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LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
in the history of the world did an English frigate haul down her colors to an American." But this was only the beginning of our successes at sea, for out of fifteen such battles we won twelve. Captain Hull brought his prisoners to Boston. The Constitution, almost unhurt, and henceforth known as Old Ironsides,1 was hailed with ringing cheers. Hull and his brave officers were feasted in Faneuil Hall; Congress voted him a gold medal and gave his men $50,000 in prize money.
229. Progress of the War; Commodore O. H. Perry's Victory. Later that year (1812), the Americans attacked Queenstown, Canada, and General Harrison (§ 225), commander of the Army of the West, tried in vain to drive the British out of Detroit.
In the autumn (1813), Commodore O. H. Perry gained a grand victory on Lake Erie. Perry had built five vessels from green timber cut on the shore of the lake. He added four more vessels, and with that little fleet captured the British fleet carrying more guns and more men. Before the fight began he hoisted a flag over his vessel -- the Lawrence -- bearing the words, "Don't give up the ship."2 During the battle the Lawrence was literally cut to pieces, and her decks covered with dead and dying men. Perry saw that if he persisted in staying where he was, he must be defeated. Taking his little brother, a boy of twelve, with him, he jumped into a boat, and ordered the crew to pull for the Niagara. It was a perilous undertaking. The British shot broke the oars to pieces, and young Perry's cap was torn with bullets; but. the boat reached the Niagara, and Perry gained the battle. Then, on the back of an old letter, he wrote this dispatch to General Harrison,
"We have met the enemy, and they are ours."
1 See Holmes' poem on Old Ironsides, written when it was proposed to break up the old ship. She has been repaired and lies near the Charlestown navy yard.
2 These were the last words of Captain James Lawrence (June 1, 1813), when be fell mortally wounded in a battle between his ship, the Chesapeake, and the English ship-of-war Shannon. Perry had given Lawrence's name to his ship.
BURNING OF WASHINGTON
That victory gave us control of Lake Erie, and the British abandoned Detroit (§ 227).
230. Jackson's Victory at Tohopeka. The next spring (1814) General Andrew Jackson, who was destined to be President of the United States, marched against the Creeks, a strong Indian tribe in the southwest territory, now forming the states of Alabama and Mississippi. The Creeks had recently massacred five hundred men, women, and children at Fort Mimms, near Mobile. Jackson met the Indians in battle at Tohopeka, on a branch of the Alabama River. (Map, p. 203.) He completely destroyed their power, and they surrendered the greater part of their territory to the United States.
231. Battles of Chippewa and Lundy's Lane; Burning of Washington. In the summer of the same year (1814) General Brown, with General Winfield Scott and General Ripley, gained the battle of Chippewa, in Canada. Later, they drove the British from a hard fought field at Lundy's Lane near Niagara Falls. (Map, p. 203.)
Meanwhile, the British had blockaded all our ports along the Atlantic coast, and had plundered and burned a number of towns. Later in the summer (1814) they entered Washington. (Map, p. 203.) President Madison fled in one direction; Mrs. Madison, filling her workbag with silver spoons, fled in another. The President's dinner, which had just been served, was captured and eaten by the enemy. After dinner, Admiral Cockburn, the English commander, and his officers, paid a visit to the House of Representatives. Springing into the Speaker's chair, he cried out, "Shall this harbor of Yankee democracy be burned?" There was a general shout of "Aye!" "Aye!"
The torch was applied, and soon the evening sky was red with the glare of the flames, which consumed the Capitol, the President's house, and other public buildings. A recent English historian1 says of that deed, "Few more shameful acts are recorded in our history; and it was the more shameful in that it was done under strict orders from the government at home." 2
1 J. R. Green's "History of the English People."
2 But we had burned (1813) the Canadian government buildings at York (now Toronto), then the capital of Canada. The truth is, that both sides perpetrated many acts which time should make both forgive and forget.
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
232. Macdonough's Victory on Lake Champlain; British Attack on Fort McHenry. A few weeks after the burning of Washington a British expedition 14,000 strong moved down from Canada by way of Lake Champlain to attack northern New York. Commodore Macdonough had command of a small American fleet on the lake. A British fleet carrying more guns and more men attacked him (1814) in Plattsburg Bay. (Map, p. 203.) At the first broadside fired by the enemy, a young gamecock kept as a pet on board Macdonough's ship, the Saratoga, flew up upon a gun; flapping his wings, he gave a crow of defiance that rang like the blast of a trumpet. Swinging their hats, Macdonough's men cheered the plucky bird again and again. He had foretold victory. That was enough. They went into the fight with such ardor, and managed their vessels with such skill, that in less than three hours all of the British ships that had not hauled down their flags were scudding to a place of safety as rapidly as possible.
The next British attack was on Baltimore, by the same force and fleet that had taken Washington (§ 231). That city was guarded by Fort McHenry. All day and all the following night (September 13, 1814) the enemy's ships hammered away with shot and shell at the fort.1 As the anxious hours of darkness slowly passed, the people of Baltimore asked each other, "Can we possibly hold the fort?" When the sun rose the next morning the question was answered --"our flag was still there"; the British
I It was on this occasion that Francis S. Key, of Baltimore, wrote the "Star-Spangled Banner." Key was a prisoner at the time on board of one of the British men-of-war. All night long he watched the bombardment of the fort. By the flash of the guns he could see
JACKSON'S VICTORY AT NEW ORLEANS
had given up the attack, and were sailing down Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore was safe, and soon every one was joyously singing the new song, the "Star-Spangled Banner."
233. Jackson's Victory at New Orleans; the Hartford Convention; End of the War. Early the next year came the final battle of the war. The contest had now lasted over two years. The British determined to strike a tremendous blow at New Orleans. If successful it might give them a foothold on the Mississippi River. Sir Edward Pakenham with 10,000 picked men made the attack (January 8, 1815). General Andrew Jackson defended the approach to the city with fortifications made of banks of earth and logs. He had only half as many men as the British commander, and they were men, too, who knew practically nothing about war, but many of them were sharpshooters.
In less than half an hour after the fight began Pakenham was killed, and the enemy had lost over 2000 men to our 71. Then the British gave up the battle. It was the end of the war. Great Britain had already made peace with our commissioners at Ghent, in Belgium (December 24, 1814); but the news did not reach us until several weeks after Jackson's victory. The treaty said nothing about the British claim of the right to search American vessels (§ 226); there was hardly need to mention it, for our ships were no longer molested.
our flag waving over it. In the morning, when the mist cleared away, he found it was "still there." His feelings of delight found expression in the song, which he hastily wrote in pencil on the back of an old letter.
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
While the news of the treaty of peace was on its way, delegates from most of the New England States met in Hartford, Connecticut, in secret session. They were men who had bitterly opposed the war from the beginning. It was reported that the convention was plotting to dissolve the Union; but the delegates declared that they met to secure defense for the New England States, and to propose certain amendments to the Constitution.
234. Results of the War. The war was rightfully called our Second War of Independence." It had four chief results:
1. The Revolution had made us independent on land, the War of 1812 made us independent at sea. Henceforth Great Britain respected our rights on the ocean and no longer tried to "fence in the Atlantic."
2. The war showed foreign nations that any attempt to establish themselves on the territory of the United States (§ 233) was likely to end in disastrous failure.
3. By cutting off our foreign commerce for a number of years the war caused us to build many cotton and woolen mills (§ 205). This made us in far greater degree than before a manufacturing people, -- able to clothe ourselves, instead of having to depend on the looms of Great Britain for our "prints" and our broadcloths.
4. Congress enacted a protective tariff, with high duties (1816), to safeguard these mills and other American industries against foreign competition (§ 266).
235. Summary. Madison's administration was mainly taken up with the second war with Great Britain, which began in 1812 and ended early in 1815. We declared war because England refused to stop taking our sailors out of our ships and forcing them into her service. The war put an end to this practice. That was nearly a hundred years ago. Since then England and America have always been at peace with each other. May that peace never again be broken!
JAMES MONROE (DEMOCRAT)
236. Monroe's Administration (Fifth President; Two Terms, 1817-1825); Monroe a Soldier of the Revolution; his Inauguration. Monroe,1 like Washington, got the best part of his education on the battlefield. When the Revolution broke out he was a student in the College of William and Mary, Virginia. He threw down his books and went to do his part in the cause of liberty. Among the gallant officers who helped to gain the victory of Trenton (§ 174) James Monroe, then only eighteen, was one.
Mr. Monroe stood near the ruins of the Capitol at Washington when he delivered his inaugural address. The British had burned (§ 231) that edifice, but the foundations remained unharmed. Workmen were then rebuilding it. The President's address was full of encouragement. It seemed to him that the solid foundations of the Capitol stood an image of the nation, and that, like them, the government was sure to continue to exist.
237. The President's journey through the North; the "Era of Good Feeling." Mr. Monroe spent the summer (1817) in traveling through New England and the northern states. New England had been bitterly opposed to the War of 1812, because the stoppage of commerce had ruined many of her merchants
I James Monroe of Westmoreland county, Virginia (born 1758; died 1831), was elected President by the Republican, or Democratic, party (see § 203) by a very large majority over the Federalist candidate. Daniel D. Tompkins of New York was chosen Vice President. On Monroe's second election, see § 237.