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Here, in August, 1807, he was brought to trial on a charge of treason. It was proved that some twenty or thirty persons had assembled on Blannerhassett's Island, in the Ohio; but it not appearing that these conspirators had used any force against the United States, or that Burr was present at the meeting, he was acquitted.
The wars produced by the French revolution still continued. Napoleon, the Emperor of France, extended his conquests over the greater part of Europe; while Great Britain was triumphant in every
In May, 1806, Great Britain, for the purpose of injuring France, her enemy, declared the continent, from Brest to the Elbe, in a state of blockade, although not invested by a British fleet. Many American vessels trading to that coast were seized and condemned. The French emperor soon retaliated by declaring the British Islands in a state of blockade; and the American vessels trading thither were taken by French cruisers. These measures were highly injurious to American commerce, and contrary to the rights of neutral nations.
“On June 22, 1807, the frigate Chesapeake, being ordered on a cruise in the Mediterranean Sea, under the command of Commodore Barron, sailing from Hampton Roads, was come up with by the British ship-of-war, Leopard, one of a squadrun then at anchor within the limits of the United States. An officer was sent from the Leopard to the Chesapeake, with a note from the captain respecting some deserters from some of his Britannic majesty's ships, supposed to be serving as part of the crew of the Chesapeake, and inclosing a copy of an order from vice admiral Berkley, requiring and directing the commanders of ships and vessels under his command, in case of meeting with the American frigate at sea, and without the limits of the United States, to show the order to her captain, and to require to search his ship for the deserters from certain ships therein named, and to proceed and search for them; and, if a similar demand should be made by the American, he'was permitted to search for deserters from their service, according to the customs and usage of civilized nations on terms of amity with each other. Commodore Barron gave an answer, purporting, that he knew of no such men as were described; that the recruiting officers for the Chesapeake had been particularly instructed by the government, through him, not to enter any deserters from his Britannic majesty's ships; that he knew of none such being in her; that he was instructed never to permit the crew of any ship under his command to be mustered by any officers but her own; that he was disposed to preserve harmony, and hoped his answer would prove satisfactory. The Leopard, shortly after this answer was received by her commander, ranged along side of the Chesapeake, and commenced a heavy fire upon her. The Chesapeake, unprepared for action, made no resistance, but remained under the fire of the Leopard from twenty to thirty minutes; when, having suffered much damage, and lost three men killed and eighteen wounded, Commodore Barron ordered his colors to be struck, and sent a lieutenant on board the Leopard, to inform her commander that he considered the Chesapeake her prize. The commander of the Leopard sent an officer on board, who took possession of the Chesapeake, mustered her crew, and, carrying off four
of her men, abandoned the ship. Commodore Barron, after a communication, by writing, with the commander of the Leopard, finding that the Chesapeake was very much injured, returned, with the advice of his officers, to Hampton Roads."
The outrage upon the Chesapeake was followed by a proclamation of the president, forbidding British ships-of-war to enter the harbors of the United States until satisfaction should be made by the British government. In November, the celebrated “orders in council” were issued by the British government, prohibiting all trade with France and her allies; and in December following, Bonaparte issued the retaliatory “ Milan decree,” forbidding all trade with Great Britain and her colonies. In December, 1807, congress decreed an embargo, which provided for the detention of all vessels, American and foreign, at our
own ports, and ordered all American vessels and sailors to return · home. This occasioned great commercial distress; it was repealed on
the 1st of March, 1809, three days before Mr. Jefferson retired from office.
On March 4, 1809, James Madison became president of the United States, and continued in this office for eight years. At the time he entered upon its duties, the state of the country in some respects was gloomy and critical. France and Great Britain were at war, and they issued against each other the most severe commercial edicts in violation of the law of nations, and injurious to those who wished to remain neutral. Great Britain continued her hostile decrees, and for the purpose of enforcing them, stationed before the principal ports of the United States her ships-of-war, which intercepted American mer. chantmen, and sent them to British ports as prizes.
On May 16, 1811, Commodore Rogers, of the American frigate, President, met in the evening a vessel on the coast of Virginia. He hailed, but instead of a satisfactory answer, received a shot from the unknown vessel. An engagement ensued, and the guns of the stranger were soon nearly silenced. Rogers hailed again, and was answered that the ship was the British sloop-of-war Little Belt, Captain Bingham. The Little Belt had eleven men killed and twenty-one wounded; the President had only one man wounded.
In April, 1812, congress laid an embargo for ninety days, on all vessels within the jurisdiction of the United States. On the 4th of June following, a bill declaring war against Great Britain passed the
house of representatives, and on the 17th, the senate; and on the 19th, the president issued a proclamation of war.
At the time of the declaration of war, General Hull, then governor of Michigan territory, was on his march from Ohio to Detroit, with two thousand men, in order to put an end to the Indian hostilities on the western frontiers. He also was authorized to invade Canada. In July, he crossed over to the British side of the river, apparently for the purpose of attacking Malden. This place being reinforced, and a large body of British and Indians collecting, Hull retreated to Detroit, and being besieged, he surrendered his army and the territory of Michigan to General Brock. A second attempt to invade Canada was made by General Van Rensselaer, who crossed the Niagara, with about one thousand men, and attacked the British at Queenston. After an obstinate engagement, he was forced to surrender.
While defeat and disgrace attended the attempts of the Americans to subdue Canada, brilliant success favored the American flag on the ocean. In August, Captain Hull, who commanded the frigate Constitution, captured the Guerriere. In October, Captain Decatur, commanding the frigate United States, captured the Macedonian. In November, Captain Jones, commanding the Wasp, took the British sloop-of-war Frolic. In December, the Constitution, commanded by Captain Bainbridge, captured the Java. In these four engagements the loss of the British in killed and wounded was four hundred and twenty-three; that of the Americans only seventy-three.
In January, 1813, about eight hundred men, under General Winchester, were surprised and defeated at Frenchtown, on the River Raisin, by the British and Indians under General Proctor. Many of the Americans, after they had surrendered, were inhumanly murdered by the Indians. In May, a detachment of seventeen hundred Americans, under General Pike, took possession of York, in Canada. General Pike, with one hundred of his men, was killed by the explosion of a mine. In May, one thousand British troops, under Sir George Prevost, made an attack on Sackett's Harbor, but were repulsed by General Brown. The most brilliant affair in this year, on the side of the Americans, was the capture of the British fleet on Lake Erie, by Commodore Perry. The British fleet consisted of six vessels, carrying sixty-three guns; the Americans had nine vessels, and fifty-six guns. The conflict lasted for three hours; but the victory was complete. Perry announced his victory in the following laconic epistle : “We have met the enemy, and they are ours.”
After this victory, General Harrison embarked his army on board of the American fleet, landed in Canada, and defeated the British army 'under General Proctor, near the River Thames. In this battle, Tecumseh, the celebrated Indian chief, in alliance with the British, was killed. This chieftain was one of the greatest of Indian warriors, and was distinguished for his eloquence, dignity of manners, and nobleness of soul. During this year the British obtained some success on the ocean, the most important of which was the capture, by Captain Broke, in the Shannon, of the frigate Chesapeake, commanded by Captain Lawrence. This intrepid officer, being mortally wounded, was carried below, and became delirious, from excess of mental and bodily suffering. Whenever he was able to speak, he would exclaim, “ Don't give up the ship,”—an expression long to be remembered by his countrymen.
The year 1814 was distinguished by severe fighting in Canada. In July, the Americans, under General Brown, crossed the Niagara with three thousand men, and took possession of Fort Erie. A bloody action took place a few days after, at Chippewa, in which the Americans were victorious. In the same month, the American forces, under Generals Brown and Scott, and the British under Generals Drummond and Rial, fought a severe battle at Lundy's Lane. This battle began before sunset and continued till midnight. The action was fought near the cataract of Niagara, whose roar was silenced at times by the thunder of cannon and the rattling of arms. The British were forced to leave the field, with the loss of about nine hundred in killed and wounded. The Americans were so much weakened that they fell back to Fort Erie, which the British afterward attempted to storm, but were repulsed with great loss.
In September, Sir George Prevost, with fourteen thousand men, advanced on Plattsburg. The operations of this army were accompanied by a British fleet, on Lake Champlain, carrying ninety-five guns, and one thousand and fifty men, under Commodore Downie. This fleet was defeated by Commodore Macdonough, whose fleet carried eighty-six guns, and eight hundred and twenty-six men. Upon the loss of the British fleet, Sir George Prevost, after having been repulsed by General Macomb, retreated.
In August, a British fleet arrived in the Chesapeake, and landed an army of five thousand men, about forty miles from Washington. Ilaving defeated the militia at Bladensburg, they entered Washington, burnt the public buildings, and then retreated to their shipping.
About a fortnight afterward, nearly seven thousand men, under General Ross and Admiral Cockburn, made an attack on Baltimore, but were defeated, and General Ross was killed.
While negotiations for peace were in progress between the United States and Great Britain, a large force, under Sir Edward Packenham, landed for the attack of New Orleans. The defense of this place was entrusted to General Jackson, whose force was about six thousand men, chiefly raw militia. On the morning of the 8th of January, 1815, the main body of the enemy, seven or eight thousand in number, marched to the assault of the American lines. The Americans, in security behind their breastworks of cotton bales and other materials, which no balls could penetrate, were formed in two ranks, those in the rear loading for those in front. By this they were enabled to fire without intermission. As the British approached sufficiently near for shot to take effect, the rolling fire from the American lines resembled peals of thunder, and the plain before them was strewn with the dead and dying. After three brave attempts to force the American lines, in which General Packenham and General Gibbs, the second in command, were mortally wounded, the British troops retreated from the field of action. Their loss in killed, wounded and captured, was two thousand six hundred, while that of the Americans amounted to only six killed and seven wounded.
Soon after this event, news arrived that a treaty of peace had been signed at Ghent, by the commissioners of the United States and Great Britain, on the 25th of December, 1814. This treaty was immediately ratified by the president and senate.
While the war continued, the price of commodities was high ; but at its close they fell greatly in price, causing much loss to speculators and traders. Numerous manufacturing establishments had sprung up; but on the restoration of peace, the country was inundated with foreign goods, mostly of British manufacture, and the ruin of most of the rival establishments in the United States was the consequence. In this state of affairs, thousands emigrated to the fertile lands of the west, and new states were added to the Union in rapid succession.
MONROE'S ADMINISTRATION. James Monroe became president in 1817, and continued in office for eight years. His administration commenced under many favorable