Primary Source: Debating War with Britain: Against the War

The document here is an opinion piece in the Carolina Federal Republican of Raleigh, published just after Congress declared war on Great Britain in 1812. Newspapers at that time were partisan, meaning that they openly supported one party or the other. The Carolina Federal Republican was a Federalist paper, and so it supported the policies of that party and opposed those of the President, James Madison — including the war.

The returns from all the Counties of the State of New-York except two, give to the Federalists a majorityThe president in 1812 was James Madison, a Democratic-Republican, and the newly elected members to the New York state assembly were from the opposing party, the Federalists. The Democratic-Republicans were in favor of war with Britain, while Federalists opposed it. Federalists supported trade and commerce, and war with Britain would certainly hurt trade with European nations. The author is arguing that New Yorkers elected a Federalist majority to their legislature because they opposed the war. of twenty one in the House of Representatives of the State Legislature.

The sums subscribed to the Eleven Millions LoanThe United States government needed to borrow money in order to go to war. One way the government tried to do this was to make “subscriptions” or bonds available for people to buy. To buy bonds, people gave money to the government and received a piece of paper which guaranteed that the government would repay the sum with interest. It was not a successful strategy, and the government failed to raise enough money for the war effort. Eventually, Congress had to pass new taxes, which were very unpopular., opened on the first instant, in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, fall below four millions of dollars — With all that Virginia, and the States south of her can do, half the sum asked for will not be subscribed.

What stronger evidence can be given of the preference of the People of Peace over War, and of Free Trade over Embargo? — At every Election by the people since the War and Embargo projects of the present Congress have been brought forward, the DemocraticThe President’s party called themselves Democratic-Republicans, or sometimes just Republicans, but the opposition Federalists usually referred to them as Democrats. Since the United States was a republic, to be a republican was simply to believe in that form of government — which everyone considered a good thing. Democrat, however, suggested (to some people) giving far too much power to the people, letting them run wild. The Federalists thus used the term democratic in a negative way. Candidates have been rejected: — And in States where twenty millions are eagerly offered to subscriptions for Banks, one fourth of that sum is refused to the Democratic AdministrationBanks were refusing to loan the government money..

These are gratifying proofs of the returning virtue and good sense of the people, — Determined no longer to be led blindfold, they will judge for themselves of the conduct of their agents, will dismiss from their service, their democratic representatives who have abused their confidence, and once again under the benign influence of the princples of WASHINGTONAs President in the 1790s, George Washington kept the United States neutral in the conflict between France and Great Britain. He had believed that neutrality was the safest policy for the young nation, and also that it was wisest for the U.S. to stay out of European affairs., our affairs will be prosperous and our people happy.


Credit text

Carolina Federal Republican (Raleigh), May 16, 1812.