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To an adequate
weighing of conditions there will be indeed resentment for impressment
and the other mortifications; but it is drowned in wrath over the
humiliating impotence of an administration which, owing to
preconceived notions as to peace, made such endurance necessary. It is
not always ignominious to suffer ignominy; but it always is so to
deserve it.

President Washington, in his last annual message, December 7, 1796,
defined the situation then confronting the United States, and
indicated its appropriate remedy, in the calm and forcible terms which
characterized all his perceptions. "It is in our own experience, that
the most sincere neutrality is not a sufficient guard against the
depredations of nations at war. To secure respect for a neutral flag
requires a naval force, organized and ready, to vindicate it from
insult or aggression. This may even prevent the necessity of going to
war, by discouraging belligerent powers from committing such
violations of the rights of the neutral party as may, first or last,
leave no other option" [than war]. The last sentence is that of the
statesman and soldier, who accurately appreciates the true office and
sphere of arms in international relations. His successor, John Adams,
yearly renewed his recommendation for the development of the navy;
although, not being a military man, he seems to have looked rather
exclusively on the defensive aspect, and not to have realized that
possible enemies are more deterred by the fear of offensive action
against themselves than by recognition of a defensive force which
awaits attack at an enemy's pleasure. Moreover, in his administration,
it was not Great Britain, but France, that was most actively engaged
in violating the neutral rights of American shipping, and French
commercial interests then presented nothing upon which retaliation
could take effect. The American problem then was purely defensive,--to
destroy the armed ships engaged in molesting the national commerce.

President Jefferson, whose influence was paramount with the dominant
party which remained in power from his inauguration in 1801 to the
war, based his policy upon the conviction, expressed in his inaugural,
that this "was the only government where every man would meet
invasions of the public order as his own personal concern;" and that
"a well-disciplined militia is our best reliance for the first moments
of war, till regulars may relieve them." In pursuance of these
fundamental principles, it was doubtless logical to recommend in his
first annual message that, "beyond the small force which will probably
be wanted for actual service in the Mediterranean [against the
Barbary pirates], whatever annual sum you may think proper to
appropriate to naval preparations would perhaps be better employed in
providing those articles which may be kept without waste or
consumption, and be in readiness when any exigence calls them into
use. Progress has been made in providing materials for seventy-four
gun ships;" but this commended readiness issued in not laying their
keels till after the war began.

Upon this first recommendation followed the discontinuance of building
ships for ocean service, and the initiation of the gunboat policy;
culminating, when war began, in the decision of the administration to
lay up the ships built for war, to keep them out of British hands. The
urgent remonstrances of two or three naval captains obtained the
reversal of this resolve, and thereby procured for the country those
few successes which, by a common trick of memory, have remained the
characteristic feature of the War of 1812.

NOTE.--After writing the engagement between the "Boxer" and the
"Enterprise," the author found among his memoranda, overlooked,
the following statement from the report of her surviving
lieutenant, David McCreery: "I feel it my duty to mention that
the bulwarks of the 'Enterprise' were proof against our grape,
when her musket balls penetrated through our bulwarks."
(Canadian Archives, M. 389, 3. p. 87.) It will be noted that
this does not apply to the cannon balls, and does not qualify
the contrast in gunnery.

FOOTNOTES:

[128] Broke's Letter to Lawrence, June, 1813. Naval Chronicle, vol. xxx.
p. 413.

[129] Rodgers' Report of this cruise is in Captains' Letters, Sept. 27,
1813.

[130] Captains' Letters, Dec. 14, 1813.

[131] Captains' Letters, June 3, 1812.

[132] The Department's orders to Evans and the letter transferring them
to Lawrence, captured in the ship, can be found published in the Report
on Canadian Archives, 1896, p. 74. A copy is attached to the Record of
the subsequent Court of Inquiry, Navy Department MSS.

[133] James' Naval History, vol. vi., edition of 1837. The account of
the action between the "Chesapeake" and "Shannon" will be found on pp.
196-206.

[134] Secretary to the Admiralty, In-Letters, May, 1814, vol. 505, p.
777.

[135] Naval Chronicle, vol. xxx, p. 413.

[136] Broke, in his letter of challenge, "was disappointed that, after
various verbal messages sent into Boston, Commodore Rodgers, with the
'President' and 'Congress,' had _eluded_ the 'Shannon' and 'Tenedos,' by
sailing the first chance, after the prevailing easterly winds had
obliged us to keep an offing from the coast."

[137] For the reason here assigned, and others mentioned in the
narrative, the author has preferred to follow in the main James'
account, analyzed, and compared with Broke's report (Naval Chronicle,
vol. xxx. p. 83), and with the testimony in the Court of Inquiry held in
Boston on the surrender of the "Chesapeake," and in the resultant courts
martial upon Lieutenant Cox and other persons connected with the ship,
which are in the Navy Department MSS. The official report of Lieutenant
Budd, the senior surviving officer of the "Chesapeake", is published in
Niles' Register (vol. iv, p. 290), which gives also several unofficial
statements of onlookers, and others.

[138] Not "across"; the distinction is important, being decisive of
general raking direction.

[139] Actually, a contemporary account, borrowed by the British "Naval
Chronicle" (vol. xxx. p. 161) from a Halifax paper, but avouched as
trustworthy, says the "Chesapeake" was terribly battered on the larboard
bow as well as quarter. The details in the text indicate merely the
local preponderance of injury, and the time and manner of its
occurrence.

[140] A slight qualification is here needed, in that of the injured of
the "Shannon" some were hurt in the boarding, not by the cannonade; but
the general statement is substantially accurate.

[141] Decatur to Navy Department. Captains' Letters, June, 1813.

[142] Decatur to Navy Department. Captains' Letters, June, 1813.

[143] Naval Chronicle, vol. xxix. p. 497.

[144] Croker to Warren, Jan. 9, 1813. Admiralty Out-Letters, British
Records Office. My italics.

[145] Message of the Governor of Connecticut, October, 1813. Niles'
Register, vol. v. p. 121.

[146] Message of the Governor of Connecticut, October, 1813. Niles'
Register, vol. v. p. 121.

[147] Niles' Register, vol. v. p. 302.

[148] Captains' Letters.

[149] Niles' Register, vol. vi. p. 136.

[150] Captains' Letters, Nov. 3 and Dec. 31, 1809; March 26, 1810; and
Oct. 12, 1813.

[151] American State Papers, Naval Affairs, vol. i. p. 307.

[152] Ante, page 16.

[153] The official reports of Warren and Cockburn concerning these
operations are published in the Naval Chronicle, vol. xxx. pp. 162-168.

[154] Captains' Letters, June 21, 1813.

[155] The American official account of this affair is given in Niles'
Register, vol. iv. pp. 375, 422. James' Naval History, vol. vi. pp.
236-238, gives the British story.

[156] Captains' Letters, April, 1813.

[157] Captains' Letters, May 21, 1813.

[158] Ibid.

[159] James, Naval History (edition 1837), vol. vi. p. 231.

[160] Warren's Gazette Letters, here referred to, can be found in Naval
Chronicle, vol. xxx. pp. 243, 245.

[161] Croker to Warren, March 20, 1813. Admiralty Out-Letters, Records
Office.

[162] Niles' Register, vol. iv. p. 404.

[163] The rise of the tide is about two and a half feet.

[164] This is the number stated by James, the British naval historian,
and is somewhat difficult to reconcile with Warren's expression, "the
troops and a re-enforcement of seamen and marines from the ships." To be
effective, the attack should have been in greater numbers.

[165] The British story of this failure, outside the official
despatches, is given in James' Naval History, vol. vi. pp. 232-234.

[166] Report of the commander of the "Scorpion" to Captain Morris, July
21, 1813. Captains' Letters.

[167] This letter, from the commanding officer of the "Narcissus", is in
Niles' Register, vol. iv. p. 279.

[168] Morris to Navy Department, August 13, 23, and 27. Captains'
Letters.

[169] Captain Hayes, of the "Majestic," in charge of the blockade of
Boston, wrote to Warren, October 25, 1813: "Almost every vessel I meet
has a license, or is under a neutral flag. Spanish, Portuguese, and
Swedes are passing in and out by hundreds, and licensed vessels out of
number from the West Indies. I find the licenses are sent blank to be
filled up in Boston. This is of course very convenient, and the
Portuguese consul is said to be making quite a trade of that flag,
covering the property and furnishing the necessary papers for any person
at a thousand dollars a ship." Canadian Archives, M. 389. 3. p. 189.

[170] Annals of Congress, 1813-1814, vol. i. p. 500.

[171] This parenthesis shows that the censures were not directed against
New England only, for the blockade so far declared did not extend
thither.

[172] Niles' Register, vol. iv. pp. 370, 386.

[173] Ibid., p. 387.

[174] Niles' Register, vol. iv. p. 387.

[175] Ibid., p. 402.

[176] Ibid.

[177] Ibid. Author's italics.

[178] Morris to Navy Department, Dec. 20 and 26, 1813. Captains'
Letters.

[179] Post, chapter xviii.

[180] British Records Office, Secret Papers MSS.

[181] Niles' Register, vol. v.



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