United States and American History: 1811

About the United States and American history in 1811, the first colony in Washington, the Battle of Tippecanoe, and the struggle over British Impressment.


--Construction began on the Cumberland Road, now U.S. 40, providing an important aid to westward expansion.

--Josiah Quincy of Massachusetts, during a debate on the Louisiana Purchase, told members of the House of Representatives that if the bill passed, it would be the dissolution of the Union.

--Congressional elections were won by the War Hawks, who favored expansion and the conquest of Canada. They also protested the impressment of U.S. citizens and other British outrages.

Apr. 12 The 1st permanent Pacific Northwest Colony was founded at Cape Disappointment in the present State of Washington.

May 1 An American sailor was removed from an American vessel off Sandy Hook and taken aboard the frigate Guerriere by the British.

May 16 The U.S. frigate President, in searching for the Guerriere, mistakenly disabled the British sloop Little Belt, causing 32 British casualties. The U.S. offered to compensate for the loss in November on condition that the British revoke Orders in Council, which prohibited trade with ports closed to British ships.

Nov. 7 Prophetstown, Ind., where the Tippecanoe and Wabash rivers meet, was the scene of the Battle of Tippecanoe when about 1,000 Indians attacked William Henry Harrison's camp before dawn. The Shawnee Indians were led by Tenskwatawa.

Dec. 9 Speaking to the House of Representatives, Felix Grundy of Tennessee called for war rather than submit to England's impressment of seamen. Grundy, whose brothers had been killed by the Indians, felt the Indian massacres were encouraged by the British. Therefore, he called for removal of the British from the American Continent.

Arguing against war was John Randolph of Virginia. Randolph admonished Grundy for his assumption that the British had put the Indians up to the Battle of Tippecanoe, and he questioned Grundy's motives. Randolph maintained that acquisition of Canada and not maritime security was the real reason that Grundy favored war. He argued that America and England had a common ancestral bond; that the British shared religion and language with the Americans; and even America's legal system owed its being to England.

Eloquent though Randolph was in the cause of peace, many doubted his concern for the country except as it would affect Virginia. Whittier later wrote of Randolph:

Too honest or too proud to feign

A love he never cherished,

Beyond Virginia's border line

His patriotism perished.

Dec. 16 An earthquake in the Ohio-Mississippi valleys caused death and destruction, and the earth's surface rose or sank 5' to 25' over an area of 30,000 sq. mi.

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