United States and American History: 1812 and the War of 1812

About the history of the United States in 1812, the War of 1812 with the British, Louisiana is admitted.


--Antiwar Federalists gained strength in Congress.

--The 1st life insurance company was formed in the U.S., in Philadelphia.

Apr. 30 Louisiana was admitted as the 18th State with a constitution allowing slavery.

May 11 England's Prime Minister, Spencer Perceval, who had decided to repeal the Orders in Council, was assassinated before he had actually revoked the orders. Delay in finding his successor pushed the revocation date to June 16. News of the revocation arrived in the U.S. 57 days later, on August 12.

June 18 Congress declared war against England. The Federalists and others were opposed but they were outvoted 79-49 in the House and 19-13 in the Senate.

June 26 A Day of Fast was proclaimed by the governor of Massachusetts as a protest against the war.

July 28 Amos A. Evans, navy surgeon aboard the frigate Constitution, commented in his journal that Boston bookstores have "plenty of sermons in pamphlet form and pieces against 'Madison's ruinous war.'" Evans questioned:

Will the U.S. receive any assistance from the Eastern States in the prosecution of the present war? Judging from the present symptoms, I fear not. Good God! Is it possible that the people of the U.S. enjoying the blessings of freedom under the only republican government on earth have not virtue enough to support it!

July 29 Just 41 days after war was declared, word of the war arrived in England.

Aug. 18 Accounts of the Kentucky Volunteers and Regulars, commanded by Gen. James Winchester, 1812-1813, were kept by several men and published in 1854 by Elias Darnell. One such account says that the volunteers received 2 months' advance pay, but wanted an additional $16 due them in lieu of clothing. The men were given a choice of forgetting about the $16 or going home. Six chose to go home and were drummed out of camp. The journal continues with stories of accidental shootings; of farms in Fort Wayne, Ind., destroyed by Pottowatomies; and of commanding officers ready to surrender, whose commands were taken from them by their lieutenants.

Aug. 19 Amos A. Evans's journal this date: "Wednesday 2 P.M. discovered a large sail leeward, at 4 P.M. discovered it was a large frigate. When we were within 2 to 2 1/2 mi. she hoisted English colors and fired a gun." Evans described the battle, listed the dead and wounded and continued, "After she struck, Capt. J. R. Dacres, Esq., came on board and informed us it was His Britannick Majesty's ship, La Guerriere." The ship was too dangerous to board, Evans said, and the night was spent getting the men and the crew onto the Constitution.

The Guerriere had mounted 49 guns and carried about 260-300 men, according to Evans's report. He described Captain Dacres as a young man of 24, agreeable and pleasant, and noted that the English crew "behaved very nobly and fought like heroes." Evans's report indicated that from "firing of 1st gun to close of action was one hour, 10 min." The Guerriere had 15 dead, 62 wounded. The Constitution suffered 7 deaths, 7 wounded, and had "4 or 5 others not too disabled to come to quarters."

Fall Trade with the enemy in some New England States, as well as in New York, Pennsylvania, and others, was business as usual from the time the war began. Licenses to get through blockades were openly sold by brokers in New York City, Philadelphia, and Boston. American captains in collusion with the British provided the enemy with supplies, and earned money themselves, by pretending to be captured in the blockades.

Nov. 23 "Captain John" of the Kentucks bragged about taking the scalp of Pottowatomie chief Wynemack, breaking his knife in the process.

Dec. 10 Kentuckians made shoes out of green hides. Many didn't have shoes or clothing to keep them from freezing.

Dec. 16 Volunteers threatened to leave in 2 days if flour did not arrive. On the 18th, 300 head of hogs arrived and the men were temporarily pacified. Flour arrived 8 days later.

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