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cal memoir to three ponderous octavos, as Boswell has the Life of Johnson, he might detail the numerous minor incidents of Com. Decatur’s peculiarly interesting life, in the pleasing and interesting scenes of peace. In those charming scenes, he imparted high animation, and innocent hilarity to every circle he honoured by his presence. Although the gentleman officer upon the quarter-deck, he was “all the gentleman” in the parlour. He was easy, frank, and accessible as a companion, and resorted to every familiarity not inconsistent with personal dignity, to banish that reserve which a consciousness of his superiority inspired in his associates. In those placid scenes, he seemed to wish for every one who surrounded him, to forget what he had been, and to regard him only for what he there was. But the subject paramount to all other considerations in the mind of Com. Decatur, was, that of the American Navy. Of that he never lost sight; and he considered every other enjoyment, amusement; and pleasure, as secondary to those he partook in, when advancing its prowess and seeing its glory augmented. It was not his business to “settle the affairs of the Republic”,” which at this period of his life began to assume a lowering aspect; and he knew too well the duty of a naval commander, to interfere in them. He only waited for the orders of his govern:
ment, and held himself in constant readiness to execute them. The Berlin and Milan decrees of the Emperor of France, and the Orders in Council of the court of St. James, produced a tremendous effect upon the vastly extended commerce of America. They amounted almost to a war of extermination against American commerce, and the wreck of it which remained, was sunk by the embargo laid by Congress upon American vessels. The “restrictive system,” was justified by its advocates upon the principle of Ilex Talionis, or the law of retaliation. What effect it produced upon the commerce of the Republic, or what coercion upon its enemies, has been demonstrated by its operation. From 1807 to 1812, America could hardly be said to be at peace or at war with the great belligerent powers of Europe. Good cause for open hostilities it had against more than one of them; but the pacific policy of our rulers chose to exhaust the last efforts of JNegotiation, before they resorted to the last evil, a War. But the causes for war between America and Britain, were constantly accumulating; and, like the latent fires of Ætna and Vesuvius, increased in malignity the longer they were suppressed. Britain at this period was not only the greatest, but almost the only naval power in Europe. Nelson had not only conquered, but he had nearly annihilated the fleets of France, Spain and Denmark; and the only reason why that of the powerful Autocrat of Russia did not suffer the same fate, was, because his wary policy dictated to him not to expose it to certain destruction. Although distant nations scarcely ranked America with naval powers, yet the proud and jealous Ministers of George III. full well knew what the infant Navy of the Republic had accomplished in the Atlantic, at the close of the eighteenth, and in the Mediterranean, at the commencement of the nineteenth century. The names of Truxton, Preble and Decatur reminded them of their own Duncan, Jervis and Nelson. Although the British government could not obliterate the fame of these American naval heroes, they wished to annihilate the little Navy in which they had acquired it. Hence the rude and outrageous attack upon the frigate Chesapeake, which Decatur now commanded, but which he did not command when she surrendered. Although the British government diplomatically disavowed the act, and tendered satisfaction and atonement, yet it secretly rejoiced that she became such an easy victim. Her naval commanders imagined that her fate was the forerunner of that of every deck that carried American guns. Next to the American Navy, amongst the causes of British jealousy, was the almost boundless extent of American commerce. Americans for some years had been the carriers of almost all the belligerent powers in Europe; and although Britain herself participated in the benefit of this “carrying
trade,” she could not endure that the Republic should rapidly grow rich and powerful by means of it. Com. Decatur, while in the Chesapeake frigate as commander of the Southern Squadron, had the double duty of watching British armed ships constantly hovering upon the American coast, and enforcing the acts of the government regarding Ameris can vessels.
Commodore Decatur takes command of the Frigate United States— Interview with Capt. John Surnam Carden, in time of peace— British Naval Officers on American station before the commencement of War—Declaration of War against G. Britain—Immense disparity of naval force between America and Britain—Com. Decatur puts to sea from New-York, June 21st, 1812—Makes an extensive cruise and enters the port of Boston—Sails from thence 8th October—Upon the 25th captures the Frigate MACEDoNIAN —His official account of the action—Length of, and incidents in the action—Meeting of Com. Decatur and Capt. Carden— Dreadful slaughter in the Macedonian—Arrival of frigate United States and that ship at New-London—Reception of Flag at Washington—Arrival at New-York—Reception there—Com. Decatur's humanity.
CoM. Decatur, in 1816, was ordered to take command of the frigate United States, which was again fitted for sea, and put in commission. Exhilirating indeed must have been the reflection, that he was now sole commander of the noble Frigate in which he commenced his naval career in the humble capapacity of Midshipman. A retrospective view of the scenes through which he had passed—the variety of vessels in which he had served and conquered—the numerous commanders whom he had assiduously obeyed and supported, were calculated to produce in his mind the most complacent delight.—At the same time, a glance into futurity excited his deepest