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Sustained honor The Age of Liberty Established   By: (1849-1901)

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Volume X


The Age of Liberty Established







Written history is generally too scholastic to interest the great mass of readers. Dignified and formal, it deals mainly with great events, and often imperfectly with these, because, not pausing to present clear impression by the associations of individual life, it conveys a stiff and unnatural opinion of the past. Historians ignore the details which go to make up the grand sum total of history, and from the very best histories one can get but a meagre idea of the life and times of the people of bygone ages. It is these minor details of past events which lend to fiction its greatest charm, and attract the multitude, by appearing more like truth. Although untrue in the particular combinations, scenes and plots delineated, yet well written fiction is drawn from nature and experience, and these facts in life, as with chessmen, are only arranged in new but natural positions. History should include everything in the nature, character, customs and incidents, both general and individual, that contribute to originate what is peculiar in a people, or what causes their advancement or decline. So broad is its scope, that nothing is too mighty for its grasp so searching, scarce anything is too minute. Were written history a clear transcript of valuable incidents, it would be more enticing than the most fascinating fiction.

It is the purpose of this volume to deal with some of the remote and direct causes of the second war with England, by endeavoring, as nearly as our ability will permit, to transport the reader back to the scenes of eighty or ninety years ago, and give views of the incidents which clustered around the events of that time.

The war of 1812 has been properly termed by some historians the second war for independence; for, in truth, the independence of the United States of America was not established until after that event. Great Britain across the ocean and the horde of Tories still in America had not abandoned all hope of yet making the United States a dependency of the country from which she had fought seven long years to free herself. The war of 1812 was never fought to a finish. In some respects it was a drawn fight. Its results were not satisfactory to the patriotic American, and certainly were not to Great Britain. The contemptible "Peace Faction" continually crippled the administration all through the contest of nearly three years.

After studying the patriotism of New England through the War of the Revolution, one is surprised at the unpatriotic actions of that section of the United States in 1812. One can hardly believe that it was party fealty and political hatred of the democratic party alone which made these formerly patriotic colonies and States hot beds of sedition and treason. It looks as if those States, having built up a flourishing trade with Great Britain, cared little about the impressment of sailors, or the enslaving of their countrymen, so long as they filled their own pockets. The men seized were usually poor, and their happiness, liberty and life were lightly regarded in comparison with the prosperity of the "Peace Party" merchant. If patriotism were dormant in the East, however, in the growing West, and the generous South it was strong. From those sections came the hardy sons of liberty, who taught Johnny Bull anew to respect the rights of the common people. Though the treaty of peace was not satisfactory in many particulars, it more clearly defined the lines between the United States and British possessions in America, leaving the fishery question and the right to search and impressment in an unsettled condition, giving the "Peace Party" an opportunity to say, "I told you so."

An attempt is made in this story to cover the whole period of the war and the causes leading up to it, treating it from the standpoint of an individual of the time... Continue reading book >>

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