New Hampshire Political Speeches, War of 1812-1814, Transcriptions

Collection number: MS 246
Size: (1 item) (0.10 cu.ft.)

About the Elections of 1812 and 1814

During the elections of 1812 and 1814 feelings ran high in Federalist New England on the subject of President James Madison’s imposition of an embargo on American shipping and Congress’s declaration of war against Great Britain. The governors of Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts refused to allow the federalization of their state militias in order to fight outside their state borders. Many Congressional politicians who voted for the war in June of 1812 were voted out of office in the fall election. New Hampshire was no different in this respect, replacing its delegation to Washington with members of the Federalist party, in opposition to Madison’s Democratic Republicans.

About the New Hampshire Political Speeches

The two speeches, both undated and uncredited, one supporting and one opposing President James Madison and the War of 1812, bear witness to the heatedness of the debate in New Hampshire and document the campaign rhetoric then being used. The first, written during the run-up to the November election of 1812, was undoubtedly composed by a Federalist candidate. Its opening words directly address the pressing issue of militias and he goes on to heap scorn on those who support the war: “But I think my opponants [sic], words & action, will correspond very well with Mr. Madisons [sic], all very fond of having the war carried on if some body else will do all the fighting.” He continues later in the speech, “all who prefer peace to war, prosperity to ruin, & constitutional freedom to a military despotism, will do all they can to prevent the militia being cary’d out of their own state by force.”

The second speech can be dated after August 24-25, 1814, when the British burned Washington, D.C. It begins, “Awake my friends from this drowsy tone, that cries peace, peace, when there shall be no peace.” The writer reminds his audience of British aggression and the atrocities they have performed: “…takeing [sic] Americans & hanging them up by the neck, & cutting them down & throwing their bowels in their faces. ..&…[encouraging] the Ingens to kill us, by giving them a large price for American scalps.” There is some indication, by his use of an extended agricultural metaphor, that he may have been addressing a rural audience.

The same anonymous hand transcribed both speeches with crude colloquial spelling; they are clearly not copied verbatim from a newspaper or pamphlet. And because the hand is hasty, it is possible that they were copied down on the actual occasion of the speeches.

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Preferred Citation

New Hampshire Political Speeches, 1812-1814, MS 246, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham, NH, USA.

Acquisitions Information

Purchased: Ian Brabner, dealer, Wilmington, DE (Accession number: 2011.30)