Title: The Mentor: The War of 1812
Author: Albert Bushnell Hart
Release date: December 22, 2008 [eBook #27586]
Most recently updated: January 4, 2021
Credits: Produced by Gerard Arthus, Greg Bergquist and The Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at https://www.pgdp.net
The punctuation and spelling from the original text have been faithfully preserved. Only obvious typographical errors have been corrected.
"September the tenth, full well I ween
In eighteen hundred and thirteen,
The weather mild, the sky serene,
Commanded by bold Perry,
Our saucy fleet at anchor lay
In safety, moor'd at Put-in Bay;
'Twixt sunrise and the break of day,
The British fleet
We chanced to meet;
Our admiral thought he would them greet
With a welcome on Lake Erie."
"Let shouts of victory for laurels won
Give place to grief for Lawrence, Valor's son.
The warrior who was e'er his country's pride
Has for that country bravely, nobly died."
—Lines published in June, 1813.
By ALBERT BUSHNELL HART
Professor of Government, Harvard University
|MENTOR GRAVURES||MENTOR GRAVURES|
|THE BATTLE OF
Our defeat of Great Britain in the Revolutionary War was conclusive; though "we" in that case included France, without whose aid the patriots must have been defeated. It is not so easy to discover a fund of military glory in the War of 1812.
That was a great war year. Within a few days of the declaration of war
by the United States against Great Britain, Napoleon's Grand Army of
over 400,000 men crossed the Niemen into Russia. Six months later 4,000
of that host recrossed, pursued by the Russians; and probably not more
than 100,000 of the whole number ever saw their homes again. In 1813,
while the Americans were fighting on the ocean and on Lake Erie,
Napoleon was driven out of Germany. A few weeks before the Battle of
Lundy's Lane, Napoleon was compelled to abdicate. Soon after the news of
the Peace of Ghent with Great Britain was received in the United States,
in 1815, Napoleon broke loose from Elba; and a few months later he was
again a prisoner and sent to St. Helena.
Entered at the Postoffice at New York, N.Y., as second-class matter. Copyright, 1916, by The Mentor Association, Inc.
To most of Europe the American War of 1812 seemed an unwarrantable flank attack in the great running fight of the nations. Russia and [Pg 2]Prussia resented it that American statesmen should throw the weight of their country on the side of the great military despot of his time. They wanted none of the military and naval strength of Great Britain to be diverted across the ocean. The suggestion was even made in Congress that the United States ought to declare war at the same moment on both France and England. That idea has been carried out by Captain Marryat in his once popular novel "Midshipman Easy," where he describes a triangular duel between three sailors; but nations could hardly engage in such a game.
Nevertheless Congress found some difficulty in selecting the enemy to fight; for the conditions were remarkably like those of the year 1915. People used to talk then about the "war between the elephant and the whale": the elephant being the land army of Napoleon, which apparently nothing could withstand, and the whale being the navy of Great Britain, which had command of the sea. That struggle reached a crisis in 1806, when the two belligerents, not being able to reach and hammer each other, did their best to hammer the neutral carrying trade, which was carried on largely in American ships.
Great Britain declared the whole French coast blockaded from Brest to the Elbe, just as in 1915 the same power declared the whole North Sea coast to be blockaded. By Decrees France declared the whole British Islands to be in a state of blockade, exactly as Germany recently declared those coasts to be a "naval zone." The consequence was that the French captured 600 American merchantmen in the next nine years, and the British took 900.
In this long controversy the French were the wiliest, the British were the most arrogant. The United States would have been[Pg 3] justified in war against either of these powers, on the basis of their disregard of our right to keep up neutral trade with both belligerents.
At that time the United States found it hard to provide a remedy. The most obvious method was to refuse to trade with either of the nations. Accordingly an Embargo was laid by Congress in 1807, by which no cargoes of any kind were allowed to leave American ports, bound to a foreign destination. The embargo very nearly brought England to terms; but the United States had not patience to wait for its results. The shipping trade was paralyzed, and the farmers and planters could not export their surplus. In view of these losses, Congress after fourteen months' experience repealed the embargo.
Since neither France nor Great Britain would accept the opportunity to make a friend of the United States, the captures went on; and England added the impressment of American seamen from American merchant vessels. The idea that a subject of the British Empire could change his allegiance and become the citizen of another nation seemed to England a dangerous novelty. Still, if the great sea-power had been willing to pay a little more wages to her men-of-warsmen, she could have filled her ships by enlistment. If she had been content to "press" men from her own merchant ships, she would not have aroused the antipathy of the Americans. To save a few hundred thousand pounds and to assert a right to claim Englishmen who had become American citizens,[Pg 4] Great Britain gave unpardonable offense to the little United States.
When the war broke out, more than 5,000 Americans had been at one time or another impressed; and 2,000 or 3,000 were actually serving on board British men-of-war till the hostilities began. Then, having been originally seized without reason, they were made prisoners of war.
Considering the eventual result of the war, it is striking that the United States government placed little dependence on its navy, but expected to carry on a brilliant land campaign. Canada was to be conquered, and then, as Henry Clay put it, they could "negotiate a peace at Quebec or Halifax."
This was not a new thought. In the Revolutionary War Canada was invaded by Montgomery and Arnold and all but annexed to the new United States. How could Canada resist? Its population in 1812 was about 50,000; that of the United States was nearly 8,000,000. During the nine years from 1803 to 1812 the United States had tried every means short of war; and the vigorous young "war hawks," headed by Henry Clay of Kentucky and John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, were tired of accepting what they felt to be a standing offence to their nation.
In accordance with the plan of invasion, several "armies" of 2,000 or 3,000 men were pushed to the Canadian frontier; but in the very first fight the tables were turned, and Detroit was captured by the British. It took more than a year and 20,000 men to push back the British into Canada. Five different American commanders were ignominiously headed or defeated in attempting to invade Canada across the Niagara River or the St. Lawrence River. Except for Harrison's little victory at the Battle[Pg 5] of the Thames, and for the drawn Battle of Lundy's Lane, the Canadian campaigns were all humiliating defeats.
This disagreeable chapter in our military history was due to the fact that the government had made no sufficient preparation of men or materials, and was obliged to rely upon untrained volunteer militia. These were men of personal courage and intelligence; and under such commanders as Jacob Brown and Andrew Jackson they showed that they had the instincts of soldiers. Nevertheless they were poorly drilled and equipped. In one campaign they stopped short when they reached the Canadian line, because they said they were not constitutionally bound to fight, except for the defense of their own country.
The result was that, starting with a regular army of only 7,000, which finally included about 50,000 men, 400,000 additional recruits were raised during the war. The total number of Canadians and British troops engaged in the war was not over 20,000. The Americans lost 30,000 men; and when the war was over the United States was not in possession of one foot of Canadian territory, while the British were occupying about half of the present state of Maine.
This heartbreaking result ought not to be charged to the soldiers so much as to the administration. John Armstrong, Secretary of War, allowed the British to land 5,000 men on the Chesapeake and to march fifty miles overland to Washington. Within a distance of two days' land travel from that city lived nearly 100,000 able-bodied men, most of them accustomed to handle a gun. Yet the British force was allowed to capture Washington, to burn the public buildings, and to retire to its fleet almost without losing a man. Till[Pg 6] James Monroe became Secretary of War the whole administration was slack and incompetent.
A proof that the defeats of the War of 1812 were not due to lack of fiber among the American people as a whole, was the brilliant success of the operations on the high seas. Jefferson and Madison both thought the navy would do more harm than good. The British had twice seized the little navy of the Danes, and it seemed as though our ships would only be a whet to the appetite of the British naval giant. Against our 18 ships of war, of which only six were sizable frigates, the British could oppose 170 large ships and 700 others. They had the prestige of a hundred years of naval supremacy; they had driven the French and Spanish ships of war from the sea.
Therefore it was a joy to the nation when, seven weeks after the outbreak of the war, the frigate Constitution captured the Guerriere and later the Java; then the United States captured the Macedonian; the Frolic took the Wasp; the Essex, the first American ship of war to appear in the Pacific, captured numbers of British whalers there. In thirteen duels, one ship on each side, the Americans won eleven victories.
Gradually the fleet was worn down; the Chesapeake was taken by the Shannon; the President and the Adams were captured; and at the end of the war there was not a public ship on the ocean flying the flag of the United States. However the navy in two unexpected directions won new laurels. On Lake Erie Oliver Hazard Perry defeated the British fleet at the battle of Put-in Bay, and sent his ever memorable despatch, "We have met the enemy and they are ours: two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop." On Lake Champlain, Commodore Macdonough beat the British; while McComb with his militia withstood and repelled the British attack at Plattsburg.
When the cruisers were driven off the sea, the privateers continued the naval war. At that time a merchantman could be turned into a capable fighting ship by[Pg 7] adding strengthening timbers and providing the necessary guns. Such a ship, when commissioned as a privateer by the United States government, could capture the enemy's merchantmen and on occasion fight small cruisers. For instance, the brig Yankee, 160 tons burden, eighteen guns, 120 men, captured twenty-nine prizes, one of which sold for more than $500,000. The money was divided equally between the owners and the men on board. The privateers together captured about 2,000 British vessels; though over 1,500 American vessels were captured by the English. The whole British nation felt the shock of this unexpected naval resistance; and it was the pressure of the shippers and shipowners of England which caused that power to make favorable terms of peace.
For a hundred years experts have been trying to find out just why the United States was so successful in the naval war. The British newspapers of the day tried to prove that it was because they called a vessel a frigate when it was really bigger and stronger than the British frigate. That did not affect the captain of the Guerriere when he accepted battle with the Constitution: he evidently thought that he had size and power enough to capture his adversary. The Americans appear to have had heavier guns, better training in handling the guns, better marksmanship, to have been quicker and smarter.
It was the privateers that were in the long run most effective. The London Times complained toward the end of 1814 that "there are[Pg 8] privateers off this harbor which plunder every vessel coming in or going out, notwithstanding we have three line of battle, six frigates, and four sloops here." The Morning Chronicle complained that a great part of the coast of Ireland had "been for above a month under the unresisted dominion of a few petty 'fly-by-nights' from the blockaded ports of the United States—a grievance equally intolerable and disgraceful." The Annual Register thought it a mortifying reflection that, notwithstanding a navy of a thousand ships, "it was not safe for a vessel to sail without convoy from one part of the English or Irish Channel to another."
In March, 1915, a British squadron captured the German frigate Dresden in the neutral Chilean waters of the Island of Juan Fernandez. A similar episode occurred in 1814, when the United States ship Essex was cornered and destroyed by two British vessels in the harbor of Valparaiso. The American privateer General Armstrong was also cut out and destroyed by the British under the guns of the Portuguese fort at Fayal in the Azores.
On the face of it there was not much cause for congratulation in a war in which the United States trebled its national debt and lost 30,000 men and 1,500 merchant ships, without gaining any territory and without securing any promise at the end of the war that the disturbance of neutral trade and the impressment of American seamen would not begin again.
Another group of troubles arose from the fact that the New England States were against the war from the beginning, refused to allow their militia to join in the forces[Pg 9] intended to invade Canada, and in 1814 sent delegates to a convention at Hartford. That convention sat in secret, and nobody knows exactly what was said; but the resolutions passed by it and sent out to the country demanded changes in the Constitution which would have made it hard to carry on a federal government. Fortunately before they could be presented to Congress the news of peace was received.
These uncomfortable facts may be cheerfully admitted in view of a strong list of reasons for national congratulation. One was the notable victory of Andrew Jackson at New Orleans, January 8, 1815, after peace had been made, though neither of the armies knew it. Critics have pointed out that Jackson was slow in divining where the British would strike; that he threw up no sufficient intrenchments; that if the British had placed cannon on the west side of the river, they could have fired into his rear and compelled him to retreat. All that does not diminish the glory of Jackson's victory. He showed the energy and determination which brought together a force of 3,500 men, mostly raw militia. This little command lying behind the lines at Chalmette received the attack of 6,000 men. Over 2,000 of the British attacking column were sacrificed, and Jackson remained master of the field, with a loss of seventy-one.
This brilliant success proved that Jackson was a good soldier, which in due time helped to make him President of the United States. It proved also that American militia behind breastworks could repel the attacks of twice their number of experienced soldiers who had recently helped to overthrow Napoleon.
The greatest result of the War of 1812 was to make the Americans realize at once their weakness and their strength. Just at the end of the war Robert Fulton put on the waters of[Pg 10] the Hudson a steamship of war, forerunner of the majestic steam fleets of today. Our forefathers suffered for want of roads by which they could convey their armies and their supplies to the frontiers. Therefore they set out to remedy that condition, and four years after the peace they had the Cumberland Road completed from the upper Potomac to the Ohio River. Six years later the Erie Canal was opened to Lake Erie. The people had suffered for want of a national bank during the war: in 1816 Congress created one. Their trade had been disturbed for over twenty years: in 1816 they passed a tariff, designed to establish American manufactures. War, and especially such a disappointing war as that of 1812, has many bad effects upon a nation; but it does strengthen the feeling of a common danger and a common duty.
The War of 1812 also for the first time gave the United States an unquestioned place in the sisterhood of modern nations. Though the population in 1815 was only about eight and a half millions, the success of the navy inspired a wholesome respect for Yankee ships and Yankee sailors. In place of the captured ships a new merchant marine was quickly provided, which developed into the famous clipper ships, the triumph of American skill and the glory of the seas. From this time dates the friendship of several European nations, particularly of Russia, whose Czar Alexander was a friend and correspondent of Thomas Jefferson.
Our former enemy, Great Britain, was converted into a respectful friend who saw the advantages of friendship. The proof is that eight years later George Canning asked the United States to join in a declaration with[Pg 11] Great Britain in favor of the Latin-American States; and the idea developed into our independent Monroe Doctrine. The American people were entitled to forget their weakness and defeats; for the net result of the War of 1812 was to inspire the greatest naval and colonial power in the world with a respect for American character and an acceptance of the United States as a great National power.
HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
By Henry Adams
Vols. VI-IX contain the best account of the War of 1812.
THE LIFE OF ANDREW JACKSON
By John Spencer Bassett
Vol. 1, chapters vi-xiii, treat of Jackson's part in the war.
THE NAVAL WAR OF 1812
By Theodore Roosevelt
Best account of the naval strategy of the war.
A FULL AND CORRECT ACCOUNT OF THE MILITARY OCCURRENCES OF THE LATE WAR BETWEEN GREAT BRITAIN AND THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
By William James
(2 vols.) The standard English account.
THE CANADIAN WAR OF 1812
By Charles Prestwood Lucas
Recent English point of view.
SEA POWER IN ITS RELATIONS TO THE WAR OF 1812
By Alfred Thayer Mahan
(2 vols.) A study of the whole struggle for neutral rights, and the war.
RISE OF AMERICAN NATIONALITY, 1811–1819
By Kendric Charles Babcock
(American Nation, Vol. XIII.)
Most convenient brief account of the war. Recent and impartial.
NAVAL ACTIONS OF THE WAR OF 1812
By James Barnes
Popular and well illustrated.
⁂ Information concerning the above books and articles may be had on application to the Editor of The Mentor.
If the telegraph had been in existence a century ago, the battle of New Orleans would not have taken place. It was unique in history as a battle fought after a war was over. And it was the only real victory won by the land forces of America in the War of 1812. It was one of the most conclusive battles in history, and a brilliant demonstration of the military ability of Andrew Jackson. General Jackson believed in preparedness. During the second year of the War of 1812 he learned that the British planned to invade Louisiana, so he concentrated troops four miles below New Orleans in a line of entrenchments a mile in length, extending from the Mississippi River far into the swamp, making both ends impassable. Jackson had 3,500 expert marksmen at his command. They were a strange mixture of men, including long-limbed, hard-faced backwoodsmen, Portuguese and Norwegian seamen, dark-skinned Spaniards and swarthy Frenchmen, besides about 1,000 militiamen selected from the Creoles of Louisiana. They were a rough and violent lot. Theodore Roosevelt characterizes them as: "Soldiers who, under an ordinary commander, would have been fully as dangerous to themselves and their leaders as to their foes. But," he adds, "Andrew Jackson was of all men the one best fitted to manage such troops. Even their fierce natures quailed before the ungovernable fury of a spirit greater than their own; and their sullen, stubborn wills were bent before his unyielding temper and iron hand."
On the morning of the 8th of January, 1815, General Pakenham advanced upon New Orleans with a force of about 6,000 trained and experienced fighting men. Jackson knew that the British would have to cross his entrenchments before entering the city. So he placed his force of fierce and deadly fighters within the trenches and opened upon the enemy with volley after volley. The mortality on the British side was frightful. The lines wavered and General Pakenham fell in front of his troops. Utterly demoralized by the withering blast of the American muskets, these hardy British veterans hurried to their camp and escaped to ships. The British lost about 2,000 men killed, wounded and prisoners, while in the American lines there were only about seventy casualties.
So weak and ineffective had been the showing of the American forces in several of the battles of this war that they had incurred the contempt of the enemy. In one final, brilliant blow General Jackson restored the prestige of American arms.
The Mentor Association
ESTABLISHED FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF A POPULAR INTEREST IN ART, LITERATURE, SCIENCE, HISTORY, NATURE, AND TRAVEL
THE ADVISORY BOARD
JOHN G. HIBBEN, President of Princeton University
HAMILTON W. MABIE, Author and Editor
JOHN C. VAN DYKE, Professor of the History of Art, Rutgers College
ALBERT BUSHNELL HART, Professor of Government, Harvard University
WILLIAM T. HORNADAY, Director New York Zoological Park
DWIGHT L. ELMENDORF, Lecturer and Traveler
The purpose of The Mentor Association is to give its members, in an interesting and attractive way, the information in various fields of knowledge which everybody wants to have. The information is imparted by interesting reading matter, prepared under the direction of leading authorities, and by beautiful pictures, produced by the most highly perfected modern processes.
THE MENTOR IS PUBLISHED TWICE A MONTH
SUBSCRIPTION, THREE DOLLARS A YEAR. FOREIGN POSTAGE 75 CENTS EXTRA. CANADIAN POSTAGE 50 CENTS EXTRA. SINGLE COPIES FIFTEEN CENTS. PRESIDENT, THOMAS H. BECK; VICE-PRESIDENT, WALTER P. TEN EYCK; SECRETARY, W.D. MOFFAT; TREASURER, ROBERT M. DONALDSON; ASST. TREASURER AND ASST. SECRETARY, J.S. CAMPBELL
COMPLETE YOUR MENTOR LIBRARY
Subscriptions always begin with the current issue. The following numbers of The Mentor Course, already issued, will be sent postpaid at the rate of fifteen cents each.
|1.||Beautiful Children in Art|
|2.||Makers of American Poetry|
|3.||Washington, the Capital|
|4.||Beautiful Women in Art|
|6.||Masters of Music|
|7.||Natural Wonders of America|
|8.||Pictures We Love to Live With|
|9.||The Conquest of the Peaks|
|10.||Scotland, the Land of Song and Scenery|
|11.||Cherubs in Art|
|12.||Statues With a Story|
|13.||Story of America in Pictures: The Discoverers|
|15.||The Story of Panama|
|16.||American Birds of Beauty|
|18.||Paris, the Incomparable|
|19.||Flowers of Decoration|
|20.||Makers of American Humor|
|21.||American Sea Painters|
|22.||Story of America in Pictures: The Explorers|
|24.||Switzerland: The Land of Scenic Splendors|
|26.||American Landscape Painters|
|27.||Venice, the Island City|
|28.||The Wife in Art|
|29.||Great American Inventors|
|30.||Furniture and Its Makers|
|31.||Spain and Gibraltar|
|32.||Historic Spots of America|
|33.||Beautiful Buildings of the World|
|34.||Game Birds of America|
|35.||Story of America in Pictures: The Contest for North America|
|36.||Famous American Sculptors|
|37.||The Conquest of the Poles|
|40.||Angels in Art|
|42.||Egypt, the Land of Mystery|
|43.||Story of America in Pictures: The Revolution|
|44.||Famous English Poets|
|45.||Makers of American Art|
|46.||The Ruins of Rome|
|47.||Makers of Modern Opera|
|48.||Dürer and Holbein|
|49.||Vienna, the Queen City|
|51.||The Barbizon Painters|
|55.||Famous American Women Painters|
|56.||The Conquest of the Air|
|57.||Court Painters of France|
|59.||Our Feathered Friends|
|60.||Glacier National Park|
|62.||American Colonial Furniture|
|63.||American Wild Flowers|
|65.||The Story of the Rhine|
|67.||American Mural Painters|
|68.||Celebrated Animal Characters|
|70.||The Story of the French Revolution|
|71.||Rugs and Rug Making|
|75.||Fathers of the Constitution|
|76.||Masters of the Piano|
|77.||American Historic Homes|
|78.||Beauty Spots of India|
|79.||Etchers and Etching|
|83.||Yellowstone National Park|
|84.||Famous Women Writers of England|
|85.||Painters of Western Life|
|86.||China and Pottery of Our Forefathers|
|87.||The Story of The American Railroad|
|90.||Great Galleries of The World: The Louvre|
|91.||William M. Thackeray|
|92.||Grand Canyon of Arizona|
|93.||Architecture in American Country Homes|
|94.||The Story of The Danube|
|95.||Animals in Art|
|96.||The Holy Land|
|98.||Joan Of Arc|
|99.||Furniture of the Revolutionary Period|
|100.||The Ring of the Nibelung|
|101.||The Golden Age of Greece|
NUMBERS TO FOLLOW
April 1. GREAT ART GALLERIES OF THE WORLD—THE NATIONAL GALLERY, LONDON. By Professor John C. Van Dyke.
April 15. MASTERS OF THE VIOLIN—Joachim, Paganini, Ole Bull, Maud Powell, Ysaye, Kreisler, and others. By Henry T. Finck, Author and Music Critic.
THE MENTOR ASSOCIATION, Inc.
52 EAST 19th STREET, NEW YORK, N.Y.
AS A REFERENCE LIBRARY
Every Number of The Mentor is valuable. The back numbers are as useful and entertaining at any time as on the date of publication. Therefore, many members wish to own a complete file of back numbers.
For those who own a complete set and desire to use The Mentor as a reference library, we have provided a simple and convenient method of filing and cataloguing The Mentor. In a booklet which we have especially provided for our members, the various Mentors are grouped under headings which link similar numbers together in sets. Attached to the name of each Mentor is a list of the gravure pictures accompanying it, together with a short synopsis of the contents. This gives immediate information as to what each Mentor contains. We will be glad to send this booklet free of charge.
We also provide for our members file boxes the size of The Mentor. These are furnished stamped in gold lettering for forty cents apiece. In these The Mentors may be grouped according to sets.
We also supply a binder which holds twelve or thirteen Mentors and has proved satisfactory in every way. This binder has been arranged so as to hold The Mentor complete, and it has tie-pins to which the pictures are attached, so that they swing freely in their place and the pictures can be enjoyed as well as the text on the back. The price of these binders is one dollar each.
When our members desire to refer to a picture or look up a fact, it is only necessary for them to consult the booklet, finding there in which Mentor the information may be sought.
The price of all back numbers of The Mentor is fifteen cents each.
Write and let us explain the plan more fully.
THE MENTOR ASSOCIATION, INC.
52 East Nineteenth Street-New York City, N.Y.
Monograph Number Three in The Mentor Reading Course
The father of Stephen Decatur, also named Stephen, was a native of Newport, Rhode Island, and a captain in the United States navy. Stephen Decatur, Jr., was born at Sinnepuxent, Maryland, on January 5, 1779. He entered the American navy as a midshipman in 1798 on board the frigate United States. A year later he was promoted to lieutenant and in that rank saw a little service in the short war with France.
In 1801 Decatur sailed as first lieutenant of the Essex, one of Commodore Dale's squadron, to the Mediterranean. As a result of a duel with a British Officer—which resulted fatally for the Englishman—Decatur was sent home for a time. In 1803 he was back in the Mediterranean in command of the Enterprise. He distinguished himself almost immediately.
Conceiving the daring idea of recapturing or destroying the frigate Philadelphia, which had been captured by the pirates and lay in the harbor of Tripoli, on February 31, 1804, he manned a little boat called the Intrepid, with seventy volunteers, and, braving the enemy, he reached the Philadelphia, set it afire and got away, with the loss of only one man.
For this gallant achievement Congress voted Decatur thanks and a sword. He was also promoted to captain.
Following this, Decatur was engaged in all the attacks on Tripoli from 1804 to 1805. In the War of 1812 the ship which he commanded, the United States, captured the British vessel, the Macedonian, after a desperate struggle. In 1813 he was appointed commodore to command a squadron in New York Harbor, which was blockaded by the British. In 1813 he attempted to get to sea to break the blockade with the United States, the Hornet, and the Macedonian, which had been by this time converted into an American ship. A superior British squadron forced Decatur to run into the Thames, and he lay off New London for several months. He sent a challenge to the commander of the blockading squadron to come on and fight, but the challenge was not accepted.
At length, unable to get to sea, two of the ships were dismantled, and Decatur returned to New York, where he took command of a squadron destined for the East Indies. In the frigate President he put to sea on the 14th of January, 1815. The blockading British squadron pursued the ship, and after a desperate running fight forced Decatur to surrender.
Soon afterward Decatur returned to the United States, peace between England and America was declared. But the Barbary pirates were once more giving trouble. Decatur took a command in the Mediterranean.
He arrived before Algiers on June 22, 1815, and immediately demanded a treaty from the Dey. His terms were very brief: no more annual tribute or ransom for prisoners; all enslaved Americans to be released; and no American ever again to be held as a slave. The question of tribute was the most difficult to settle. The Dey feared that other European powers would demand the same terms.
"Even a little powder," said the Dey, "might prove satisfactory."
"If," replied Decatur, "you insist upon receiving powder as tribute, you must expect to receive the balls with it."
In forty-eight hours the treaty was negotiated, giving to the United States privileges and immunities never before granted by a Barbary state to a Christian power.
In 1819 a quarrel arose between Commodore James Barron and Decatur. They met at Bladensburg, Maryland, on March 22, 1820. At the first shots Barron was dangerously wounded. Decatur was also hit, and he died the same evening.
PREPARED BY THE EDITORIAL STAFF OF THE MENTOR ASSOCIATION
ILLUSTRATION FOR THE MENTOR, VOL. 4. No. 3, SERIAL No. 103
COPYRIGHT, 1916, BY THE MENTOR ASSOCIATION, INC.
Monograph Number Two in The Mentor Reading Course
William Bainbridge was born at Princeton, New Jersey, on May 7, 1774. He was a son of Dr. Absalom Bainbridge, a Physician of the town. He received comparatively little education; for he went to sea in a merchant vessel at the age of fourteen. A few years after this, while he was the mate of the ship Hope, on a voyage to Holland he saved the life of his captain, who had been seized by a mutinous crew with the intention of throwing him overboard. On his return home, because of his good conduct and abilities, he was promoted to the command of a ship in the Dutch trade. He continued in command of various ships until 1798.
During this time the war between France and Great Britain made it difficult for neutrals to carry on trade. Therefore as master of a ship Bainbridge had to elude, or beat off a great deal of interference on the part of French and British ships alike.
In 1798, when war was about to break out between France and the United States and the American navy was organized, Bainbridge was appointed commander of the United States Schooner Retaliation, of fourteen guns, with the rank of lieutenant. In November his ship was captured by two French frigates—but it was released shortly afterward.
Bainbridge sailed for the West Indies as master commandant of the brig Norfolk. During this cruise he gave protection to the merchant trade of the United States and captured several of the enemy's merchantmen.
In 1800 Bainbridge was promoted to the rink of captain. On the frigate George Washington he sailed to the Dey of Algiers with presents. These "presents" were bribes which the United States paid to the Algerian pirates to secure exemption from capture for its merchant ships in the Mediterranean. Bainbridge was disgusted at having to pay the tributes. While his ship was at Algiers war was declared by the pirates against France, and the French consul and citizens were ordered to leave the country in forty-eight hours. Captain Bainbridge received them all on his ship and landed them safely.
When the United States found that bribes to the pirates did not protect their commerce, they decided to use force. Captain Bainbridge was given command of the frigate Philadelphia, and sailing to Algiers, blockaded Tripoli. Being driven from his cruising grounds, Bainbridge pursued a strange ship that was trying to break the blockade. He gave chase, but ran upon a reef on the morning of October 31, 1803. The pirates immediately attacked, and when the ship could no longer be defended they captured and scuttled her, imprisoning the officers and crew. After a treaty of peace between the Dey and the United States had been concluded, the Americans were released on February 3, 1805.
Captain Bainbridge returned for a time to the merchant service, but when the War of 1812 broke out, he was appointed to command the United States frigate Constitution. In this ship he captured two British frigates and many merchantmen. On his return he was received with an enthusiastic welcome by his countrymen. The Constitution became an object of national pride, and because of the little damage it sustained in the numerous encounters in which it engaged, received the popular name of "Old Ironsides."
After the conclusion of the War of 1812, Bainbridge once more served against the Barbary pirates. Later he served on the board of navy commissioners. Commodore Bainbridge died in Philadelphia on July 28, 1833.
PREPARED BY THE EDITORIAL STAFF OF THE MENTOR ASSOCIATION
ILLUSTRATION FOR THE MENTOR. VOL. 4, No. 3, SERIAL No. 103
COPYRIGHT, 1916, BY THE MENTOR ASSOCIATION, INC.
OLIVER HAZARD PERRY
Monograph Number Five in The Mentor Reading Course
Oliver Hazard Perry was born at South Kensington, Rhode Island, on August 23, 1785. His father was Christopher Raymond Perry, captain in the navy. His first position was that of a midshipman on the sloop of war General Greene, in 1798. The first action that he saw was against the Barbary pirates. In this war he secured the affection and respect of the officers and men in the squadron.
In 1810 he was a lieutenant-commandant in the schooner Revenge. This vessel was attached to the squadron under Commodore Rodgers, and was employed in Long Island Sound to uphold the embargo which the United States had at that time put upon trade with England and France.
Shortly after, the war with England began. Perry was placed in command of a flotilla at Newport, but was not pleased with this commission, and begged to be ordered to Lake Ontario. His wish was granted, and he and his men—who eagerly volunteered to go with him—re-inforced Commodore Chauncey on the Great Lakes.
When he arrived at Lake Ontario, however, Chauncey ordered Perry to Lake Erie to superintend the building of vessels. The English had a powerful force on the Great Lakes and the United States wanted to build sufficient ships to meet them. Perry worked hard, and on August 4, 1813, he got his squadron into the deep waters of Lake Erie. This squadron consisted of three brigs, five schooners, and one sloop. On the 10th of September Perry met the British fleet with Captain Robert H. Barclay in command in the Battle of Put-in Bay. This was the great fight of Perry's life, and he fought it with skill, bravery and perseverance.
The effects of this victory were felt all over the United States. National pride was kindled and the people celebrated the victory with enthusiasm. In reward Perry was made a captain in the navy and received the thanks of Congress.
However, the gallant officer did not rest upon his laurels, and, seeing no more hostile fleets to conquer, offered himself as aid to General Harrison, who was then pursuing the British, and took part in the Battle of Moravian Town on October 5th. When Virginia and Maryland were invaded by the English, under General Ross and Admiral Cockburn, Perry had a command on the Potomac.
At the end of the War of 1812 Captain Perry took command of the Java, a frigate of the first class, and sailed with Commodore Stephen Decatur to punish the Dey of Algiers, who had plundered the commerce of the United States when this country was busy during the war of 1812. This expedition, which reached the Mediterranean in June, 1815, was successful, and Perry returned to the United States. While the Java was lying at Newport in mid-winter, he received information that a merchant vessel was on a reef about five or six miles from that place, and that the crew were in danger. Leaping into his barge he turned to his oarsmen and said, "Come, my boys, we are going to the relief of shipwrecked seamen; pull away!" The eleven men of the crew were rescued.
In 1819 Perry was sent in the John Adams to the West Indies with sealed orders. Pirates had swarmed in that vicinity, and his commission was to drive them from the sea. He executed his orders with diligence, but unfortunately caught yellow fever and died on August 23, 1819, at Port of Spain, in Trinidad. Every tribute of national grief was paid to his memory, and he was buried with military honors.
PREPARED BY THE EDITORIAL STAFF OF THE MENTOR ASSOCIATION
ILLUSTRATION FOR THE MENTOR, VOL. 4, No. 3, SERIAL No. 103
COPYRIGHT, 1916, BY THE MENTOR ASSOCIATION, INC.