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CHAP. feeling which existed was an attempt to stifle the freedom of
press. The editor of a paper in Baltimore, Alexander 1812. Hanson, a grandson of a president of the continental con
gress, had spoken in moderate terms in condemnation of the June declaration of war, A few days after, the mob, headed by 22.
a Frenchman, destroyed his press and compelled him to fly for his life. Receiving no protection in his rights, as the magistrates connived at the outrage, Hanson and some twenty others thought it their duty to vindicate the liberty of the press. Among this number was General Henry Lee,—the chivalric Light Horse Harry of the Revolution, -the intimate friend of Washington, his eulogist by appointment of Congress, afterward Governor of Virginia, and General Lingan, also a worthy officer of the Revolution. They determined to defend the office of the paper. The mob appeared and stoned the house; the magistrates meanwhile made no effort to quell the riot. Thus the rabble raged during the night ; in their attempts to force their way into the house, one of the ring leaders was shot. General Lingan was killed outright, and some of the other defenders of the office were most shamefully mangled and abused. General Lee was maimed for life. The leaders of the riot were never punished, though afterwards brought to trial,-a mere farce,--the district attorney even expressing his regret that all the defenders of the office had not been killed.
General William Hull, who had served with some distinction in the Revolution, and now Governor of Michigan Territory, was appointed commander of the forces in that region. The Territory contained about five thousand inhabitants, mostly of French origin. He received orders to invade Canada, the ardent friends of the war complacently thinking the inhabitants of that British province would cheerfully put themselves under the protection of the stars and stripes. Hull, however, found bimself in a short time surrounded by a superior force of British and In
GENERAL HULL SURRENDERS HIS ARMY.
dians ; the enemy also held possession of Lake Erie, and CHLAP. had easy communication with the rest of Canada, while between Hull's army and the settlements, intervened a 1822. vast and unbroken forest of two hundred miles. He urged upon the government to secure the command of the Lake before any attempt should be made at invasion, and also to furnish him not less than three thousand well provisioned troops. But he was told that he must content himself with two thousand men, while nothing could be done to secure the control of the Lake. When Hull arrived at DETROIT, then a village of some Suly
9. eight hundred inhabitants, he bad but eighteen hundred men, of whom the greater part were militia ; there he received orders to invade Canada immediately. But by a strange blunder, the intelligence of the declaration of war, designed for Hull, and franked by the Secretary of the Treasury, fell into the hands of the British. They availed themselves of the information, and immediately seized Mackinaw; the first intimation the garrison of that distant post received of the declaration of war. In a short time Hull himself was surrounded, and his communications cut off.
The British general Proctor came up the Lake with reinforcements, whilst the British Fur Company enlisted their employees and excited the Indians. To open a road and obtain supplies, Hull sent out a detachment, but it fell into an ambuscade and was defeated. He now fortified himself, and to open communications to the river Raisin, sent another detachment under Colonels McArthur and Cass; they became bewildered in a swamp, and were forced Aug. to find their way back to the camp.
Presently General Brock, governor of Lower Canada, arrived at Malden with more reinforcements. He passed over the river and summoned Hull to surrender, who refused, and an attack was made upon his position, both from the British vessels and batteries. Brock landed and approached with seven hundred and fifty regulars, and as
CHAP. many Indians. Hull had but eight hundred men, and,
threatened with destruction, as he imagined, by an over1812. whelming force, he surrendered his army and all Michigan Aug. at the same time. 16.
Great indignation was expressed at this failure. The difficulties of Hull's position were very great, and perhaps, while no one doubted his personal courage, he may have wanted that sternness of soul so necessary to a successful commander. Those in authority screened themselves, by making the unfortunate general the scape-goat for their blunders, in sending him with a force and means so inadequate. When brought to trial, two years afterward, he urged in defence, that all the inhabitants of the territory would have been exposed to certain massacre had he attempted further resistance. The court, however, found him guilty of cowardice, and sentenced him to be shot ; but in consideration of his revolutionary services, the President granted him a pardon. His papers, since published, , have revealed the insurmountable difficulties that surrounded him.
It is remarkable that one of the causes of the war, was removed within four days after its declaration. France unconditionally repealed the Berlin and Milan decrees, then Great Britain repealed her Orders in Council, which had been based on the French decrees. The impressment question still remained unsettled. Nearly six thousand cases of alleged impressment were on record in the State Department at Washington. It was admitted on the floor of the House of Commons, that there were probably sixteen hundred native-born Americans held in bondage in the British navy. Of these several hundred had already been liberated, and a willingness was expressed to discharge the remainder, as soon as their nationality was fully known. But the British naval officers complained that the plea of American citizenship was very much abused ; by forged documents, or by certificates, originally
AMERICAN SHIPS IN ENGLISH PORTS.
genuine, but transferred from one seaman to another as oc- CHAP. casion required. The English government, moreover, was so trammelled by forms that very seldom could the impressed 1812. sailor obtain redress; all such cases must be brought before the Court of Admiralty in London, to reach which was almost impossible.
This, after all, was to be a war to protect personal freedom; to obtain security from the visits to our ships of British press-gangs, led by insolent officers, and as such took hold of the sympathies of the American people. But Britain said, pass a law prohibiting our seamen from enlisting in your service, and we will not search your ships. The reply was, the flag of the United States must shield those seeking its protection. This sentiment appeared to England very like an effort to seduce her seamen from their allegiance.
When intelligence of the declaration of war reached England, the government acted generously in relation to the American vessels in its ports. Instead of being con- Aug fiscated as in France, these ships were permitted six weeks to load and unload, and in addition were furnished with protections against capture by English cruisers on their way home. Yet these very vessels and their cargoes were liable to confiscation, when they should arrive in their own land, and that by a law of Congress !
As one of the causes of the war had been removed, Foster, the British Minister at Washington, proposed a cessation of hostilities until another effort should be made to arrange the impressment question. This proposal was not accepted by the American government. Not until all hope of reconciliation was passed, did the English authorities issue letters of marque and reprisal against American commerce ; and they still continued to grant licenses and protection to American vessels carrying flour to Spain for the use of the British armies in that country.
Hull’s surrender threw a shadow over the prospect of
CHAP. conquering Canada. Strenuous efforts were made to inXLII.
crease the army on the frontiers of New York. Major 1812. General Dearborn, who, when a youth, had served in the
Revolution, and had been Secretary of War, under Jefferson, had under his command, in the vicinity of Lake Champlain, five thousand troops, three thousand of whom were regulars; and two thousand militia were stationed at different points on the St. Lawrence, east of Sackett's Harbor, while another army, miscellaneous in character, being composed of regulars, volunteers and militia, was stationed at different points from the village of Buffalo to Fort Niagara. The latter troops were under the command of General Van Rensselaer.
To insure success the Americans must have the control of the Lakes Erie and Ontario ; on the latter they had already a little sloop-of-war, of sixteen guns, and
manned by a regular crew. Captain Chauncey, of the Sept. navy yard at New York, was appointed to the command
of the Lakes. He purchased some merchant vessels, and fitted them out with guns and other equipments, brought from Albany, at an immense amount of labor. He soon however swept the Lake of British ships, which took refuge in Kingston harbor; the Frontenac of the times of French rule in that quarter. Lieutenant Elliot, in the mean time, was sent to equip a fleet on Lake Erie. By
a daring exploit he cut out from under the guns of Fort Oct. Erie, two British armed vessels, which had just come
down the Lake from Detroit.
The invasion of Canada commenced by an attempt to obtain possession of Queenstown, on Niagara river. Owing to a deficiency of boats, only about six hundred men, partly regulars and partly militia, passed over. Colonel S. Van Rensselaer, who commanded the militia, became separated from his men, and Colonel Christie, who commanded the regulars, failed on account of the rapidity of the current to reach the shore. Those who landed were