Leap Day and the War of 1812
- Happy Leap Day, list!
If 1812 and 1816 were leap years, then the War of 1812 was fought between the "leap days" in them. In any event, the War lasted well under 4 years. Which got me thinking - should it have lasted even that long?
By the start of the 1813 campaign season, Napoleon had taken a hammering in Russia and was clearly in big trouble. By the end of 1813, he had taken another gigantic hammering in Germany, and had been pushed back to the French side of the Rhine. The window of opportunity to administer a spanking to the Brits while they were embroiled in the European war that had existed in the spring of 1812 was clearly shutting down fast.
The question is - why did the U.S. choose to keep on fighting through 1814? Was the Niagara 1814 campaign a calculated risk - to occupy a larger part of Upper Canada, and hope that this land could be kept in a subsequent peace? Or, was it merely to redeem American honor on the battlefield? Or was there any real thought given to ultimate war aims when this last American offensive campaign was decided upon?
Secondary question: if the Americans had put out peace feelers in the winter of 1813, would the war have likely ended at that point?
- I suspect that both sides felt they needed to negotiate from a position
of strength. Hence the repeated invasions and British harrassing actions along
the coast. However, both sides had begun to put out peace feelers almost
immediately, recognizing that the issues could be negotiated. Point of fact the
Tsar (ally of Britain and trading partner to the US) offered in March 1813 to
mediate. The British rejected the offer after dragging their heels for months.
Indeed the British attitude once face-to-face negotiations began might be summed
up in an editorial from the London Times, "Our demands may be couched in a
Both negotiation teams carefully skirted the issue of impressment and instead
focused on a series of impossible demands. Like the US giving up fishing rights
in British waters and return of Louisiana to Spain. We on the other hand
demanded Britain give up Upper Canada. No wonder the negotiations dragged on so
long at the cost of so many lifes.
Consider too the time lag from Europe. As late as August, 1813 the Allies
offered Napoleon the natural borders of France and allowing him to stay on the
throne. It wasn't until Leipzig in October and the wholesale defection of the
Confederation of the Rhine that the die was truly cast IMHO. Since the outcome
of Leipzig might not be known till Christmas, the continued aggression might be
Just my thoughts/reactions. Some of the above from The War of 1812 by Miriam
No act of kindness, however small is ever wasted. -- Aesop
--- In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com, Michael Mathews <memathews@...> wrote:
[snip] Point of fact the Tsar (ally of Britain and trading partner to the US) offered in March 1813 to mediate. The British rejected the offer after dragging their heels for months.
Given the Tsar's relatively recent diplomatic switch from being Napoleon's pal to being his mortal enemy, perhaps the Autocrat of the Russias wasn't the best choice of "neutral" mediator to the British.
Even more surprising would have been if he was acceptable to the US... I say that given the fact that as Michael as pointed out, in 1813 Russia was indeed a British ally and receiving massive subsidies, arms shipments, etc. from the British.
It would have been unusual indeed to have an autocratic despot negotiating a deal between two "democratic" nations (at least, they each held elections every now and then, and even if substantial portions of the potential electorate didn't yet have the vote, the governments were accountable to a substantial part of the population...).
Dumb question, but I find I don't know the answer to what would seem to be a very basic question off the top of my head: did women already have the vote in the U.S. at this time period? If pressed to guess, I'd say "no".
- You guessed correctly. American women won the right to
vote in 1920. Though women were voting in the
Wyoming Territory in 1869.
Canada gave women the vote nationwide in 1917.
(Widows and unmarried women were granted the right
to vote in municipal elections in Ontario in 1884.)
did women already have the vote in the U.S. at this time period? If pressed to guess, I'd say "no".
--- In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com
Jim: Given the Tsar's relatively recent diplomatic switch from being Napoleon's
pal to being his mortal enemy, perhaps the Autocrat of the Russias wasn't the
best choice of "neutral" mediator to the British.
Me: The honeymoon after the Treaty of Tilsit of 1807 was short-lived. By 1811
the Tsar openly defied the Continental System and threw open his ports to
British shipping. Hence the need, in Napoleon's mind, for war by 1812. As for
his autocratic stature, the British government didn't seem to have any issues
with supporting the Austrian Emperor, et. al. during the wars. They both went
to great pains to keep the Anglo-Russian "War" a phony one.
Jim: Even more surprising would have been if he was acceptable to the US... I
say that given the fact that as Michael as pointed out, in 1813 Russia was
indeed a British ally and receiving massive subsidies, arms shipments, etc. from
Me: The United States had been doing a great deal of business with Russia and
considered them a financial ally. So the Tsar had a motive for finding a quick
peace that would allow shipping to flow more easily to his ports. For
consideration I offer up: America, Russia, Hemp, and Napoleon: American trade
with Russia and the Baltic, 1783-1812 by Alfred Crosby. An oldie from 1965, but
fills a gap. From a purely practical standpoint too, arms going to Russia were
not coming to Canada.
Jim: It would have been unusual indeed to have an autocratic despot negotiating
a deal between two "democratic" nations (at least, they each held elections
every now and then, and even if substantial portions of the potential electorate
didn't yet have the vote, the governments were accountable to a substantial part
of the population...).
Me: The US didn't have an evangelistic attitude towards spreading democracy.
Look where that got the French. No, in my opinion is was all about the money
and getting a free hand. I don't see history supporting the democracy v
autocracy standoff. The Tsar and Emperor of Japan allowed Teddy Roosevelt to
negotiate the end to their war, even though he couldn't understand the "needs of
empire." If you have someone with influence over both ready to help, it is
rather cold-blooded to spurn it over theoretical differences. Unless you had an
agenda, like punishing your enemy.
Jim: Dumb question, but I find I don't know the answer to what would seem to be
a very basic question off the top of my head: did women already have the vote in
the U.S. at this time period? If pressed to guess, I'd say "no".
Me: As others have noted, not for another century. The original question may
come down to something as simple as the old saying, "in for a penny, in for a
pound." Having invested money and men, the US may have felt a need to have
something to show for it. Of course in the end...
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- When Napoleon came to power, he used the hard currency provided by Thomas Jefferson from the sale of Louisiana to build up a channel army to invade Britain. But the French defeat at Trafalgar in 1805 dashed his hopes. Continually frustrated by the British blockade, and looking for a way to weaken Britain's 1000 ship Royal Navy, Bonaparte turned to Czar Alexander of Russia for a solution.
Why? For one reason only: almost 90% of the British Navy's hemp fibre for cordage, sails, thread and tarred oakum came from Russia.
Jefferson and Madison were concerned that American ships were heavily involved in the Russian hemp trade. In 1809, John Quincy Adams (a future US President), who was American Consul at St. Petersburg, noted:
"As many as 600 clipper ships, flying the American flag, in a two-week period, were in Kronstadt" (the Port of St. Petersburg) loading principally hemp for England.
Czar Alexander promised to stop trade with Britain, but Napoleon soon found that the Czar's promises meant nothing. The infuriated Emperor of France then turned his army toward Moscow, to topple the Czar and install a new regime.
The only reason Napoleon took such a risk in invading Russia was his desperate need to cripple the Royal Navy by starving it the wherewithal of sails and ropes. He knew very well that hemp was Britain's Achilles heel; each British frigate had to replace 50 to 100 tons of cordage and sails after a year and a half of use.
Each country had to make sure they had their own supply because, during wartime, hemp supplies were often cut off to punish the enemy. France did not have this problem. With 800,000 acres under cultivation, the French had enough hemp fibre for their own uses.
The British managed their problem nicely by capturing American clipper ships and then giving the captains an offer they could not refuse: they would be allowed to keep their ship and cargo if they agreed to trade their rum, sugar, spices, cotton, coffee and tobacco to the Russians in exchange for hemp. The British would advance half the cost of the hemp, in gold, and pay the Americans the balance on delivery of the hemp the British shipyards. Most captains wisely chose profit over confiscation.
- Prior to the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920, women had the vote in various states and cities for various elections. In some areas, for example, women could vote in municipal elections, but none other. In America's federal system, women's votes, like many other issues, were the subject of experiments at the state and local levels before national adoption.
It is said that, in the 1912 presidential election, Progressive Theodore Roosevelt did better in states that permitted women to vote. This may reflect the impact of the women's votes, but more likely just that more progressive states would give women the vote and vote for TR.