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motive for discontent resulted from the Indian situation. Steadily since 1796 the pioneer had pressed into the wilderness, steadily the government had made broad his way by contriving one purchase of Indian land after another. The Indians, grumbling, had yielded to necessity; but dissatisfaction grew among them, and recently had resulted in combination to resist encroachment. Under the leadership of two brothers, Tecumseh, the war chief, and Olliwochica,
the prophet, the beginnings of a confederacy The Indians
were formed, the leaders conceiving of a union not only of the northern tribes but also between the northern and southern groups. In 1811 war began in the battle of Tippecanoe, near the Wabash.
That the Indian hostility was encouraged by the British, and that the latter would aid the savages in the coming war, British and In
was firmly believed by the sanest heads on
the frontier. William Henry Harrison, governor of Indiana territory and in command at Tippecanoe, said that he could always tell the state of relations between United States and Great Britain by the behavior of the Indians. Great Britain's policy was actually not different from that pursued during Washington's administration. There was on the part of the government no incitement to hostility; rather, the effort was to keep the peace. On the other hand, it maintained, though not entirely of its own choice, relations with the Indians which, considering the fact that these tribes were within the limits of the United States, were not compatible with any principle of international comity. Moreover, as was natural on so wild a frontier, its control over its own agents and subjects was so lax that it was sometimes involved by their acts in complications for which it was not directly responsible but which it was by its international duty required to prevent.
The British subjects concerned in these relations were nearly all fur-traders. Scotch, French-Canadians, English, and half-breeds, they led lives of the most unfettered free
dom, with the exception of an almost complete economic dependence upon the two great British companies, the Hudson Bay, and the Northwestern. Together these Fur-trade ricompanies dominated the whole region west- valries ward from Lake Michigan, including what is now Wisconsin and the upper reaches of the Mississippi and the Missouri. Wide as was the area, its paths, the rivers and trails, were none too numerous, and the traders of the two companies were continually encountering each other, as well as the rivals of both, the Americans. The latter had hitherto not been so well organized as the British subjects; but of late the American Fur Company, of which John Jacob Astor was the leading spirit, had been bringing order out of chaos. Astor's imperial plans were now taking the form of establishing a permanent settlement on the Pacific coast. He engaged experts from the Northwestern Company, and in 1811 founded the post of Astoria on the Columbia. This distant enterprise did not, however, diminish the rivalry nearer home. From St. Louis and Michilimackinac went forth better and better equipped bands of American traders, who competed with those sent out by the British companies. The emulation in the forests and plains was transmitted, with the skins, to Montreal and to New York, which supplied the capital for the expeditions and for the establishment of the posts, and which competed in the disposal of the furs. Relatively the British were losing ground; they asked for government support; they bemoaned the influence of the United States government factories which had been established at Washington's behest. To the American frontiersmen, their own government seemed inert and spineless as compared with that of Great Britain, and particularly they protested at the free use of American soil which the British companies enjoyed under the Jay treaty. This growing rivalry was temporarily embittered by the fall in the price of furs as a result of the European wars. The pressure for assistance was equally strong upon both governments, but
it was most effective at this time in strengthening the call for war from the American frontier.1
It is not to be supposed that the purpose of the virile West was purely self-defence. To north, to west, to south, Conquest of it felt nothing stronger than itself, except the Canada
bonds of the United States government which held it in. It strained at the leash. It felt competent, if left alone, to settle all its difficulties in the completest manner by wiping out opposition. It wished merely permission to use its strength. February 22, 1810, Henry Clay said to the Senate: “The conquest of Canada is in your power, I trust I shall not be deemed presumptuous when I state that I verily believe that the militia of Kentucky are alone competent to place Montreal and Upper Canada at your feet.”
The new national spirit, thus directed by the West, swept the administration fluttering before it. The breeze was fanned,
to be sure, by some new episodes, such as the War declared
encounter in 1811 of the President and the Little Belt, in which the former avenged our navy for the maltreatment of the Chesapeake by the Leopard, and the publication by Congress in 1812 of the papers of John Henry, a British secret agent; but these things counted little. On April 1, 1812, in a secret message, Madison recommended an embargo preparatory to war. On June 1 he recommended war, and on July 18 Congress accepted the recommendation.
England at the eleventh hour sought to preserve peace. She sent over the comparatively agreeable Augustus John England's ef
Foster. Apology and reparation for the fort for peace
Leopard-Chesapeake affair were at length arranged. On June 16 the recall of the orders was voted by Parliament. Madison, however, deemed this insufficient. He demanded assurance that blockades should not be made
Washington Irving, Astoria, 2 vols., Philadelphia, 1836; H. M. Chittenden, The American Fur Trade of the Far West, 3 vols., New York, 1902; The Fur-trade in Wisconsin, Wisconsin Hist. Soc., Collections, 1911, vol. xx.
to do the duty of the orders, that the enforcement of English blockades off the American coast should cease, and that the impressment of seamen should be suspended, pending a treaty which should settle the matter definitively. In the election of 1812 the country supported Madison by reëlecting him. It is noticeable that the commercial states voted
Causes of war against him, protesting at this final attempt of an administration of agriculturists to protect our commercial interests. The West solidly supported him. The causes of the war were not Great Britain's failure to agree with us as to the position of neutrals, nor did they spring from the jockeying of Napoleon; they lay rather in the national anger roused by twenty years' disregard of our neutral rights. It was not detailed arguments, but accumulated woes, that moved the “War Hawks” of the East, while those of the West felt the added impulse to obtain a free hand for the settlement of their own problems.
UNTIL the spring of 1814 Great Britain did not blockade the coast north of Cape Cod. In part this forbearance may
have been due to a hope, based upon the reGreat Britain and New Eng- ports of secret agents like John Henry and
John Howe, her consuls, and Jackson her minister, that the discontent of that region might find expression in separation from the United States. It was true that its leading men doubted whether they could forever endure a government so distasteful in its policies; and their anger mounted higher when, in this supreme moment of the contest between Napoleon representing the forces of revolution, and England the supporter of order, the administration threw its weight into what they believed was the wrong scale. Their view was expressed by Pickering's toast to Jackson in 1810, “The world's last hope,-Britain's fastanchored isle.” This feeling extended to heckling the government, and later to action looking toward a break-up of the Union; but it did not reach the point of treating with the national enemy, nor did it prevent New England from doing its fair share in the war.?
Great Britain did not lose by her leniency, however, and probably her motive was less political than commercial. The
West Indies and the armies in Canada needed War trade
supplies, and New England could furnish them, and did. As, in the wars between England and France when we were colonies, our ship-captains helped supply the French
1“Secret Reports of John Howe, 1808,” Amer. Hist. Review, 1911-12, xvii. 70-102, 332–354; see also Paullin and Paxson, Guide,“ Lady Jackson Papers.” 2 Edmund Quincy, Life of Josiah Quincy (Boston, 1867), 242-306.