chiefs and priests, and they followed the migrations of the buffalo herds that roamed the prairies. Farther away, in the Rocky Mountain regions, were other tribes that similarly followed the big horns; here were to be found some signs of the institution of private property, which was lacking on the prairies and on the Atlantic Coast; while, over the mountains, in the Oregon country, was a totally different sort of red nation, with a highly-developed aristocracy, an institution of slavery, and a strong sense of property, and to whom trading in furs and blankets was nothing new. In this Oregon region there was a dialect in use for communication between the tribes, called Chinook, and this dialect, in the course of American and British attempts at trading, became somewhat intermixed with English. The two contending nationalities of this region were named in this language Kintshosh ("King George") and Boston (from where the first American ship had reached that region).
The Hudson’s Bay Company, in opposition to the capitalist system that was in control in the northern part of the United States, and which was pushing American trade into the Oregon Country, was operating under the old feudal system, claiming the government and exclusive trading privileges in its territory by special grant from the British king; the territory it thus claimed was the entire northern part of the continent west of the Lake of the Woods. Not under Canada, it was a sort of feudal subsidiary of the king, and had exclusive power of government at any posts it established. Any independent trading or trapping was a violation of its sovereign privileges, and American fur trapping in the upper Missouri valley, or in the Oregon country, was regarded as an invasion of the Hudson Bay territory. This was accentuated when, in 1811, an American fur trading company established a trading post at the mouth of the Columbia River, and named it Astoria for the company’s president, Astor. The Hudson’s Bay Company then made every effort to break up the Astoria trading post, and to drive American fur dealers out of the Oregon and Dakota countries.
185. The Canadian War. Thus both the war with the tribes in the middle West, and the territorial disputes in the farther West, were setting British and American interests seriously at odds by 1811, so that the entire West was demanding war with Great Britain, though fortunately, being as yet federal territory, that part of the country had no vote in the government. The Democratic-Republican administration was naturally pro-French, as that party had been since its beginnings. The South saw its long-awaited chance for territorial expansion in a projected conquest of Canada; while New England, which was doing a considerable amount of trade across the Canadian border, was very much opposed to American entrance into the European war. At sea, the situation was much what it had been―both English and French navies were seriously interfering with the operations of American ships, and American neutrality was not respected by either side in the war. Entering into the European war over shipping issues on either side was no solution to the problem of American neutrality, and would certainly not add to the freedom of American shipping operations. But there had never been a time since the French Revolution when an excuse could not have been found, had the government so desired, for declaring war on either side; and, as we have seen, the pro-British Federalist administration actually did enter the war, on the British side, in 1797, resulting in a violent revulsion that practically destroyed the Federalists as a party. In 1811, with Western and Southern sentiment strongly worked up against Great Britain―especially against Canada―and with a pro-French administration, it was expected that it would be difficult to keep United States from entering the war, this time on the French side. The vote of the South in the government was increased by the admission of the Territory of Orleans in 1812 as the State of Louisiana (not the original province of Louisiana, but just its southern tip); this gave the South and North equal representation in the Senate, a balance which was carefully preserved for a long time afterward. Thus, in 1812, at a time when Napoleon had conquered Germany, and was starting an advance into Russia, the United States entered the war on Napoleon’s side by declaring war against Great Britain.
As a result of the tribal rebellion in the middle West, the British side had success there at first, though it was more the tribes than the Canadians who were successful. A harassing war was carried on by the allied tribes against the United States forces in Tennessee, and in the Mississippi Territory. Farther north, while the Canadians captured Detroit and Michillimackinac, the United States government tried to re-establish, under the name of Fort Dearborn, the post on Lake Michigan that controlled the main portage to the Mississippi River tributaries, a place which had been an important town (Checagou) under the tribes before the white invasion, and which, as a French post, had been destroyed in the intercolonial wars. This revived Checagou was promptly destroyed by the allied tribal forces, and it seemed as though all attempts to resurrect the ancient port of Checagou were doomed to failure. In the Oregon country, the Hudson’s Bay Company captured and took over the American trading post of Astoria.
The war mainly centered around the Great Lakes, and especially around Niagara Falls. On Lake Ontario, the American and Canadian fleets kept on chasing each other around the lake quite steadily (with some indecisive battles here and there) until the end of the war, resting only when the lake froze up in winter. On the Niagara River, the Canadians raided Buffalo and Manchester (Niagara Falls), while attempted American invasions were repulsed by the Canadians at Lundy’s Lane (now Bridge St., Niagara Falls) and at Queenston Heights; both of these latter two battles now being hailed by the Canadians as their great national victories. The fact is, that on lake Ontario and the Niagara River there was no decisive victory on either side; but the South’s projected invasion of Canada failed. Attempts at propagandizing the Canadians also failed; for the war was obviously an attempted invasion of Canada, and appeals to throw off their chains hardly seemed effective when coming from the invader.
The New England States were opposed to participation in the war, and refused to send soldiers. It was a good opportunity for the small remnants of the Federalists to stage a come-back as an anti-war party, and their delegates met in a convention at Hartford in 1814 for that purpose. As the Federalist party was by nature and origin pro-aristocratic and pro-British, they resolved that New England should secede from the United States and return to British allegiance. This resolution ended the Federalists as a party; for New England, besides being the center of the Federalist group, was also the center of rebel activity, and going back to the British Empire was the last thing the people there wanted. Thus the Federalist party, which had never recovered from the blow it gave itself by the Sedition laws in 1798, received its final death-blow at its own hands in 1814 through the Hartford Convention.
Although New England took no part in the general war, preferring to organize societies for advocating the cause of universal peace, nevertheless they were not behind in handling their own local defense against a blockade maintained by a British fleet operating from its base at Halifax. In the case of the Atlantic blockade, it was mainly ships from Boston and other New England ports that were active towards breaking it up, and many of them destroyed some ships of the blockaders.
A similar attitude of local defense only was found in the other side of the border among the French Canadians of Lower Canada, so that little fighting was done on the border between New England and Lower Canada. However, attacks on Maine from New Brunswick were frequent, and the islands of Passamaquoddy Bay, where the border meets the ocean, were soon all in British possession.
In the middle West, the tide of war turned when the rebel tribes found that they were more able to agree with the British authorities than with the American, and it was no part of their plan to fight one master in order to saddle themselves with another. One result of this decision was that the Canadian outposts on the Upper Great Lakes found themselves cut off from supplies, and an American campaign against the tribes in the North resulted in the recapture by the United States of the entire Michigan peninsula, including Detroit and Michillimackinac. Finally the Canadian fleet on the upper lakes sustained a severe defeat at Put-In Bay Island, on Lake Erie. This left the border situation just as it was before the war, as far as the Great Lakes were concerned. At one time the American forces actually made a surprise crossing of Lake Ontario, capturing the city of York (as the British authorities had renamed Toronto), and burning the parliament buildings, but the Canadians, carefully concealing a fair-sized army in the immediate environment of the town, recaptured the place within about a day. Still the war, after much seesawing, showed no decisive results for either side, while the peace move was gaining in the United States.
The tribal alliance was losing ground rapidly in the meantime, both North and South; but no headway was being made against Canada. In 1814, the war in Europe was over, and Napoleon, after a crushing defeat in Russia, was exiled to the island of Elba, in the Mediterranean, while the British fleet, no longer busy with war in Europe, was able to pay more attention to America. Chesapeake Bay was entered by British ships, which captured the city of Baltimore, though some of the fortifications still held out; from that base a raid was made on Washington, where the Capitol was burned, while President and Mrs. Madison managed to escape through the underground tunnel system that had been part of the city’s defense plans. The executive Mansion was so charred by flames in the conflagration that it was afterwards painted white to cover the evidence of damage, and it has since then been known as the White House. This, however, was no more a British victory than the Toronto raid was an American victory, because, the harbor forts of Baltimore remaining uncaptured, it was impossible for the invaders to hold either Baltimore or Washington.
It was during this war that conflict of British and American influence made itself evident not merely on the Pacific coast but in the distant Sandwich (or Hawaiian) Islands. Under the British influence which preceded American trade and missionary influence there, the king of the islands adopted the Union Jack as a flag; during this war, as he was persuaded that the use of that flag would be likely to involve him in the conflict and get him into trouble with the Americans, a compromise flag was adopted for the Hawaiian Islands, consisting of a Union Jack in the corner, and eight red, white, and blue stripes (representing the eight main islands of the group). This is still the territorial flag of Hawaii.
After the British raid on Washington, the government seemed a little bit more disposed to consider that the peace organizations might possibly be in the right, and peace negotiations were entered into, resulting in a peace treaty, signed at Ghent on Christmas Day, 1814, putting an end to the Canadian War, mentioning nothing whatever of the matters originally in dispute, and leaving the border and other matters almost exactly where they were before the war. The only territorial change was that the islands of Passamaquoddy Bay (on the border between Maine and New Brunswick), which had been captured by the British during the war, were definitely specified to be British. Otherwise the war ended as a complete draw―nothing that could indicate that either side actually won. Canada had vindicated its nationality, and the United States had suppressed its tribal uprising.
186. Dictatorship in Louisiana. In those days of slow travel of news, there was an interval between the peace treaty, and actual ending of hostilities. After the signing of the peace treaty, a British fleet attacked the Mississippi Delta in Louisiana. When the State government heard of the attack, Andrew Jackson, who was in charge of military operations against the insurgent tribes in the Mississippi Territory, was transferred to the defense of New Orleans, with his army that was originally in the South to fight the red people. The invaders were repulsed just outside New Orleans, not by the army Jackson brought in, but by local militia from New Orleans itself.
In the meantime, the Federal troops brought in from the Mississippi Territory were staying in the city of New Orleans, presumably to protect the city against invasion, but actually to maintain a state of martial law in the New Orleans region, with Jackson himself in supreme control. This state of military rule was continued by Jackson long after hostilities had ceased, and the people of lower Louisiana began to protest against the illegal continuance of martial law, and the case was brought up in Federal court, with the result that a habeas corpus writ was granted against General Jackson, who replied by imprisoning the judge who issued the habeas corpus writ. The dictatorship was finally ended by the Federal government’s intervening and arresting Jackson, who was fined $1000 for contempt of court.
This short-time dictator of southern Louisiana was then transferred by the army to the border of East Florida, to fight against the border raids conducted by the Florida revolution, which embodied what was still left of the general midwest tribal uprising of 1811. Jackson then took his army troops across the border into Florida, seizing a few Spanish fortresses there, including the border town of Pensacola; then his army pushed into the Florida peninsula proper, put down the revolution of the Seminoles and fugitive slaves, and took military possession of the Spanish province of East Florida, without any government authority to do so, mainly because the slaveowners of the South wanted to recapture fugitive slaves, and also wanted more territory for the expansion of slavery.
187. Fixing the Borders. The period following this private invasion of Florida was occupied in a final realignment of the national frontiers of the North American continent. In 1819, after the Florida difficulty had resulted in strained diplomatic relations between United States and Spain, an agreement was made whereby the United States purchased the Province of East Florida (which, for the United States, was, to some extent, a sort of extension of the Louisiana Purchase claims) and, at the same time, settled the issue of the southwest boundary between American and Spanish territory. The Sabine River, temporarily agreed on in 1806, was taken as the border, which extended in a zigzag line to the Pacific Ocean, where the boundary followed the 42nd parallel. This meant that United States gave up its claims to Texas, while Spain gave up its claims to the Oregon country. The line of demarkation of 1819 still determines the northern boundary of California and Nevada, and the eastern and northern limits of Texas.
In the meantime other frontiers were being determined on this continent. In 1815 the peace treaty ending the Canadian War was supplemented by an agreement covering the northern boundary of the Louisiana Purchase, which was the dividing line between the Missouri Territory and Prince Rupert Land at the 49th parallel from the Lake of the Woods to the "Stony Mountains," as the Rockies were then called. West of the Rockies, all land claimed by either United States or Great Britain was to be "free and open" to settlement by both countries, leaving the Oregon country under joint rule; settlements made by either nationality were to be governed by that nation. This resulted, in many cases, in British-ruled and American-ruled towns growing up so close together as to be practically one, though, for the most part, the Americans settled south of the Columbia River, and the British farther north, on the Fraser River.
An unusual feature of this treaty fixing the boundary between United States and British territory was the provision for disarmament of the frontier. Border fortifications were strictly limited, and the limitations placed on the use of war vessels in the Great Lakes were such as to amount to practical disarmament there. It is probably this disarmament of the Canadian frontier, more than anything else, that has prevented the recurrence of a war between United States and Canada since that time, though later there was the Aroostook War on the Maine boundary, which did not become a national war, and there was a certain amount of fighting between Americans and British in the Oregon region (or "British Columbia," as the British called it) until the joint-rule plan of government was ended there. Before the disarmament of the border, there had been six national wars―most of them involving a large number of nations―across that border; since then, there have been none. A remarkable feature of this disarmed frontier is that the portion of it in the neighborhood of Lake Ontario incorporates into itself part of the unarmed border that the Iroquois Federation devised for its own peculiar form of defense.
Further difficulties in national claims on the Pacific Coast were cleared up when Russia made treaties with the United States and Great Britain fixing the boundaries of its claims on the American continent, thus locating the present Alaska border.
Thus, by 1821, all international boundary disputes in North America were settled―apparently; but the settlement did not take into account the extent to which the institution of slavery in the South was hungry for ever new territorial expansion and conquest of new lands. The joint rule of United States and Great Britain in the Oregon or Columbia territory still left that region hanging in the balance; but otherwise it seemed as though North America had been definitely apportioned out for the first time since 1763.
188. Missouri Becomes a State. With the admission of Louisiana as a State in 1812, the slave states began to regain the balance of power which they had lost when New York and New Jersey abolished slavery. Beginning with that time, there had to be an equal number of slave and free states, so that the Senate would be evenly divided; neither side would give in an inch on that matter, and the admission of each new State was the occasion for a new dispute in Congress, the South opposing if a free State was to be admitted, while there was equal objection from Northern delegates if it was proposed to admit a new State with a constitution permitting slavery. So far, the old boundary, consisting of Mason and Dixon’s Line east of the mountains, and the Ohio River from the mountains to the Mississippi, had been fairly well recognized; but the issue was bound to arise all over again when the issue came up of splitting territory between the two prevailing economic systems in the Louisiana Purchase. The issue first arose about 1819, when the settlers in the neighborhood of St. Louis drew up for themselves a State constitution, and applied for admission as the State of Missouri, which, under the proposed constitution, was to be a slave State.
The principle of balancing free States against slave States in admitting new States into the Union had been fairly strictly observed. The Mississippi Territory was split up into two slave States, Mississippi and Alabama, each with a corridor to the Gulf of Mexico, taken out of the West Florida region, conquered by the United States but still claimed by Spain. To balance these two slave States, two free States were admitted north of the Ohio, in accordance with the geographical scheme laid out in the Northwest Territory Ordinance of 1787. The first of these was Indiana, whose name records the fact that it was originally intended as a refuge for the red people; then came the western one of the planned southern tier of States to be made out of the Northwest Territory. This, which had been part of the Territory of Illinois, and covered substantially the region of the old Illinois Nation, was at first objected to even by the North on the ground that, as the limits stood, its only outlet was down the Mississippi River through the slave settlements, and it was bound to came under too strong a slave-state influence to be able to stay out of slavery very long. This was shown when a few settlements in Illinois Territory, near St. Louis, began to adopt "black-code" ordinances, for the suppression of the negro race on the Southern model. This difficulty about Illinois was obviated by moving the State boundary about fifty miles farther north, so as to give the new State a direct outlet on Lake Michigan, where it was proposed to build an Illinois lake port on the site of the old tribal village of Checagou, through which communication would naturally be with the North rather than the South.
As usual, when the settlements around St. Louis wanted admission as a slave State, the customary amount of opposition resulted, especially since this region was quite as far north as Illinois or Indiana. This entire region, which had been the Territory of Louisiana, was then organized into the Territory of Missouri, which included all of the Louisiana Purchase not incorporated into the State of Louisiana, and which even took care of American claims in the Oregon country. Out of this it was proposed to organize the part near St. Louis as the slave state of Missouri. Opposition raged back and forth, and both sides tried to block each other. It was not a party argument, as the breakdown of the Federalist party after the Canadian War had left the Democratic-Republican organization without opposition; the dispute was on definitely geographical lines. The North proposed to extend to the entire Missouri territory the same slavery-abolition provision as in the Northwest Territory Ordinance; the South stood equally firm for making it all slave territory―they needed room to expand. The admission of a new slave State, such as was proposed, would upset the balance in Congress in favor of slavery.
All sorts of devices to delay and prolong discussions indefinitely were tried in Congress. A representative from Buncombe County, North Carolina, used to interrupt discussions frequently by making long-winded "speeches for Buncombe" which had nothing to do with the subject under discussion, but which made good material to print and send home for distribution. It was from this that long-winded or irrelevant talk gets the name "buncombe" or "bunk."
At this time, the breakdown of the Federalist party resulted in a revival of the old agitation for more liberty and equality in New England―opposed, of course, by the groups of merchants and manufacturers in control of the government. The result was that, in 1820, a new constitutional convention in Massachusetts took up the question of revising the Bill of Rights in the Commonwealth constitution, resulting in the final disestablishment of the Congregational Church, provision for freedom of speech and religion, and complete abolition of the property qualification for voting―a few of the minor issues involved in the Shays Rebellion, and lost with the defeat of that rebellion. In Massachusetts’ non-contiguous possession, the so-called District of Maine, the old separatist movement―the proposition to make a separate State of Maine―was on this occasion revived, and the attempt to organize an independent State government there, suspended after the Shays Rebellion, was pushed once more, and the consent of the Massachusetts legislature finally obtained. The fact that the Maine separation movement was once a distant branch of the Shays Rebellion is still shown by the Pine Tree being incorporated as a State symbol in Maine, which has heretofore become known as the Pine Tree State.
The movement to make a separate State out of Maine came along in time to help settle the entanglement over the admission of Missouri as a slave state. Missouri as a slave state, and Maine as a free state, would keep up the balance of power, still preserving the equality of number between slave and free States. A series of compromises finally settled the various questions which had been involved by Missouri’s application for Statehood. South of Missouri was formed a slave territory, Arkansas, covering the territory between the southern boundary of the State of Missouri and the northern boundary of Louisiana. The rest of Federal territory west of the Mississippi River, the part north of the parallel of 36°30’ (the prolonged southern boundary of the State of Missouri) remained in the Federal unit called Missouri Territory, and the Southern members of Congress finally agreed, in exchange for the admission of Missouri as a slave State, to make the rest of the Missouri Territory non-slave. This continued the boundary between slaveholding and non-slavery territory west to the Rockies, this boundary, by the so-called Missouri Compromise Act of 1820, making a wide detour round the northern side of Missouri State, then continuing along the 36°30’ parallel to the boundary of the United States.
As far as concerned possibility of future expansion, the institution of slavery received a poor bargain in the Missouri Compromise, since the only territories still allowed to that institution were Arkansas and Florida, while the Michigan and Missouri Territories were left open to the North, where slavery was abolished, and these covered a vast amount of land. From 1820 on the expansionism of the Southern slaveholders resolved itself into a furious series of efforts to acquire constantly new territory for the United States, and particularly for the South to form new slave States.
One of the first of these expansions was on the Slave Coast of Africa. Both to avert the growing outcry in the North against slavery, and because the Southern slaveholders wanted to get rid of all free negroes (considering them a bad example to the slaves), a movement was launched in the South to start a colony of emancipated slaves on the same African coast from which the slaves were originally imported. Such a colony was actually formed there, and the settlement was named Monrovia, after President Monroe of the United States, while the territory was named Liberia, as the land of the freedmen.
189. Renewal of South American Revolutions. The year 1815 was one of general reaction in Europe, and, with the re-establishment of the Bourbons, a concerted attempt was made on the part of the old feudal system of Europe to ward off the advance of the new capitalist system. The important Continental monarchies formed what was known as the Holy Alliance, one of whose objects was to wipe out from the earth all traces of representative government. As a result of this union, together with the restoration of a strong Bourbon government in Spain, repressive measures were immediately started against the Spanish colonies in America, which had been left practically to govern themselves during the general European war, and some of which had been organizing themselves somewhat along the lines of the United States. The revolutions in the Spanish-American colonies were, for the most part, wither suppressed altogether, or driven into the mountain and jungle regions. But the repressive measures, coming after the democratic systems of government the colonies had given themselves for a while, and after their trade relations with England and the United States, simply aroused new revolutionary movements, or reinforced the old ones where they were still functioning, and new declarations of independence and reorganized revolutionary governments were in evidence all over Spanish America.
While the southwest boundary of the United States was being settled with Spain, in 1819, the other side of that frontier was already in renewed revolt against Spanish rule―though willing to accept that line of demarcation because it would avoid incidental complications in the way of a boundary dispute with a powerful neighbor. In 1821, a second declaration of independence was issued, and a constitution was drawn up, closely following that of the United States of America, proclaiming that region, formerly called "New Spain," as the United States of Mexico―Estados Unidos Mexicanos. The main difference in the Mexican constitution was that the Catholic Church was recognized as the established church, and criticism of that church was forbidden.
Much of the renewed revolutionary activity, like the activity of the same sort in the Napoleonic period, was the result of "freebooter" expeditions organized in the United States―frequently by Americans, and usually by Southerners looking for some extension of American slave territory. The first of these expeditions was that of Aaron Burr against Mexico in 1804; then the first revolt for Venezuelan independence was also an expedition of this sort. As we have seen, the American government officially used revolution as a weapon in the war against Tripoli in 1805 (which, incidentally, was concluded in 1815 by a surprise capture of Algeria, Tunis, and Tripoli, forcing a surrender of the Barbary governments); and the United States has ever since then made a practice of starting revolutions wherever possible to gain its ends. These "freebooters" were called "flibustero" in Spanish, and the word finally came back to America in the form "filibuster," which remained a specific term for that type of expedition for a matter of about sixty years or so.
One of the first acts of the independent Mexican government was to invite Americans to immigrate and colonize. Among the first of such colonists was Stephen Austin of Connecticut and his son Moses, who settled in Texas for farming, but who were followed by a flood of Southerners anxious to convert the Territory of Texas into a new slave State for the Union. As we shall see*, this attempt ultimately succeeded, and, though it started in the guise of peaceful colonization, it can be classified together with the "filibustering" plans.
By this time, practically all the Western hemisphere colonies of Spain had revolted and formed independent governments, though attempts to federate them, such as the North American states had done for themselves proved uniformly unsuccessful, as nearly all attempts have been at introducing federation outside of its native continent of North America. The question of recognizing these independent governments became of importance. Neither the United States nor Great Britain had any wish to lose the trade of the Spanish-American countries, which would become a Spanish monopoly if Spain were to reconquer those colonies. Ships of the Spanish-American republics were frequently captured as pirate vessels (being registered by unrecognized governments), and yet United States could not take any other stand without some sort of recognition of the South American governments. Great Britain made an attempt at union with the United States to make the Spanish-American republics a joint protectorate of two powers; but that seemed to be merely a step towards making them part of the British Empire, which the United States was not trying to expand any further, especially in view of its difficulties with joint control of the Oregon country.
The final result was that the American government, to block both British expansion projects and the efforts of the Holy Alliance to blot out representative government, announced a Western Hemisphere policy which was drawn up by the Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams, though commonly attributed to President Monroe. This Adams policy (or "Monroe Doctrine," as it is commonly known) favored recognition of newly-established republics, and announced that the United States would oppose any efforts of European powers to take control in any Western Hemisphere region that had achieved actual independence of European control. It did not, as has been more recently interpreted, call for United States control over South American affairs, nor for a North American protectorate over South America; but it did provide for a guarantee of independence for all western Hemisphere countries that could gain it. In other words, far from being a provision for American intervention, as it has lately been interpreted by the American government, it was a proposed American guarantee against intervention.
One region that soon comes within the scope of this doctrine, though neither a republic nor a case of actual revolt against Europe, was the case of Portuguese South America, which had been for some time the refuge of Portuguese royalty from home uprisings. Thus the capital of Portugal had actually been at Rio de Janeiro; and when another Portuguese revolution in 1828 set up a new king in Portugal, the king at Rio de Janeiro simply proclaimed himself Emperor of Brazil, and thus made Portuguese South America an independent nation; but it was actually Portugal that revolted against Brazilian rule, and not vice versa.