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Fiery election broadside fanning the flames of Federalist opposition to Democratic-Republican foreign policy during the Jefferson and Madison administrations. In tone if not in substance, this jeremiad against Southern planters is not wholly different from the complaints of Southern fire-eaters against Lincoln and the “black Republicans” 50 years later. It shows the intensity of New England sectionalism a year before “Mr. Madison’s War.” “The Embargo cost you millions and millions of dollars. It sunk all the property in New England twenty per cent. It ruined and crippled thousands forever. It drove your sailors into foreign employ … You have been robbed of this treasure by Thomas Jefferson…” [WAR OF 1812].
Broadside. Boston, April, 1811. Untrimmed with wide margins. At bottom, prints resolutions of a public meeting at Faneuil Hall on March 31, 1811, which threatened resistance against Congress’s May, 1810 legislation. With docketing on verso. 1 p., 11¾ x 18⅜ in.
“YOU have lost the election of governor. You have elected but nineteen federal Senators. YET YOU ARE THE MAJORITY. You heed not the things which concern your peace, your property, your freedom. plans are laid to take from you the use of the ocean. You are soon to have no commerce but on the land; no fisheries but in your rivers, and ponds. You now obey the commands of the enemy of the human race, BONAPARTE; these commands are sent to you through the proud, tyrannical slave holding PLANTERS of your Southern States Would war, would the loss of your commerce, the loss of your liberties be evils to you? These are at hand. Will you LISTEN? Will you THINK? Will you ACT? …”
“The policy of your present rulers is that of Jefferson. The planters of the South own SLAVES but no SHIPS. Jefferson spoke the creed of the planters … Jefferson, and his followers are ever sheding tears over the abuses of our neutral rights, the injuries to our commerce, and the wrongs of our sailors. This is to cajole such men as the republicans (as they call themselves) send to Congress, and to blind and cheat their Northern friends… A settlement of our differences with England would have benefited commerce. A treaty was made, but rejected by Jefferson, without ever showing it to Congress. Since that, THREE MINISTERS have been sent to America; but the breach between the United States and England grows wider and wider … The Embargo cost you millions and millions of dollars. It sunk all the property in New England twenty per cent. It ruined and crippled thousands forever. It drove your sailors into foreign employ. … You have been robbed of this treasure by Thomas Jefferson …”
“On the second of November, Mr. Madison proclaimed, that the French decrees were repealed. THEY WERE NOT THEN, NOR ARE THEY NOW REPEALED. With one single exception, every American ship, that has gone to France, and every one met upon the ocean by French cruizers, have been SEIZED, PLUNDERED, SUNK or BURNT! Mr. MADISON knows all this, and what has he done? …”
[docketing on verso in unknown hand:] Morgan Esqr So Brins’s[?] [This docket is the subject of ongoing research by our staff.]
Thomas Jefferson won a landslide reelection victory in 1804, defeating Federalist Charles Cotesworth Pinckney 162-14 in the electoral college. However, thanks in large part to the renewal of war between France and Britain in Europe, Jefferson’s second term in office was stormy, and less successful, than his first. By 1806, both France and Britain had imposed blockades on the other country. Britain, the stronger sea power, began to seize American cargos suspected of trading with France, and also stepped up its practice of impressment, forcing into service roughly 6,000 American sailors in 1806-1807, on the pretense that they were British deserters. Jefferson and Madison, his Secretary of State, responded with the Embargo of 1807, a ban on all American vessels sailing for foreign ports.
The Embargo did not sway British or French foreign policy, and it proved enormously unpopular in New England, which, despite the risks involved, had developed a flourishing mercantile trade during the Napoleonic Wars. In March, 1809, just before leaving office, Jefferson signed the Non-Intercourse Act, banning trade only with Britain and France, but providing that if either nation reversed its edicts against American shipping, then commerce could resume. President Madison, soon upon taking office, bent even further to popular will, but in a way that stretched the bounds of logic. Macon’s Bill No. 2 allowed all trade to resume but stated that if either France or Britain reversed its edicts against American shipping, then the U.S. would re-impose its embargo against the other. The broadside, and the meeting whose minutes are printed theron, were protesting Macon’s Bill No. 2, which became law on May 1, 1810. The sly Napoleon tested the law by repealing his decrees against neutral commerce with Britain, and in the spring of 1812, Madison and Congress reinstituted the embargo against Britain, helping bring the nation closer to war.
The mistakes of Jefferson’s and Madison’s foreign policy emboldened the Federalist Party in New England, which had been teetering on the brink of collapse in 1804. Federalists would win state assembly and governor’s races, and challenge again for the presidency in 1812. When the War of 1812 broke out, Federalists adopted an uneven course of collaboration and resistance to the war policy of the Madison administration. Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Vermont (at different times) refused to allow their state’s militia to be absorbed into the federal army, leading to cries of treason. Massachusetts Governor Caleb Strong reportedly opened a line of communications with British officials to discuss a separate peace, and many Federalists began to talk openly of secession. Finally, the Hartford Convention, a meeting of delegates from the New England states in December, 1814, proposed amendments to the Constitution designed to end the overrepresentation of the South in the electoral college and Congress (from counting 3/5 of slaves), and to require a 2/3 vote in Congress to declare war. They also employed the language of states’ rights to describe their duty to oppose unconstitutional federal laws.
Marked in manuscript: “Goodspeed 3/26/30 … Miller”
Two marginal tears closed by archival tape applied on the verso, light stain in the upper margin and along the central fold line, the broadside having been folded most likely for mailing purposes, else fine.