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Title: Battle of New Orleans - Its Real Meaning
Author: Folk, Reau Estes
Language: English
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                         BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS
                            ITS REAL MEANING

             Exposure of Untruth Being Taught Young America

_Concerning the Second Most Important Military Event in the Life of the

                           _By_ Reau E. Folk,
 _Chairman Tennessee Commission of Research as to the True Value of the
                        Victory at New Orleans._


                     _This Volume Is Dedicated To:_

     _The State of Tennessee, which authorized the Investigation;_

    _The Ladies’ Hermitage Association, charged with primary duty of
 preserving the home of Andrew Jackson, whose military genius, courage,
  and patriotism saved the nation in the second War of Independence;_

_The Descendants of the Soldiers who fought at New Orleans, whose memory
                    should always be cherished; and_

_The noble band of School Teachers everywhere, whose high impulse is to
                           impart the truth._

                                                         _REAU E. FOLK._

_Nashville, Tenn._

                     Copyright, 1935, Reau E. Folk

      Published by Ladies’ Hermitage Association, Nashville, Tenn.
                            Limited Edition
            Cullom & Ghertner, Publishers, Nashville, Tenn.

                           COMMISSION REPORT

Below is given report to the Governor of Tennessee by the author of this
volume as chairman of the authorized Tennessee Committee of Research.
Attached are letters of concurrence from two of his associate members.
The remaining member is out of the country. Documents have been sent to
him, but at the time of this printing sufficient time has not elapsed to
hear from him. In a later edition his comments will be given.

                          NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE
           To His Excellency, The Honorable Hill McAllister,
                         Governor of Tennessee.


The General Assembly of Tennessee of 1927 adopted the following joint

WHEREAS, the Battle of New Orleans, fought on January 8, 1815, is one of
the outstanding military events of American History; and,

WHEREAS, the memory of the great American victory achieved there, is
especially cherished by Tennesseans because of Andrew Jackson, and the
other Tennesseans who therein immortalized themselves; and,

WHEREAS, school histories, adopted for and taught in our schools, convey
the impression that the battle was a needless one in that it occurred
fifteen days after the Treaty of Peace had been signed at Ghent,
Belgium, by the Commissioners representing the United States and
England; and,

WHEREAS, serious criticism is made that such textbooks present an
erroneous appraisement of the value of the battle, by omitting the
reference to an essential fact, to-wit: that England did not construe
the Peace Treaty of Ghent as applicable to Louisiana, for the reason
that she held as invalid the title of the United States to that Domain,
conveyed by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1803; and,

WHEREAS, it is of prime importance that our school children should
receive every essential truth from historical textbooks, and especially
those textbooks placed in the hands of Tennessee students should portray
in its true significance the Battle of New Orleans in which the
ancestors of so many were engaged; now,

THEREFORE, be it resolved by the Senate, the House of Representatives
concurring, that the Governor be, and is hereby empowered and
authorized, to appoint five, or in discretion seven, persons of known
historical knowledge and research, who shall constitute a Commission,
charged with the duty of carefully examining the authorities, touching
the true value of the Battle of New Orleans, fought January 8, 1815;

Said Commission shall incorporate its conclusions and recommendations in
a report to the Governor who shall transmit the same to the Legislature.

Under the above resolution the following were appointed: Reau E. Folk,
Chairman; John Trotwood Moore; John H. DeWitt; Claude G. Bowers; John S.

The chairman, by reason of partial business retirement, has been able to
devote himself assiduously to the research work involved. The result of
his research, compiled into a small volume, accompanies this report.

At the outset the writer wishes to say he has had no opportunity for
conference with the full Commission, but has had the benefit of
consultation with Messrs. Moore and DeWitt, both of whom were very
co-operative. The first named, the late John Trotwood Moore, State
Historian, condensed his conclusion into a sentence, which is here given
because he is no longer with us to speak for himself. He said: “The
Battle of New Orleans saved the Louisiana Purchase, or another war with
England.” Judge John H. DeWitt, President of the Tennessee Historical
Society, has given much valuable and sympathetic aid.

The small volume herewith submitted gives exact quotations concerning
the Battle of New Orleans from all histories under adoption as textbooks
for the public schools of Tennessee. All of these present the same
viewpoint, to-wit: that the battle was an unnecessary one; that it was
fought after peace had been made. These researches show conclusively
that all these books are in error. The battle was NOT fought after

These researches have uncovered a startling, astounding fact—startling
and astounding because that fact has been consistently ignored or
overlooked by historians. That fact appears in the wording of the Ghent
Treaty itself, which says in plain language that peace shall be
effective when the treaty shall have been ratified by both sides! It was
ratified by the United States February 17, 1815, forty days after the
Battle of New Orleans!

Hence it must be patent to all that the statement, that the battle
occurred after peace made so persistently by historians, is an obvious
untruth, based on false assumption of fact. The wording of the treaty,
appearing in the volume herewith, has been verified from the treaty
itself on file in the State Department at Washington.

If the issue of the battle had been different, it is a matter for fair
speculation as to whether or not the treaty would have been ratified by
the United States. The Administration would have been torn between the
ominous threats of the northeastern states on the one hand, and on the
other by British occupancy of the vast territory west of the Mississippi
River, with civil government set up. Happily this grave situation was
averted by the great victory, news of which reached Washington ten days
before the treaty.

In the volume herewith there is presented well authenticated evidence
leading to the irresistable deduction that it was England’s purpose
after capturing to retain the great Louisiana Domain, on the ground of
the invalidity of the U. S. title acquired from Napoleon in 1803. Among
other indications of England’s attitude there are exhibited copies of
records during the negotiations at Ghent taken from the archives of the
State Department at Washington.

The chairman, as the compiler of the volume referred to, hopes it will
be carefully read by all interested in truth of history, not only in
Tennessee, but in the nation.

The writer, in obedience to the Legislative resolution under which he
was appointed, herewith asks leave to report as his findings as to the
true value of the Battle of New Orleans the following:

1st: It did not occur after peace as erroneously is stated by school and
other histories; it occurred during a state of war between the United
States and England;

2nd: It was a necessary battle, made so by the aggressions of England;
in addition to its national necessity, it was as necessary as would be
the defense by a citizen of his home and family from marauders;

3rd: It was a major military event in the life of the Republic, second
only to Yorktown;

4th: It saved the Louisiana Purchase, or prolongation of existing war,
or another war with England; or acquiescense in the Mississippi River as
our western boundary;

5th: It established wholesome respect of U. S. sovereignty by Great
Britain, marking the last armed conflict between these two powers,
between which a solid peace has existed ever since;

6th: It created profound impression throughout the world, with
consequent greater respect and security of the Republic among her sister

7th: It restored national self respect, then at its lowest ebb.

In submitting the result of this research the writer earnestly
recommends to the Governor and the General Assembly that proper and
decisive steps be taken to the end that our school children may be
taught the truth as to the value of the great victory in which
Tennesseans of another age played a leading part, and which contributed
so much to the destinies of the nation.

                                               Reau E. Folk, _Chairman_,
         _Authorized Commission of Research as to Value of Battle of New

                                                      December 12, 1934.

My Dear Mr. Folk:

I have carefully read and considered the report which you, as Chairman
of the Commission appointed in 1927 to examine the authorities as to the
true value of the Battle of New Orleans, are about to make to the
Governor of Tennessee. Hitherto I have had the privilege of conferring
with you from time to time concerning the important historical question
involved in the investigation.

I have also read carefully the treatise prepared by you and which
accompanies your report to the Governor. It shows very thorough and
judicious investigation, and in my opinion very sound conclusions.

I fully concur with you in the conclusions stated in your report, as
well as the reasons therefor which you have therein set forth in lucid

I do trust that this valuable work which you have done will be properly
appreciated, and that the errors which have so persistently appeared in
the histories, particularly the school histories, will be duly
corrected, so that the fallacy that the Battle of New Orleans was a
useless battle and fought after the treaty of peace, will no longer be
accepted by anybody, and that truth will be known by all.

                           Yours very truly,
                                                         John H. DeWitt.


                                                      Tulane University,
                                                       New Orleans, La.,
                                                      December 22, 1934.

My Dear Mr. Folk:

I have read with attention your excellent report on the Battle of New
Orleans, to be submitted to the Governor of Tennessee, in conjunction
with the report of our commission on the subject. I have ventured to
indicate by question marks in two or three places phrases or statements
which I think could be changed to advantage. These, however, are merely
questions of verbiage, not of fact. In point of fact, I think you have
made a most interesting and important assemblage of the essential points
to be considered in connection with the Battle of New Orleans, and have
shown conclusively that the opinion so frequently expressed by
historians, that the battle was unnecessary, is a sentimental inaccuracy
which ought to be corrected. You have done a useful and important piece
of work, and I congratulate you upon its completion.

May I beg you to be good enough to favor me with a copy when the work is
printed? I should like to prepare a review of it for one of our local

                           Yours very truly,
                                                        John S. Kendall.

                         _Details of Research_

                             Crusade Sword.

 Voltaire, French Cynic, Is Quoted as Saying That History Is Made Up of
  Lies Agreed Upon. Here Is One Almost Agreed Upon, Now Overhauled and

                           Louisiana Domain.

The Louisiana spoken of in this volume refers to the great Louisiana
Domain purchased by President Jefferson from France in 1803. That
original Domain now comprehends all or most of sixteen states, as
follows: Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota,
Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South
Dakota, Washington and Wyoming.

                               CHAPTER I.
                  An Interview Containing an Outline.

It was the 8th of January. I sat down for lunch at a small table in a
Nashville hotel. Presently the head waiter conducted to a seat opposite
me a young man, seemingly about 22 years of age. He was a handsome,
wholesome looking young man, and had an air of self-reliance. He
impressed me at first sight as being a typical young American; at any
rate he was decidedly attractive to the narrator, whose grey head could
but reveal his advanced years.

While awaiting the lunches, a casual remark about the weather opened
conversation. A waiter brought an afternoon paper. On the front page was
a picture of Andrew Jackson, and big headlines over accounts of
celebrations in memory of the victory at New Orleans in 1815.

The young man, with the superiority of youthful knowledge, exclaimed:

“Why all this to-do about a battle which was a needless one? It was a
brilliant victory, and salved American pride at the time; but that is
now four generations in the past. We should not go on salving our pride
over a useless victory, and especially when it was over a country now
our strong and perpetual friend. We don’t need anything to boost our
pride any more. We are now the greatest nation on earth.”

While responding to the fervor in the young man’s last sentence, I felt
a kind of joy in his prelude, which I knew was based on history that I
knew to be false.

In brief explanation, let me say that for some years, I have been
engaged in research work as to the true value of the battle of New
Orleans, resulting in the conviction that the current appraisal in
school histories is entirely erroneous. I therefore welcomed the
opportunity to develop the truth to this typical young American. I
decided upon the gradual approach rather than a frontal attack, which
might result in amour propre resentment.

I said in a casual tone:

“Permit me to take issue with you. Suppose I should tell you that the
Battle of New Orleans was not a needless battle; that it was, in fact,
the second most important military event in the life of our republic?
Suppose I should say to you that it was not fought after peace, but
during war?”

The young man looked at me, first with a show of impatience, and then
with a tolerant air.

“My only answer,” he returned, “is that you haven’t read our modern
histories. I have. The Peace Treaty of Ghent was signed Christmas Eve,
1814. Sailing vessels were the quickest means of communication at that
time, and so it was more than six weeks before the news reached our
people. During that interim the Battle of New Orleans was fought. So you
see it was quite useless except as a contribution to American pride.”

“Have you read that treaty?” I asked.

“Sure,” he responded, “that is, I have read several reliable digests.
They all say the treaty was silent as to Impressment and Orders in
Council, which caused our declaration of war, and that it amounted to a
simple agreement to stop fighting and go back to the status before the

As I was calculating on my next move the young man resumed:

“We had a debate at school last year on the question, ‘Resolved, that
the United States won the War of 1812.’ I took the ground that it was a
draw, and my side won. So you can see that I am well posted on that

He had a polite, patronizing air, and this decided me upon a direct

“I thank you,” said I; “I have also closely studied the events of this
War of 1812. I have read some more or less superficial comments on the
Peace Treaty of Ghent. I have also read the Treaty itself, word by word.
In precise specific terms, that document stipulated that it was not to
be effective until ratified by both sides.”

The young man gave an inquiring look, and commented:

“That of course is important, if true.”

“It is true,” I replied. “You can verify the fact in fifteen minutes. A
few blocks from where we sit is a Carnegie Library in which you can find
a volume containing various treaties of the United States. The Treaty of
Ghent is among them. It is called the Treaty of Amity.”

“May I ask who you are?” questioned the young man, with a changed and
puzzled mien.

“I am a member of the Committee appointed by the State to make research
into the real value of the Battle of New Orleans.”

“I am delighted to know you,” said the young man. “I love to discuss
history, which reveals the foundation of our existing social structure.
There are some questions I would like to ask of you. First, since the
Treaty was eventually ratified, aren’t our historians while technically
wrong, in saying the Battle of New Orleans occurred after Peace, and was
a useless battle, really in the right, for the reason that the battle
really had no effect upon the Peace Treaty?”

“It is true,” I replied, “the Treaty adopted at Ghent, Dec. 24, 1814,
was ratified soon after its reception in Washington, and promulgated the
next day, Feb. 18, 1815. That was after the news of the victory at New
Orleans had reached Washington.

“But suppose the result at New Orleans had been different, would
President Madison have signed the Treaty?

“That is a real question for college debate. It is a question calculated
to bring sharply to the student the picture of the distracted condition
of our country at the time. By signing the treaty Madison would have
appeased the New England section, then in hostile and threatening
attitude, but at the same time would have faced the surrender of the
territory west of the Mississippi for all time, or faced future
negotiation or war. By refusing to sign, the President would have
prolonged the war with its uncertainties. At the same time he would have
confronted possible disunion through the open disaffection of the
northeastern states. The English government construed the disaffection
as a threat of secession.

“It was planned by that calculating government, as evidence shows, to
inveigle New England into a separate treaty in case after British
capture and occupation of New Orleans, Madison should refuse to ratify
the Ghent treaty. Thus, if the issue in that New Orleans affair had been
different, President Madison would have faced danger of disunion, on one
side or the other.

“It would be hard to conceive of a graver situation. All this was
averted, and gloriously averted, by the victory at New Orleans, the news
of which caused the treaty to be joyfully ratified.”

“Haven’t you overdrawn the picture?” asked the young man. “Isn’t it a
fact that the treaty provided for the return of all territory taken
during the war, so that, if the English had captured New Orleans they
would have given it up?”

“My dear young friend,” I replied, “I have not overdrawn the picture.
The mutual restoration clause provided that all territory, places and
possessions, taken by either, were to be returned at effective peace.
Bear in mind that England had never conceded the validity of our title
to the Louisiana Domain, and so if the carefully planned design to
capture it had been successful, England was in position to hold that she
did not regard it as a legal possession of the United States, and as not
subject to return under the Peace Treaty. It is a violence to
credibility to suppose that England, after finally dispatching the big
expedition against Louisiana, would within a few weeks thereafter, agree
to a peace treaty, recalling her troops from an anticipated successful
conquest. In the light of present knowledge, the peace proceedings show
a studied purpose to protect the expedition sent out to capture New
Orleans. The supposition, advanced by many historians, that if England
had captured New Orleans, she would have given it up, is a reflection
upon the intelligence of the English government of that period, and
really, ascribes to that government egregious asininity. Now, with all
of her blunders, England has never been asinine.”

The young man listened intently, gave an inhaled “Oh,” and then added:

“I begin to see; but there are some questions I want to ask. First, when
and why and how did this error get in history?”

“A natural inquiry,” I responded. “I cannot definitely answer, nor is a
definite answer vital. However, I will give one conjecture; Jackson
became a national figure as a result of the Battle of New Orleans. While
acclaimed by the masses, Jackson had many bitter enemies, some of them
in the history writing class. Prejudice may have caused disparagement of
the importance of the event upon which his national fame is founded. But
all that is of small importance beside the establishment of the actual
truth, that the battle was not fought after peace, but that it was
necessary to prevent England’s conquest of Louisiana. Thus, as I have
said before, the Battle was the second most important military event in
the life of the Republic.”

“Now my other questions,” said the young man; “why has such an error
been allowed to go unchallenged all these generations?”

“Another natural question,” I answered. “It is a question that must come
to every mind in approaching this matter of clarification. I am not able
to answer this question definitely, just as I was not able to answer
your other question with any degree of certainty. The answer is not
vital, except from the standpoint of the problem involved, of overcoming
the inertia of a long-enthroned lie. My conjecture is that the false
appraisal began when civil upheaval was imminent, and when most people
were thinking only of the present—a state of mind which was continued
for a long time. So the viewpoint of prejudice, unopposed, gradually
crept into accepted history. There have been, and are, students of
history adhering to the great fact that the Battle of New Orleans saved
the Louisiana purchase, or another war with England. But school
histories continue to purvey the false viewpoint to the youth of the
land. But ‘truth is mighty and will prevail,’ and the time has now

At this point a bell boy brought me a card, and I arose to bid goodbye
to my young friend, saying;

“They have come for me, to go to the Hermitage for the exercises being
held there today.”

The young man said:

“I wish it were so you could take me.”

I arranged to do so, very much pleased at this change in his attitude.

                              CHAPTER II.
            Containing a High Commission and an Indictment.

There is no nobler calling than that of the school teachers of America,
who are ministering to the instruction and development of the future
citizens and leaders of the Republic. These teachers are bound to be
deeply concerned when they find that through school histories furnished
them, they have been imparting a falsehood about an important event in
United States history—the Battle of New Orleans, fought January 8, 1815.
These school histories minimize the value of the battle, describing it
as needless, because fought after peace, when as a fact, the battle was
not fought after peace, and the victory, in fact, prevented a carefully
planned conquest of the then lately acquired Louisiana Domain, with all
the attendant, untoward complications, another war being one of them.

It is the purpose of this volume to show by reliable authorities, the
truth as to the value of this battle.

History, as is well known, is honey-combed with lies, originally
projected either in ignorance, prejudice or adulation. We are always
fortunate if able to arrest and correct one before too late.

The Legislature of Tennessee, at its session of 1927, adopted the
following resolution:

“WHEREAS, the Battle of New Orleans, fought on January 8, 1815, is one
of the outstanding military events of American History; and,

“WHEREAS, the memory of the great American victory achieved there, is
especially cherished by Tennesseans because of Andrew Jackson, and the
other Tennesseans who therein immortalized themselves; and,

“WHEREAS, school histories, adopted for and taught in our schools,
convey the impression that the battle was a needless one in that it
occurred fifteen days after the treaty of Peace had been signed at
Ghent, Belgium, by the Commissioners representing the United States and
England; and,

“WHEREAS, serious criticism is made that such textbooks present an
erroneous appraisement of the value of the battle, by omitting the
reference to an essential fact, to-wit: that England did not construe
the Peace Treaty of Ghent as applicable to Louisiana, for the reason
that she held as invalid the title of the United States to that Domain,
conveyed by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1803; and,

“WHEREAS, it is of prime importance that our school children should
receive every essential truth from historical textbooks, and especially
those textbooks placed in the hands of Tennessee students should portray
in its true significance the battle of New Orleans in which the
ancestors of so many were engaged; Now,

“THEREFORE, be it resolved by the Senate, the House of Representatives
concurring, that the Governor be, and is hereby empowered and
authorized, to appoint five, or in his discretion seven, persons of
known historical knowledge and research, who shall constitute a
Commission, charged with the duty of carefully examining the
authorities, touching the true value of the Battle of New Orleans,
fought January 8, 1815; and,

“Said Commission shall incorporate its conclusions and recommendations
in a report to the Governor who shall transmit the same to the

The present writer, who was appointed a member of the authorized
Committee, has been engaged in making research into the matter involved,
and has found facts, not hard of access, which should, and will, when
understood, force a radical revision of school histories in the version
they present as to the value of the New Orleans victory.

Other members of the Commission appointed by the Governor were: John H.
DeWitt, of Nashville, Judge of the Tennessee Court of Appeals and
president of the Tennessee Historical Society; John Trotwood Moore, of
Nashville, State Librarian and historian; Claude G. Bowers, New York,
author, historian, and editor—now ambassador to Spain; John S. Kendall,
of New Orleans, historian and professor in Tulane University.

It is the purpose of the writer, after submission for comment to his
distinguished fellow Committeemen, to make this volume the basis of
report to the Governor of Tennessee for transmission to the Legislature.

In order to present, in as simple a way as possible, the case, or the
indictment, for such it is, actual and authenticated excerpts are given
herewith from all the American histories prescribed for Tennessee Public
Schools by the State Text Book Commission.

These extracts were obtained from the office of the Secretary of State,
where under statute, copies of all adopted text books are kept.

                              CHAPTER III.
                      What School Histories Teach.

Here are the extracts from the Tennessee authorized school Histories:

School History of Tennessee: S. E. Scates, page 225:

“Though the battle resulted in great victory for the Americans, it was
sad indeed that so many brave men lost their lives at New Orleans quite
uselessly. At Ghent, Belgium, a treaty of peace for the war of 1812 had
been signed Christmas Eve, 1814. Because messages travelled so slowly,
by sailing vessels, news of peace did not reach New Orleans until after
the fighting had taken place.”

A History of American Government and Culture: Harold Rugg, page 192:

“Two weeks after the Treaty of Peace had been signed, another battle was
fought. This may seem strange to you, but in those days transportation
and communication was so slow that news of the making of peace reached
the country long after it had happened.”

History of the United States: Beard & Beard, page 238:

“The Treaty of Peace. Both countries were in truth sick of a war that
offered neither glory nor profit. So after an exchange of notes they
sent representatives to Ghent to discuss a settlement. Long negotiations
were finally ended by an agreement on Christmas Eve, 1814, a few days
before Jackson’s victory at New Orleans. When the treaty reached America
the people were surprised to find it said nothing about the seizure of
American sailors, the destruction of American trade, the searching for
American ships, or the support of Indians on the frontier. Nevertheless,
we are told, the public ‘passed from gloom to glory’ on the arrival of
the news of peace. Bells were rung; schools were closed; flags were
displayed; and many a rousing toast was drunk in taverns and private
homes. The rejoicing could continue. With Napoleon definitely beaten at
Waterloo in June, 1815, Great Britain had no more need to impress
sailors, search ships, and seize American goods bound to the Continent.
Once more the terrible sea power sank into the background and the ocean
was again white with the sails of merchantmen.”

History of the American People: Latane, page 284:

“Jackson’s brilliant victory at the Battle of New Orleans caused great
rejoicing throughout the country, but it did not affect the outcome of
the war, for the treaty of peace had been signed at Ghent two weeks
before it was fought. Its effect on the course of American history,
however, was far-reaching, for it brought the West into greater
prominence and made Andrew Jackson the military hero and political
leader of that section.”

A History of the People of the United States: Waddy Thompson, page 220:

“Treaty of Peace; Results of the War: The great victory of New Orleans
was won after peace had been made. A treaty had been signed at Ghent,
Belgium, on December 24, 1814. But as only sailing vessels then crossed
the ocean, and as about six weeks were required for the voyage, news of
peace did not reach America until February, 1815.”

First Book in United States History: Waddy Thompson, page 253:

“A Victory after Peace: Brilliant as was the victory at New Orleans, it
was won after peace had been made between the United States and Great
Britain. Both sides having become tired of the War, a treaty of peace
was signed in Belgium in December, 1814; while the Battle of New Orleans
was fought on January 8, 1815. Steamboats did not then cross the Ocean,
and no electric cable connected America with Europe, so news of the
treaty did not reach America until a month after the Battle of New

The American People: Muzzey, page 218:

“Jackson, henceforth, the ‘Hero of New Orleans’ was rewarded in the
following years by the command against the Indians of Florida (1817),
the governorship of Florida territory (1821); a seat in the United
States Senate (1823), and the Presidency of the United States (1829). If
the Atlantic cable had existed in 1814, it would have brought the news
of the treaty of peace in time to turn Pakenham’s expedition back from
the Mississippi, to prevent the bloodiest battle that had ever been
fought on American soil, and perhaps to keep from the pages of American
history the administration of the most masterful of our Presidents
between Washington and Lincoln.”

                              CHAPTER IV.
                    Falsehood Shown by the Records.

The unanimity of view presented by these extracts from Tennessee adopted
histories, gives justification for the assumption that the same view
obtains throughout the United States. In partial extenuation of school
historians and of Textbook Commissions, it may be said that they have
followed the lead of most generally recognized historians. But any
trusting follower of the pack leaders could have ascertained, without
much trouble, that the battle of New Orleans was NOT fought after peace.
It occurred fifteen days after the Treaty of Ghent had been signed by
the Commissioners of the two interested nations, but expressly, by the
terms of that treaty, it was not to be effective until ratified by both
sides and ratification exchanged in Washington.

Let us go to specific quotations. The Peace Treaty of Ghent, dated
December 24, 1814, contained, as its first sentence, the following
words: “All hostilities, both by sea and by land shall cease as soon as
this treaty shall be ratified by both parties as hereinafter mentioned.”

Article XI of the Treaty reads: “This Treaty, when the same shall be
ratified on both sides, without alteration by either of the contracting
parties, and the ratification mutually exchanged, shall be binding on
both parties; and the ratification shall be exchanged at Washington, in
the space of four months from this date, or sooner if practicable.”

Further, the record shows that ratification of the Treaty was advised by
the United States Senate, February 16, 1815; that it was ratified
February 17; and ratification exchanged the same day, and that it was
promulgated February 18th.

The Treaty of Ghent, called the Treaty of Amity, is preserved, of
course, among American State papers. A copy may be found in a public
library in a volume devoted to Treaties, Agreements, Etc. between the U.
S. A. and other Powers, Compiled by W. M. Maloy, Under Resolution of U.
S. Senate of Jan. 18, 1909.

A lawyer friend of the writer, with whom he discussed the situation,
suggested that while manifestly in error in representing the Battle as
having been fought after peace, that a plea in abatement might be
offered for the historians to the effect that the treaty was
subsequently ratified as written; that the Battle of New Orleans had no
effect upon the Treaty; that it further was needless because if its
issue had been different the British under the mutual restoration clause
of the Ghent Treaty would, upon promulgation of the Treaty, have
evacuated New Orleans and Louisiana.

That viewpoint is entitled to such consideration as should be given any
viewpoint based solely on assumption, but it and all such viewpoints
must be subjected to acid judgment based on co-related facts.

As to the first point above made, it is a matter of record that the
treaty was ratified quickly after reaching Washington; it is also a
matter of record that the news of the great American victory at New
Orleans reached the Capitol ten days before. As to the second point,
that the battle had no effect upon the treaty, a wide range of
discussion, based on records, is opened, which will be presented later.

As to the third point, that the battle was needless because, if
successful, the British would have evacuated New Orleans and Louisiana
upon promulgation of the Peace Treaty, it may be stated here that the
records which will be presently laid before the reader give decided
negation to that assumption.

The writer boldly avers, as supported truth, that the British
Government, never having acknowledged the validity of the title of the
United States to Louisiana, secretly dispatched the big expedition
against New Orleans with one hand, while directing peace negotiations
with the other; that it was the British purpose to seize and hold
Louisiana, nominally in the name of Spain; and that the British
Government would never have agreed to a peace treaty, which did not
contain a clause, no matter how subtly garbed, that would not give
justification to the British retention of Louisiana.

However, before going into the matter of citations of authorities and
records, it is due to the reader to present something of the English
attitude at the time, so that he may see more clearly and with more
understanding its actions. That can best be done by brief picture of the
background of that period.

                               CHAPTER V.

The great domain, christened Louisiana, was taken over by La Salle in
1682, in the name of France. It remained under French dominion until
1763, when, as a result of French-English wars, France retired from the
New World. It seemed inevitable that Louisiana, great unexplored
trans-river territory, would fall into English hands. But France ceded
Louisiana to Spain, then still a world power. In 1800 Napoleon Bonaparte
caused Spain to re-cede Louisiana to France. In 1803 Bonaparte sold
Louisiana to the United States. He was about to engage in war with
England, and historians generally agree that the sale to United States
was made because he recognized the difficulty of defending the remote
territory against the English Navy. The British Encyclopedia says the
sale was made to keep Louisiana from falling into English hands. Thus it
appears, that England was justified in feeling that Louisiana for the
second time had been maneuvered from her ownership.

References without number may be given from histories covering that
period. The writer has before him James G. Blaine’s “Twenty Years in
Congress,” which in Chapter 1 of the first volume (pages 3 to 13) deals
comprehensively with the relation of the Louisiana purchase to the early
days of the Republic. Some key quotations are here presented: “She
(France) in 1763, now gave up Canada and Cape Breton, acknowledged the
sovereignty of Great Britain in the original thirteen colonies as
extending to the Mississippi, and, by a separate treaty, surrendered
Louisiana on the west side of the Mississippi, with New Orleans on the
east side, to Spain. She (Spain) continued in possession of Louisiana
until the year 1800, when Bonaparte concluded a Treaty ..., by which the
entire territory was retroceded to France.”

Again, Mr. Blaine says: “Fearing that in the threatening conflict (1803)
England, by her superior Naval force, would deprive him of his newly
acquired colonial empire, and greatly enhance her own prestige by
securing all the American possessions, which France had owned prior to
1763, Bonaparte, by a dash in diplomacy, as quick and as brilliant as
his tactics on the field of battle, placed Louisiana beyond the reach of
the British power. In a tone of vehemence and passion he said: ‘I know
the full value of Louisiana. A few lines of a treaty have restored it to
me, and now I must expect to lose it. The English expect to take
possession of it, and it is thus they will begin the war. They have
already twenty ships of the line in the Gulf of Mexico. The conquest of
Louisiana will be easy. I have not a moment to lose in putting it out of
their reach. The English have successively taken from France the
Canadas, Cape Breton, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and the richest portion
of Asia. But they shall not have the Mississippi, which they covet.’”

Again quoting from Blaine: “England’s acquisition of Louisiana would
have proved in the highest degree embarrassing, if not disastrous to the
Union. No colonial acquisition ever made by her on any continent has
been so profitable to her commerce, and so strengthening to her military
position, as that of Louisiana would have proved. The fact was clearly
seen by Bonaparte when he hastily made the treaty ceding it to the
United States.”

Again Blaine: “The conflict of arms (War of 1812) did not occur until
nine years after; and it is a curious and not unimportant fact, that the
most notable defeat of the British troops in the second war of
independence, as the struggle of 1812 has been well named, occurred on
the soil of the territory for whose protection the original precaution
had been taken by Jefferson.”

The reader will find all of the chapter referred to very interesting as
indeed will be any chapter devoted to our sudden acquisition of the
immense domain called Louisiana.

The striking sentences quoted above serve to emphasize the fact that it
would not have been unnatural for England to have felt resentment at
this second maneuvering of a vast territory from her grasp. Some
historians have expressed surprise that England did not at once
undertake to take Louisiana, the United States notwithstanding. That
would have meant armed conflict with America at a time of the war in
Europe. Besides, and this is a deduction of the present writer, such a
course would have placed upon England the onus before the world of a war
of conquest in the western continent. So England waited.

An additional viewpoint is here presented: In the history of the United
States of America, by Henry W. Elson, under the caption “Louisiana”
(Vol. 2, page 230) appears the following paragraph (page 233): “Actual
possession soon placed our title to Louisiana beyond dispute; but
strictly speaking, the sale was not legal. Napoleon had agreed to convey
to Spain a dukedom on the Arno River, for the son-in-law of the Spanish
King, in payment for Louisiana; but the price was never paid. The treaty
of Ildefonso also stipulated that France should never cede the territory
to any foreign power; but Napoleon disregarded this. In point of fact,
France, therefore, did not own Louisiana; and even if she had owned it,
the cession, according to the French Constitution, could not be made
without the consent of the Chamber of Deputies, and this the First
Consul never obtained and never sought. The French people were
astonished at this action of their ruler; but he was a master, and they
were powerless. Far sadder was the wail from Spain. The Spanish
Government protested briefly, pathetically; but its voice was not

From the above quotation the reader can appreciate England’s attitude,
as to the legality of the United States’ title to Louisiana, maintained
until January 8, 1815, when the highest law known to nations dissipated
that attitude forever.

There are doubtless many today, as we bask in the enjoyment of National
security and other national blessings, who do not appreciate the
vastness, the importance, of the Louisiana domain, the acquisition of
which Dr. Sloane of Princeton says translated our young republic into a
world power. According to an early authority the domain comprised
829,987 square miles, and by later authority over a million square
miles. In the Louisiana Purchase territory are today comprehended the
following states: Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana,
Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon,
South Dakota, Washington and Wyoming.

                              CHAPTER VI.

The impressment policy of the English Government applied to the new
American country, was very galling. Under that policy American ships
were stopped on the high seas, and seamen taken from them under guise of
being British deserters. Many good Americans were forced into British
service. The young victim country protested. In 1801 the impressment
practice fell off and seemingly was abandoned. (See Elson’s History of
the U. S., pages 246 to 252, Vol. 2.) A quotation is given from Elson,
page 247, Vol. 2: “This (impressment) practice had fallen into the
background during the short season of peace between France and England,
that ended in 1803, but with the renewal of the war it had been revived
with alarming vigor.”

Whether that “alarming vigor” was due entirely to war exigencies of
recruiting its Navy, or whether the British Government designed it as a
provocation to the young western Republic, to take the onus of declaring
war, under guise of which the coveted floating title to Louisiana could
be appropriated, is a matter for deduction, not appearing of record.

At any rate, the impressment practice re-aroused resentment in the young
republic, and that resentment found chief expression in the then
Southwest, resulting under the leadership of that section and over the
opposition of the New England States, or rather of that of the assertive
Federalists therein, in a declaration of war against England, on the
ground of the degradation of our sovereignty.

It is not the purpose of the writer to discuss the War of 1812, except
as its events may relate to his mission, that of correcting falsehood
and error in the historical books adopted as textbooks for the school
children of America.

The War of 1812 was heralded as a mistake by the Federalists, opponents
of the then administration. While the incipient Navy gave a brilliant
account of itself, justifying the proud boast that man for man and gun
for gun, the U. S. Navy was the equal of anything afloat, for two and a
half years the record shows that land events in the main were untoward,
climaxed by the capture, and sacking and burning of the public
buildings, of the National Capital in August, 1814, and thus the Federal
Press offensively took the “I-told-you-so” attitude.

Early in the war the Emperor of Russia extended his good offices as
mediator. The United States Government accepted the offer, being
earnestly desirous of honorable peace, and having nothing to conceal
from neutral investigation. But the English government declined the
Russian offer, indicating that it preferred to treat direct. Later as a
result of British invitation, a Peace Commission met at Ghent, Belgium.

                              CHAPTER VII.
                         Negotiations at Ghent.

A separate chapter is devoted to the joint conference at Ghent because
therein is shown the subtle, diplomatically concealed, purpose of the
then English Government. The record of the proceedings of the
conference, in order to be fully understood, should be read in the light
of the afterwards revealed fact that, at the same time these
negotiations were being conducted, the expedition against Louisiana was
secretly planned and dispatched. Things that are puzzling in the making
often become clear in the aftermath. And so it is in this case.

The defeat and resultant abdication of Napoleon (April 4, 1814) released
England’s European troops for pursuing the American war with greater
vigor, and to punish the United States for having declared war at
England’s most embarrassing moment. It would not be a violent assumption
to say that at least some members of the British Government felt that
the time was opportune at last to take Louisiana and thus redress a
grievance nurtured since 1803, when Bonaparte snatched that great domain
from England’s outstretched hands.

The exact date on which the Louisiana expedition was determined upon is
not material. Plain evidence discloses that during the joint peace
negotiation its details were arranged and the army sent forward to take
New Orleans. We now know that after the capture of Washington by the
British and the burning and sacking of the public buildings there
(August 24, 1814), the British invading forces, after being later
repulsed in an attack upon Baltimore, repaired under orders to Nigril
Bay, Jamaica, to await recruits for the expedition against New Orleans.
With the time then required for ocean travel, these orders must have
been given prior to, or about the time of the meeting of the Peace
Commissioners at Ghent, August 4, 1814.

Let us visualize the two groups assembled at Ghent. First, consider the
five Americans. They were earnestly desirous of a quick and honorable
peace. Their country was riven with dissatisfaction produced by a
powerful anti-administration and anti-war party, seemingly in control of
the northeastern states, making dire threats, unless hostilities were
soon ended.

The American Commissioners were prepared and authorized to forego the
questions of impressment and orders in council, which caused the war,
and conclude a peace pact on the basis of the status before the war. For
a month they had been waiting the coming of the British Commissioners.
It is evident there was a purpose on the part of the British Government
to delay.

The second group consisted of three suave English Commissioners, who
appeared at Ghent, as before stated, August 4th.

These English Commissioners began by making, on behalf of their
Government, demands objectionable and humiliating, the discussion of
which, often at long distance with the London Government officials,
consumed time. Finally the American Commissioners were forced to write
to Washington for further instructions.

From “The Diplomacy of the War of 1812,” by Frank A. Updyke, which is a
most valuable account of the Peace conference, quotation is given from
pages 220 and 221. “It was the unanimous opinion of the American
ministers that Great Britain’s policy was to consume as much time as
possible before the termination of negotiations, in order that some
decided victory might be gained in the war which would make it easier
for her to insist upon her demands.”

This quotation is given to show that our ministers recognized the
British tactics as sparring for time; but the record does not show that
any one of them thought of New Orleans as the objective point of British

The records in connection with the negotiations are voluminous, and make
very interesting reading. But viewed in the after revealed facts, the
truth stands out so clearly that the proceedings of the Peace Conference
in English consideration and the secret expedition to capture New
Orleans were so closely inter-related that in arriving at the material
verity, much material in that conference should be disregarded as
intended by the English to delay and becloud, and so matters coming
before the Conference referring to Louisiana should only be considered
in connection with our mission.

Frank A. Updyke, Ph.D. of Dartmouth College, in his “The Diplomacy of
the War of 1812,” quoted from above, has given a condensed, fully
annotated, account of the proceedings of the Peace Conference. It is a
work, published in 1915, which deserves place as a supplementary
textbook in every college and high school. I have made liberal use of
Dr. Updyke’s volume, which merits high place for research effort and

The Joint Commission had been in session a little over two months when
the first note was struck significant of the British underlying purpose.
It was in the communication of the English Government through their
ministers to the American Commissioners. The document was dated October
8, 1814. (See American State papers.)

“The first paragraph,” says Updyke (page 269), “attempted to show the
illegality of the purchase of Louisiana and the spirit of territorial
aggrandisement on the part of the United States which this act

It might have been inferred that this attack upon the legality of the
title to Louisiana would be followed by a demand of some sort; but no
such demand was made. In fact, the treaty as finally adopted, contained
no mention of Louisiana.

It is highly pertinent to ask a question as to what was the purpose of
this attack upon the title of Louisiana. All such things have a purpose.

In the light of present knowledge that purpose is clear. The great
expedition against New Orleans being near completion, it is obvious that
the British Government recognized the good diplomatic position before
the world, after the capture of Louisiana, of showing a record of fair
warning as justification for retention.

The reply of the Americans to the note of October 8th was dated October
13th. (See American State papers.)

Quotation is given from Updyke, page 284:

“While endeavoring to make the reply brief, the American ministers could
not refrain from discussing some other topics adverted to by the British
in their note. The British ministers had made the charge that the
acquisition of Louisiana by the United States was illegal, Spain having
offered a remonstrance against its cession and the right of France to
make it. To this the American note responded that, although the Spanish
minister at Washington had made such remonstrance, at that very time
orders were given by Spain for the delivery of Louisiana to France. So
France was in actual possession of the territory when she disposed of it
to the United States.”

Another matter, although not in chronological turn, may be here
presented, as showing further the English attitude towards Louisiana. In
the course of the note of the Americans to the British, dated November
10, 1814 (see American State papers), Updyke says, page 307: “The
American note refused to consent to the British proposal to fix the
northwest boundary by the line from the lake of the Woods to the
Mississippi unless the boundaries of Louisiana should also be provided
for in the settlement.”

The British ministers in referring the note to their Government, said
they were unwilling to consent to a discussion of the Louisiana
boundary, for their doing so might be taken as a recognition of the
right of the United States to the occupation of the territory. (See
Updyke, page 310.)

What might be called the Uti Possidetis scheme was embraced in a British
note of October 21st (see American State papers). The British proposed
the Uti Possidetis principle, as a basis of settlement, under which each
side would keep what territory it should be possessed of at the
promulgation of peace.

The reason behind this proposal seems now very patent. The adoption of
this principle would have enabled England, by indisputable treaty right,
to retain Louisiana, which she confidently expected to take.

But the Americans opposed this principle and firmly insisted on a treaty
based upon conditions at the beginning of the war.

The English were very insistent and for a time there appeared a new
danger that the conference would break up. But, as will appear later,
British diplomacy, the most skilful in the world, found a way to
accomplish the main objective of the Uti Possidetis; that is to say, the
retention of Louisiana after the expected reduction of New Orleans.

While these peace negotiations were simmering at Ghent, the
well-planned, secret expedition against New Orleans was completed in
detail, and with confident feeling of assurance that, because of its
size and veteran fibre, it would be invincible, it was finally put on
its way to join the waiting troops at Nigril Bay, Jamaica. Sir Edward
Pakenham was appointed Commander of the Expeditionary forces. A. C.
Buell, in his “History of Andrew Jackson,” published in 1904, states
that Pakenham’s order was dated November 4, 1814, and read according to
English war office minute; that General Pakenham “shall proceed to
Plymouth and embark there for Louisiana to assume command of the forces
operating for the reduction of that province.” Buell cites as authority
Bathurst papers; State Paper Office, London.

On the assumption of the correctness of Buell’s citation, the term
“Province” as applied to Louisiana, in English official orders,
represents the radical difference of viewpoint as to Louisiana at the
time between the British Government and the American Union, of which the
English termed province was a fair possession from which already one
state had been carved. (Louisiana in 1812.)

While the British Expedition was ploughing the seas, unexpected
resistance was forming under an American general, who didn’t know what
defeat was.

                             CHAPTER VIII.
                    Negotiations at Ghent—Continued.

We will now return to the parleys at Ghent. The British continued to
insist on the Uti Possidetis as a basis of a Peace Treaty, but proposed
that it be “subject to such modifications as mutual convenience may be
found to require.” In a letter to the British Commissioners, dated
October 18th, Lord Bathurst, quoted by Updyke (page 288), cited several
points on which mutual accommodations might be had; but Louisiana was
not one of the points. For if it had been there would have seemingly
been no use planning and sending out the great expedition for the
“reduction of that province.”

From many interesting details touching the Uti Possidetis proposals, the
reader is referred to Updyke (“The Diplomacy of the War of 1812”), pages
288 to 319.

Finally, realizing the unshaken adherence of the Americans to the
antebellum status, the British gave up the Uti Possidetis demand, and by
specific wording obviously sought to protect the Louisiana design.

In the amended proposal of the British (see British to American
ministers Nov. 26, 1814), there are two things highly pertinent to the
inquiry we are conducting, to establish the real value of the Battle of
New Orleans. The first was the provision that peace would not be
effective until after ratification by both countries. The second
consisted in the proposed wording for the mutual restoration clause as
follows: “Belonging to either party, taken by the other.” The effect of
this wording in the mutual restoration clause, would have been that all
territory belonging to either party, taken by the other, should be
returned. But this would not embrace Louisiana, for from the English
standpoint, it did not legally belong to the United States.

As to the first point, a quotation is here given from Updyke (page 317):
“The amended project returned by the British commissioners provided that
the notification for the cessation of the war be issued after
ratifications of the treaty should have been exchanged rather than at
the time of the signature. This was designed, it was supposed, to give
time for the completion of the British plans against New Orleans, the
successful outcome of which was never doubted.”

The American ministers, on November 30th, consented to the substitution
of the day of exchange of ratifications for that of the signature of the
treaty, as the time for cessation of hostilities, and for regulating the
period when prizes at sea shall be restored. (See American to British
ministers, Nov. 30, 1814.)

This agreement was duly carried into the treaty, as we have heretofore
set forth, Article XI, prescribing all details.

The American ministers opposed the proposed words in the mutual
restoration clause, “belonging to either party, taken by the other.”
They insisted on the words, “taken by either party from the other.”
Strong reasons were given by the Americans for their attitude, but the
British ministers refused to yield, saying the matter would be referred
to their Government (Updyke, pp. 324-325).

The British Government, on December 6th, instructed their Commissioners
to insist upon the retention of the words in dispute, and advanced
skilful arguments, in which the real purpose was not revealed. For a
digest of these arguments, see Updyke, pages 335-336.

To the present day reader, having knowledge of the expedition, which was
then on its way to capture New Orleans, the English purpose seems very

With diplomatic art the British Government sought to make it appear that
the disputed words, “belonging to either party and taken by the other,”
were founded in the objective relating to the islands in Passamaquoddy
Bay during the time of the agreed upon reference to a commission to
determine the ownership of these Islands.

The Americans, not aware, of course, of the expedition against New
Orleans, accepted the viewpoint advanced as to the disputed words, but
while rejecting the words, indicated that they would be “willing to
admit such a modification as should secure the right of Great Britain
from being affected or impaired by yielding possession of the Islands to
the United States.” (Updyke, p. 343.)

The British ministers replied, arguing England’s position. That position
in effect was, that during the war she had taken these islands, the
title to which was in dispute, and that to call upon her to restore
them, because they were occupied by the United States at the beginning
of the war, would be unjust; that having agreed to a commission to
settle the ownership of the islands, she was willing, if need be, to
accede to a clause which would especially guard the ultimate right
against the prejudice which the American ministers feared might arise
from the continued possession by Great Britain. The British ministers
admitted the comparatively small value of the territory in question, but
claimed that yielding possession of the Islands involved a point of
honor on the part of Great Britain, and, if insisted upon, might make
the conclusion of peace impossible. (See Updyke, pp. 343-344; report of
conference of Dec. 12, 1814, given by British Commissioners to Lord

The Americans yielded the point, and thus it appears that the British
Government secured the accession of the principle of the great concealed
objective on a matter of minor importance. Thus the word “possessions”
was admitted into the mutual restoration clause of the peace treaty.

That mutual restoration clause, as adopted, and incorporated in Article
1, of the Treaty of Ghent, reads as follows:

“All territory, places and possessions whatsoever, taken by either party
from the other during the War, or which may be taken after the signing
of this Treaty, excepting only the Islands hereinafter mentioned, shall
be restored without delay and without causing any destruction or
carrying away of any of the artillery or other public property
originally captured in the said forts or places, and which shall remain
therein upon the exchange of the ratification of this Treaty, or any
slaves or other private property; and all archives, records, deeds, and
papers, either of a public nature or belonging to private persons,
which, in the course of the War, may have fallen into the hands of the
officers, of either party shall be, as far as may be practicable,
forthwith restored and delivered to the proper authorities and persons
to whom they respectively belong. Such of the Islands in the Bay of
Passamaquoddy as are claimed by both parties, shall remain in the
possession of the party in whose occupation they may be at the time of
the exchange of the ratification of this Treaty until the decision
respecting the title to said islands shall have been made in conformity
with the fourth article of this Treaty. No disposition made by this
Treaty as to such possession of such islands and territories claimed by
both parties shall, in any manner whatever, be construed to affect the
right of either.”

The Treaty, from which the clause above is quoted, can of course be
found in Washington, but copy may be seen at almost any general public
library, in the volume herebefore referred to containing various
Treaties of the United States.

The reader, who has been following us in our showing of the various
stages of the development of the British design to protect, by
diplomacy, the Louisiana expedition, will recognize the significance of
the word “possessions.” By reason of that word, the British were in
position to maintain, after capturing Louisiana, that it was not subject
to return under the mutual restoration clause adopted, not being, under
English construction, a legal “possession” of the United States, formal
notice of that construction having been given in the treaty
negotiations. The subtly accomplished insertion of the word in the
treaty represented a triumph of ulterior British diplomatic design over
the very able, hard-headed, but open and candid American commissioners,
who were entirely in the dark as to the Expedition dispatched to seize

That word was of course not as exclusive of argument as the Uti
Possidetis principle first proposed, and insisted upon almost as a sine
qua non; nor was it as clear as the wording subsequently urged,
“belonging to either party and taken by the other”; but it was all
sufficient, backed by the British conviction that Louisiana was not a
legal possession of the United States, and supported by the mighty
British martial power, then unleashed from European war.

It is obvious to the writer that but for the word “possessions,” or
wording of similar import, the treaty would not have been agreed to by
the British; in fact, such indication was given by the British ministers
at the joint conference December 12th, under the guise of the principle
pertaining to the Passamaquoddy Islands.

Any presumption that Great Britain, after planning the great expedition
against Louisiana, would have, within a few weeks following the final
dispatch of the military forces, signed a peace treaty, recalling those
forces from an attained, long-dreamed-of conquest, is a reflection upon
the intelligence of the British Government of 1814-15.

With the treaty agreed to, the English Government became anxious about
its ratification by President Madison. Significant evidence of this is
furnished by Doctor Updyke, in his work from which we have already made
a number of quotations. On page 355, Updyke says, “The British ministry
had hoped that their last communication would enable the commissioners
to close the negotiations for the treaty of peace. They were, however,
suspicious of President Madison, and feared he would not sign the
treaty. For this reason it was stipulated that the war should not cease
until after the exchange of ratifications at Washington. They counted
upon having a strong English fleet in the Chesapeake and the Delaware at
the time that Baker, the bearer of the British copy of the treaty,
should reach Washington; and they also counted upon the disposition of
the Eastern states to secede from the Union, as likely to ‘frighten
Madison.’ It was suggested that if Madison should refuse to ratify the
treaty the British Government should immediately propose to make a
separate treaty with the New England States, which it was believed could
be accomplished.”

Dr. Updyke gives as authority for the foregoing paragraph: “Liverpool to
Castlereagh, December 23, 1814; Wellington Supplementary Dispatches, IX,

Lord Liverpool was prime minister and Lord Castlereagh was secretary for
foreign affairs.

The digest given of correspondence between these high English Government
officials makes it plain that the English Government was anxious for
ratification of the Peace Treaty and that they were fearful that Madison
would not sign.

As confirmatory of the Liverpool apprehension it may be mentioned that
the _London Times_, December 31, 1814 (see British Museum), said that
the ratification by Madison depended upon the outcome of the expedition
against New Orleans. The _London Times_ was unfriendly to the Liverpool
government, and was also very hostile to the United States. In the
circumstances it may fairly be presumed that to allay criticism of the
treaty the press was informed of the expected New Orleans coup.

In view of the unanimous action of the American Commissioners in
agreeing to the Treaty, it becomes very evident that the British
Government anticipated that something would transpire before the Treaty
reached Washington that might cause the President to withhold his
approval. In the light of present knowledge, that something was the
expected British capture of New Orleans. We may well ask the question,
as to why the British Government was so anxious for the ratification of
the Treaty as to plan to “frighten Madison” and threaten separate peace
with New England, thus disrupting the Union, if that Government expected
to turn back Louisiana after its anticipated conquest. That question
carries its own obvious answer.

Happily for us, and for England as consequences have proved, and for the
world, the dilemma in which the English statesmen thought President
Madison would be placed, was averted.

While Carroll, with the American copy of the Treaty, and Baker, with the
English copy, also having authority to exchange ratification, ploughed
the seas, an event was in the making of destiny, which, when brought
forth, utterly confounded the carefully laid plans of the
Liverpool-Castlereagh Government, and in fact ushered in a new epoch, a
new and greater era for the young American Republic—never again to be
pointed to as an experiment.

                              CHAPTER IX.
                     Washington, the First of 1815.

One of the most thrilling incidents in our history is the reception by
the country of the news of the Battle of New Orleans. It was
theatrically acclaimed, with almost delirious joy, sharply contrasting
with the condition of deep discouragement and gloom it suddenly
dissipated. Seldom has a victory had more dramatic setting. It is well
for us who enjoy the rich blessings of the present, occasionally to read
of the trials and tribulations through which our forebears struggled,
that they might hand these blessings down to us. “If an old man of
perfect memory,” says James Parton, in Chapter 20 of the second volume
of the Life of Andrew Jackson, published in 1860, “were asked to name
the time when the prospects of this republic were shrouded in deepest
gloom, and the largest number of the people despaired of its future, his
answer, I think, would be, ‘the first thirty-seven days of the year
1815.’” (Parton makes an error of two days, for the news of the battle
of New Orleans reached Washington February 4th.)

“The Capital,” says Parton, “was in ruins” (as a result of its burning
by the British the preceding August).

Parton further referred to the Hartford Convention, which on January 5th
had closed several weeks of session. This anti-war convention was
denounced as treasonable by administrative papers. It had aroused
gravest apprehensions of disunion unless peace should at once be made.

In order to convey an idea of the antagonistic spirit prevailing,
quotation is here given from the _Boston Gazette_, of that period: “Is
there a Federalist, a patriot in America, who conceives it his duty to
shed his blood for Bonaparte, for Madison and Jefferson, and that host
of ruffians in Congress, who have set their faces against us for years,
and spirited up the brutal part of the populace to destroy us? Not one!
Shall we, then, any longer be held in slavery, and driven to desperate
poverty by such a graceless faction?”

Parton further quotes many New England editors as saying: “No more taxes
from New England, till the administration makes peace.”

Parton further says that the great British expedition, so long mustering
in the West Indies, so long delayed, cast a prodigious shadow before it,
putting New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore on their guard; but that as
the autumn passed without the reappearance of hostile force in the
northern waters, the conviction gained ground that something
overwhelming was in contemplation against the defenseless south and

“It so chanced,” continues Parton, “that the 8th of January was the days
on which it was first whispered about Washington that the President had
received news of the British fleet at the mouth of the Mississippi. From
that time the eyes of the country were fixed upon New Orleans—not

“It is not an overstatement of the case,” continues Parton, “to say that
there was not one well informed man in the northern states who believed
that New Orleans could be successfully defended.”

Again quoting from Parton: “After a week of gossip and foreboding, came
news of the gunboat battle, and its disastrous results; also rumors of a
great armament hovering on the Atlantic coast. ‘We are a lost country,’
said the Federal papers in doleful concert. ‘A wicked administration has
ruined us. New Orleans having fallen an easy prey, the British General
will leave a few acclimated black regiments to garrison that city, and
bring the Wellington heroes around to the Chesapeake. Baltimore will not
be able to resist. Washington will again be overrun, Philadelphia and
New York will next be attacked, and who shall say with what results? See
to what a pass Jefferson and French democracy have brought a deluded

All sorts of dire rumors were in circulation, and to add to the gloom
that prevailed in Washington and elsewhere, a snow storm of remarkable
violence and extent set in on the 23rd of January, and continued for
three days. Belated mails straggled in, showing that the American Army
was still resisting. “New Orleans is not taken yet,” said the Western
members, and the Republican editors. “It is merely a question of time,”
replied the Federalists; “the next mail will finish New Orleans and

In the midst of that setting, on February 4th, a horseman came into
Washington, bearing glorious news for the Administration forces. He had
dispatches from General Jackson, detailing the decisive victory of
January 8th.

Washington was wild with delight at the unexpected victory. “That
evening,” still quoting from Parton, “the town was blazing with light,
and the whole populace was abroad, now thronging about the White House
(temporary), cheering the President, then surging around the houses of
the Secretaries, and residences of the leading supporters of the war,
rending the air with shouts.... The next issue of the _National
Intelligencer_ cannot be glanced over to this day without exciting in
the mind something of the feeling which is wont to express itself by
three times three and one cheer more. The great news was headed, in the
_Intelligencer’s_ largest type, ‘Almost Incredible Victory!!!!’”

It was worth a life time to experience the jubilation of that night! It
was the sudden restoration of a people’s national self-respect.

The news of the reception of the victory elsewhere was equally as
thrilling. It aroused what Parton called the “maddest enthusiasm.” A
quotation may be given from the autobiography of Mr. John Binns: “A
general illumination was ordered in Philadelphia. Few indeed there were
yet there were a few who on that night closed their window shutters and
mourned the defeat of the enemies of their country. I had early
intelligence of this joyful news, and gladly, by an extra, spread it
abroad. I put scene painters to work, and had a transparency painted,
which covered nearly the whole front of my house. There had been a heavy
snow fall, and there was that evening from nine to twelve inches of snow
on the ground. That, however, did not prevent men, women and children
from parading the street, and delighting their eyes by looking at the
illumination and illuminated transparencies, which made the principal
streets of our city as light as day. My transparency represented General
Jackson on horseback at the head of his staff, in pursuit of the enemy,
with the motto: ‘This day shall ne’er go by, from this day to the ending
of the world, but He, in it, shall be remembered.’”

This gives in brief a glimpse of the effect in the country of the news
of the victory at New Orleans. How can any American describe it as a
needless battle? After the event it might have been deplored by the
British as needless, just as any lost battle may be so regarded.

Just ten days after that lone horseman rode into Washington on February
4th, the Treaty reached the Capitol, and under the inspiration of the
great victory at New Orleans, it was joyfully and speedily ratified.

                               CHAPTER X.
        But What If the Issue of the Battle Had Been Different?

As stated in the last chapter, the Peace Treaty was speedily and
joyfully ratified. But what if the issue of the battle had been

The chronology of the Treaty may here be given:

Signed at Ghent, on the 24th day of December, 1814, by the Peace
Commissioners representing the two countries;

Ratified for England by the Prince Regent on December 31st, 1814.

Reached Washington the night of February 14th, 1815;

Sent by President Madison to the Senate February 15th;

Ratification advised by the Senate, February 16th;

Ratified by President Madison February 17th, and ratification exchanged
with England’s representative the same day;

Promulgated by President Madison February 18th; thus ending the period
of hostilities.

Would the United States Senate have advised ratification, or would the
President have ratified, if the British on January 8th, had swept aside
that defensive army and had carried into effect the design to capture
and occupy Louisiana?

Probably no more grave or serious situation has ever confronted an
American President than that which would have been presented. By
ratifying the treaty, the President would have satisfied the New England
malcontents, who had given veiled threats of disunion. But by the
ratification with England in possession of Louisiana, and holding that
it was not a legal possession of the United States, the President would
have faced a desperate alternative of giving up Louisiana, and the
trans-Mississippi territory; or referring it to the issue of a future
war, or future negotiations.

It is the belief of the writer that President Madison would have
declined to ratify the Treaty, as long as the British remained in
occupation of Louisiana; thus prolonging the war with its uncertainties,
and taking the risk of the disruption of the Union, through a separate
peace with England by the New England States; a proposition which, as we
have seen, was in contemplation by the English Government.

All of these questions, so momentous, to the American Union, were
happily and gloriously averted by the marvelous defensive victory at New

And yet, American historians teach our children that that battle was a
needless one!

Oh, ignorance! Oh, prejudice! Oh, pro-English!!

                              CHAPTER XI.
                Testimony From General Jackson Himself.

In presenting this case against the school historians, which he feels
has already been made, to the satisfaction of any impartial reader, the
writer has refrained from using much confirmatory material in order to
be as brief as possible. But in the history of Andrew Jackson, written
by A. C. Buell, and published in 1904, there occurs illuminating data
highly apropos in this connection. It may be remarked that Buell is not
a favorite of some historians. Buell was distinctly not pro-English.

In chapter 3 of the second volume of Buell’s history, entitled “British
Designs on Louisiana,” the author reiterates a statement before made,
that Jackson’s Army of New Orleans saved the Louisiana Purchase, and
adds that few people of the millions who were celebrating in 1904 the
centenary of the colossal transaction between Napoleon Bonaparte and
Thomas Jefferson, realized the significance of these words. Buell later
says: “Viewed in the light of its actual influence on the map of North
America, and the fortunes of this Republic, it was the most important
battle ever fought between Great Britain and the United States.... The
real, vast, enduring value of the Battle of New Orleans, lay in the fact
that it prevented another war.”

In adducing evidence of the purpose of the English Government against
Louisiana, Buell says: “The fleet carried more than an army, the
narratives of the subaltern and Capt. Cooke, reputable British officers
of 85th and 43rd Light Infantry, respectively, tell us there was on
board the fleet ‘a complete civil government staff’ to be installed in
place of the State Government of Louisiana at the moment of occupation.
One of them, with a spice of humor, informs us that one member of this
‘civil government staff’ was ‘a worthy Colonial official whose
confidence in the success of the Expedition led him to resign the
comfortable position of Collector of Barbadoes to take the larger and
more lucrative post for the (to-be) Crown Colony of Louisiana.”

As other members of the civil government staff Mr. Buell names Honorable
Mr. Elwood, Lieut. Governor, transferred from Trinidad, and Mr.
Dockstader, transferred from upper Canada; also an Attorney-General, an
Admiralty Judge, and a Secretary of the Colony, sent from England

Mr. Buell continues: “Besides his general orders at Plymouth, Pakenham
brought with him a proclamation approved by the Home Government or
Colonial office. This proclamation was to be published as soon as the
British Army should occupy New Orleans. It promised protection to
everybody, general amnesty to all previously engaged in hostilities, and
proclaimed the sovereignty of England, in behalf of Spain, over all the
territory fraudulently conveyed by Bonaparte to the United States. It
denied the validity of the secret treaty by which Spain re-ceded
Louisiana to France in 1800. It denied Bonaparte’s right to act for
France in 1803. And finally it ‘denounced the pretentions of the United
States to sovereignty under the alleged purchase from Bonaparte.’ This
proclamation was in printed form at British headquarters the night
before the battle, and its contents were well known to many British
officers. The night after the battle it disappeared. Every copy of it
was burned!

“All this evidence was obtained from British prisoners taken in the
battle of January 8th. But it lacked one link to make the chain perfect.
That was evidence of specific design and fixed policy on the part of the
British Government. In the absence of such evidence the cabinet of St.
James might, in emergency, declare that the scheme of a ‘crown colony’
and the proclamation itself were the acts of General Pakenham—to be
approved if he succeeded or disavowed if he failed. The needed link was
supplied long after.”

“The final link in the chain,” says Mr. Buell, “was furnished by General
Jackson himself. In the fall of 1875, the author, then a staff
correspondent of the _Missouri Republican_, visited former Governor
William Allen, of Ohio, at his farm near Chillicothe. During the visit,
which was of three days’ duration, the venerable statesman’s
conversation—when not upon agricultural subjects—was mainly of
reminiscences of his earlier public life. All was interesting; some of
it historically valuable, particularly those parts relating to the
British invasion of Louisiana. What Governor Allen said on this subject
we reproduce here, exactly as it was printed in 1875.”

Governor Allen’s interview is here given in full:

“Near the end of General Jackson’s second administration and shortly
after the admission of Arkansas to the Union, I, being Senator elect
from Ohio, went to Washington to take the seat on March 4th.

“General Jackson,—he always preferred to be called General rather than
Mr. President, and so we always addressed him by his military
title—General Jackson invited me to lunch with him. No sooner were we
seated than he said: ‘Mr. Allen, let us take a little drink to the new
star in the flag—Arkansas.’ This ceremony being duly observed, the
General said: ‘Allen, if there had been disaster instead of victory at
New Orleans, there never would have been a state of Arkansas.’”

“This, of course, interested me, and I asked: ‘Why do you say that,

“Then he said, that if Pakenham had taken New Orleans, the British would
have claimed and held the whole Louisiana Purchase. But I said: ‘You
know, General Jackson, that the treaty of Ghent, which had been signed
fifteen days before the battle, provided for restoration of all
territory, places and possessions taken by either nation from the other
during the war, with certain unimportant exceptions.’

“‘Yes, of course,’ he replied, ‘But the minutes of the conference at
Ghent as kept by Mr. Gallatin, represent the British commissioners as
declaring in exact words: ‘We do not admit Bonaparte’s construction of
the law of nations; and we cannot accept it in relation to any subject
matter before us.’

“‘At that moment,’ pursued General Jackson, ‘none of our Commissioners
knew what the real meaning of these words was. When they were uttered,
the British Commissioners knew that Pakenham’s expedition had been
decided on. Our Commissioners did not know it. Now, since I have been
Chief Magistrate, I have learned from diplomatic sources of the most
unquestionable authority, that the British ministry did not intend the
Treaty of Ghent to apply to the Louisiana Purchase at all. The whole
corporation of them, from 1803 to 1815—Pitt, the Duke of Portland,
Granville, Percival, Lord Liverpool and Castlereagh—denied the legal
right of Napoleon to sell Louisiana to us, and they held, therefore,
that we had no right to that territory. So you see, Allen, that the
words of Mr. Goulburn, on behalf of the British Commissioners, which I
have quoted to you from Albert Gallatin’s Minutes of the Conference, had
a far deeper significance than our commissioners could perpetrate. Those
words were meant to lay the foundation for a claim on the Louisiana
Purchase entirely external to the provisions of the Treaty of Ghent. And
in that way the British Government was signing a treaty with one hand in
front while with the other hand behind its back it was despatching
Pakenham’s army to seize the fairest of our possessions.

“‘You can also see, my dear William,’ said the old General, waxing warm
(having once or twice more during the luncheon toasted the new star),
‘you can also see what an awful mess such a situation would have been if
the British programme had been carried out in full. But Providence
willed otherwise. All the tangled web that the cunning of the English
Diplomats could weave around our unsuspecting commissioners at Ghent was
torn to pieces and soaked with British blood in half an hour at New
Orleans by the never-missing rifles of my Tennessee and Kentucky
pioneers. And that ended it. British diplomacy could do wonders, but it
couldn’t provide against such a contingency as that. The British
Commissioners could throw sand in the eyes of ours at Ghent, but they
couldn’t help the cold lead that my riflemen sprinkled in the faces of
their soldiers at New Orleans. Now, Allen, you have the whole story. Now
you know why Arkansas was saved at New Orleans. Let’s take another
little one.’”

Thomas E. Watson, at one time United States Senator from Georgia, in a
history of Jackson, written after Buell’s history, quotes this interview
and comments that it settles the question, and that if the British had
captured New Orleans, the United States boundary line would have stopped
at the Mississippi.

                              CHAPTER XII.
                Captain Garland’s Testimony On the Spot.

Captain Henry Garland was one of Jackson’s young officers at New
Orleans. In view of the brilliance and stirring eloquence of a speech
made by him, which I am about to give, from the same chapter heretofore
quoted from Buell, it will be interesting to give a digest of Buell’s
description of him: He was born at Nantes, France, his father a merchant
of Norfolk, Virginia, residing there as Commercial Agent for American
importing houses. He received his education in French schools. Coming to
America, he went to Tennessee, and in the War of 1812 volunteered in
Coffee’s mounted riflemen, serving with distinction throughout the war.

In the latter part of March, 1815, the officers of the Louisiana militia
gave a banquet to those of the Tennessee, Kentucky and Mississippi
troops and the Regulars, on the eve of the disbandment of Jackson’s
Army. Captain Garland was selected by his comrades to respond in French
on their behalf.

“The guests,” said Buell, “were welcomed on behalf of the Creole hosts
and hostesses by Vicar-General, the Most Reverend Abbe Dubourg, Bishop
of Louisiana, who made a brief address of welcome, first in English and
then in French. In conclusion, the Abbe expressed sorrow that such an
awful battle should have been fought and so many souls sent unprepared
into the presence of the Creator, two weeks after the Treaty of Peace
had been signed on the other side of the Ocean.”

According to Buell, the Abbe’s remarks changed the whole character of
Garland’s reply. He spoke in French, which was afterwards translated.

The writer recommends a full reading of this, at points, remarkably
eloquent speech, from which some excerpts are here given.

After some introductory remarks, Captain Garland said: “The most
reverend prelate, in his otherwise well chosen remarks, suggested that
it was a pity that such an awful battle should have been fought after
the Treaty was signed across the wide water. I do not agree with him. It
needed that battle to make the Treaty good. It made no difference when
the Treaty was signed. Without that battle it must have been waste

“The Treaty as written, did not mean anything. It says that the
territorial status quo ante bellum shall be observed. But the British
Cabinet held ‘’l’arriere pensee’ about that. They never admitted
Napoleon’s right to convey Louisiana to us through President Jefferson.
They did not mean to include the Louisiana Purchase in the territorial
status quo ante bellum!

“The Treaty signed in ink on the 24th of December was a cheat. But the
Treaty that the Pioneers of Tennessee and Kentucky punctuated with rifle
bullets the 8th of January will stand. The English diplomats at Ghent
held, as I have said, ‘’l’arriere-pensee.’ But the British soldiers who
lay down to die in front of Kentucky and Tennessee the 8th of January on
Chalmette plain were sincere and honest. It was in their life blood that
the real treaty was written; not in the ink of Ghent.

“The English plan of subjugation was complete. Soon after the battle it
was learned that General Pakenham had a proclamation written, signed and
ready to be promulgated the moment his Army should enter the City. This
proclamation denied the right of Napoleon to sell Louisiana, denounced
the pretentions of the United States to its sovereignty, declared that
Spain, the rightful possessor, was incapable of maintaining her
territorial rights, and, finally, asserted a provisional occupation by
the British forces as a virtual protectorate in behalf of the Spanish
Crown. The night after the battle, this proclamation was burned. It may
have been used to illuminate the scene where the corpse of its author
was being prepared for shipment to England in a cask of rum.

“It is commonly known that, the night of January 7th, a council of war
was held in the British camp. It is also known to many that, on that
occasion, Major-General Sir Samuel Gibbs spoke of General Jackson’s Army
as a ‘backwoods rabble.’ He was right. That’s what we are—from the point
of view of a British regular. We are ‘Backwoodsmen,’ because we were
born and raised in little log cabins all along our great frontier. The
mothers who gave us milk, made their own clothes, and ours, too, of
homespun or of buckskin. As soon as we could lift a rifle we had to hunt
our meat in the woods. Yes, we are ‘backwoodsmen.’ And from the point of
view of a British regular, we are a ‘rabble,’ too. That is, we are not
soldiers in the regular sense of the term. We are not enlisted; we don’t
get any pay. We are simply assembled, as volunteers, to defend our
country. We have a kind of organization, it is true; but it is as
independent companies, composed of neighbors, and our officers are
simply those men whose characters and experience point them out as
natural leaders. In one word, we have no regulations, except those of
common sense; no discipline, except that of common consent; no mastery,
one over the other, except that of manhood! Such are the men who rallied
from Tennessee and Kentucky when Andrew Jackson called.

“Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, they are a ‘backwoods rabble.’ They met,
say, three times their number of soldiers who were the Pride of England!
And the ‘Backwoods Rabble’ laid that ‘Pride of England’ low!”

                            * * * * * * * *

“And now just one word more: Most people say that our American Republic
was born the fourth day of July, 1776, at Philadelphia. This is not
true. It was only begotten then. It was born when Burgoyne surrendered
at Saratoga. It was baptised when Cornwallis yielded at Yorktown. But it
was never confirmed, as they say in the religion of the Holy Saviour,
until the 8th of last January!

“That day saw not merely the repulse and destruction of a British Army,
but it taught the whole world a lesson never to be forgot. It needs not
the gift of prophecy to foresee that the battle fought by Andrew Jackson
and his ‘backwoods rabble’ did more than repulse cowardly and
treacherous invasion. It taught to all the princes and kings and
emperors on the face of the earth that they must let our young Republic

Apart from his testimony as to Pakenham’s intended proclamation, and
apart from his estimate of British diplomacy, the speech of Captain
Garland is well worth preserving as a specimen of real, patriotic

                            * * * * * * * *

From the mass of evidence, available to any earnest historian, the
writer has selected one more witness, whose testimony is compressed, in
an incidental paragraph. At the meeting of the American Historical
Association in New Orleans in 1903, Dr. W. M. Sloane read a paper
entitled, “The World Aspects of the Louisiana Purchase.” It is published
in Volume I of the “Proceedings of the American Historical Association
of 1903.” In that paper (page 102 of Proceedings above cited) appears
this sentence: “But for Jefferson’s wisdom in explorating it (Louisiana)
might have remained a wilderness long after settlement began; Great
Britain coveted it in 1815 when Jackson saved it.” There is a sentence
compact with fact. Dr. William M. Sloane (now dead) was at the time of
the address, and for many years professor of history at Princeton
University, and a recognized authority on history.

In all literature there cannot be found a more concrete, comprehensive
line: “Great Britain coveted it in 1815 when Jackson saved it.”
Pro-English historians may deftly turn and twist this and other facts to
their purpose; but let me give a tocsin call: PRO-ENGLISH HISTORIANS

                             CHAPTER XIII.

The writer, in these pages, has shown by what must be conceded on all
sides, irrefragable evidence that school histories are in error in
saying the Battle of New Orleans was fought after peace, and was
therefore a needless battle.

The writer has also shown by evidence he considers conclusive, that
England held as invalid the title of the United States to Louisiana,
acquired by sale from Bonaparte to the United States in 1803; that
England deliberately planned the conquest of Louisiana (with the
resultant development, if successful, of a great dominion to the west of
the United States, like Canada on the North). That evidence is mainly
furnished by the British themselves. First in the British note to the
United States Peace Commissioners, criticizing the title of the United
States to Louisiana; and, second, in the fitting out and dispatching of
the expedition against New Orleans during the peace negotiations; in the
complete Civil Government staff, for Louisiana, carried by the
expedition; in the record of the peace negotiations, first in the
insistence by the British upon the Uti Possidetis principle, and,
second, when that failed, in the proposal of words to be inserted in the
Mutual Restoration clause, which proposal finally resulted in the word,
“Possessions” in that clause, under which England could hold that
Louisiana, having been taken, was not subject to return, not being a
possession of the United States; further in the letter of Prime Minister
Liverpool to Lord Castlereagh, assuming British occupation of New
Orleans, outlining purpose to “frighten Madison” into signing the Treaty
(thus leaving England in possession of Louisiana).

After close and careful study, the writer presents as a summary of his
conclusion as to the value of the Battle of New Orleans:

First, that it was a highly necessary battle on the part of the United
States, rendered so by British aggression;

Second, that the statement in school and other histories that it was
fought after peace is entirely false, the Peace Treaty itself being
evidence. (All historians, past, present, and to come, cannot change the
text of that Treaty);

Third, that it saved the Louisiana Purchase to the United States or
averted another war with England;

Fourth, that it settled forever the question of the title to Louisiana;

Fifth, that it created a profound impression on the world. Speaking, as
one orator has put it, in language all nations could understand, that
the young American Republic had the will to be free and the power to
enforce that will;

Sixth, that it marked the last time that the foot of a foreign foe has
been set on American soil, except when Mexico invaded Texas in 1846;

Seventh, that it practically added to the Peace Treaty that impressment
and orders in council would no longer be imposed by England, for these
obnoxious policies were never sought to be revived;

Eighth, that it saved this sorely harassed, nearly treason-torn country,
at a critical time in its life, from threatened and possible disunion,
and re-established national self-respect;

Ninth, that it made Andrew Jackson a national hero, resulting in his
election as President of the United States, and the establishment of
what is known as the Jackson era;

Tenth, that it resulted in mutual respect and friendship between the
United States and England, which has endured to this day, and which it
is hoped will perpetually endure.

Could any battle have had a greater or more varied effect?

School historians and other historians, in appraising the battle as a
needless and useless one, do violence to truth and grossly impose upon
Young America, as well as America in general.

The underlying American sentiment of honor, truth and justice demands
revision of these school histories, and that right speedily.

In conclusion, the writer recommends, as revision, in those histories
which desire to dispose of the Battle of New Orleans in a paragraph, the

The Battle of New Orleans, fought January 8, 1815, was one of the most
brilliant defensive victories in history. Many historians have classed
it as a needless victory in that it was fought after peace. That is an
error, for the Peace Treaty, signed by the Commissioners of the two
countries, December 24, 1814, specifically provided that it should not
be effective until ratified by both sides. It was not ratified by the
United States until February 17, 1815, soon after its reception. The
news of the victory came at a critical time in the history of the
country, and was received with great enthusiasm everywhere. It settled
forever all question as to the title of the United States to Louisiana.
It saved Louisiana, or a least averted another war with England. It
resulted in lasting, solid peace with England, which should permanently
endure. As illustration of the character of that peace, it may be
pointed out that the boundary line between the United States and Canada
extending about three thousand miles, has not, on either side, a fort or
fortification. God help the English-speaking people if one should ever
be necessary!

                               _The End._


                    WORDING OF THE TREATY OF GHENT.

In addition to the references cited on pages 18 and 30 as to the full
text of the Treaty of Ghent reference may be given to volume compiled by
Hunter Miller entitled: “Treaties and Other International Acts of the
United States of America.” (See volume 2, pages 574-584.)


The third and fourth paragraphs of the note of the British Commissioners
to the American Commissioners at Ghent October 8, 1814, read as follows:

In adverting for this purpose to the acquisition of Louisiana, the
undersigned must observe that the instrument by which the consent of His
Catholic Majesty is alleged to have been given to the cession of it has
never been made public. His Catholic Majesty was no party to the treaty
by which the cession was made, and if any sanction has been subsequently
obtained from him, it must have been, like other contemporaneous acts of
that monarch, involuntary, and, as such, cannot alter the character of
the transaction. The Marquis of Yrujo, the minister of His Catholic
Majesty at Washington, in a letter addressed to the President of the
United States, formally protested against the cession, and the right of
France to make it; yet in the face of this protestation, so strongly
evincing the decided opinion of Spain as to the illegality of the
proceeding, the President of the United States ratified the treaty. Can
it be contended that the annexation of Louisiana, under such
circumstances, did not mark a spirit of territorial aggrandizement?

His Britannic Majesty did certainly express satisfaction when the
American Government communicated the event that Louisiana, a valuable
colony in the possession of France, with whom the war had just been
renewed, instead of remaining in the hands of his enemy, had been ceded
to the United States, at that time professing the most friendly
disposition towards Great Britain, and an intention of providing for her
interest in the acquisition. But the conditions under which France had
acquired Louisiana from Spain were not communicated; the refusal of
Spain to consent to its alienation was not known; the protest of her
ambassador had not been made; and many other circumstances attending the
transaction, on which it is now unnecessary to dilate, were, as there is
good to believe, industriously concealed. (From American State Papers,
Foreign Relations, Volume III, page 721.)

The reply of the American Commissioners is quoted on page 26 of this

(Author’s note: From the foregoing we can better understand the refusal
of the British Commissioners to discuss the northern boundary of
Louisiana as proposed in American note of November 10. See page 26, this

                      THE UTI POSSIDETIS PROPOSAL.

The note of the British Commissioners, October 21, 1814, contained the
following paragraph:

In regard to other boundaries, the American plenipotentiaries, in their
note of August 24, appeared in some measure to object to the
propositions then made by the undersigned, as not being on the basis of
uti possidetis. The undersigned are willing to treat on that basis,
subject to such modifications as mutual convenience may be found to
require; and they trust that the American plenipotentiaries will show,
by their ready acceptance of this basis, that they duly appreciate the
moderation of His Majesty’s Government in so far consulting the honor
and fair pretensions of the United States as, in the relative situation
of the two countries, to authorize such a proposition. (From American
State Papers, Foreign Relations, Volume III.)

(Author’s note: This is an adroit effort to put upon the Americans the
initial suggestion of the Uti Possidetis. The Americans, after seeing
the futility of any treaty agreement as to impressment and trade
restriction, adhered steadily to the Status Quo Ante Bellum basis. They
rejected the Uti Possidetis principle. It should be borne in mind that
at the time of the above note the secret expedition against Louisiana,
assembling in Nigril Bay, Jamaica, was nearing completion.)


On November 10, 1814, the American Commissioners submitted a _projet_ of
a treaty containing in article one the statement that “All hostilities,
both by sea and land, shall immediately cease,” and in article fifteen
the statement that “This treaty, when the same shall have been ratified
on both sides, and the respective ratifications mutually exchanged,
shall be binding upon both parties, and the ratifications shall be
exchanged at ______ in the space of ______ months from this day, or
sooner if possible.”

On November 26 the British Commissioners returned the _projet_, altered
to read that “All hostilities, both by sea and land, shall cease after
the exchange of ratifications as hereafter mentioned,” and that “This
treaty, when the same shall have ratified on both sides, and the
ratifications mutually exchanged, shall be binding on both parties, and
the ratifications shall be exchanged at Washington with all practical
despatch, in the space of ______ months from this day, or sooner if

On November 30, 1814, the American Commissioners stated in a note to the
British Commissioners:

The undersigned consent that the day of the exchange of the
ratifications be substituted to that of the signature of the treaty as
the time for the cessation of hostilities, and for regulating the
periods after which prizes at sea shall be restored; it being understood
that measures shall be adopted for a speedy exchange of ratifications.
(American State Papers, Foreign Relations, Volume III.)

(Author’s note: It will thus be seen that the British proposed the date
of ratification as the time of the effectiveness of the treaty, and the
cessation of hostilities, and that the Americans consented, thus
carrying into the treaty the provision so uniformly overlooked by our

                         PASSAMAQUODDY ISLANDS.

(Author’s note: There was towards the end of the negotiations at Ghent
much and voluminous correspondence, mainly on the part of the British,
concerning the question involved in the Passamaquoddy Islands situation;
it was magnified, admittedly, out of proportion to the subject involved,
especially in view of the fact that the final disposition of these
fisheries was relegated to a civil commission to meet after peace. The
British, while conceding the relative insignificance of the islands,
maintained that a question of honor was involved which might “prove an
insuperable bar to the conclusion of peace at the present time.” In
reading the mass of British correspondence on the subject of these
islands one is forced to the conclusion that there was an underlying


The American _projet_ of November 10 contained also the proposition that
all territory, places, and possessions “taken by either party from the
other during the war, or which may be taken after the signing of this
treaty, shall be restored.”

The _projet_ returned on November 26 by the British Commissioners was
altered to read all territory, places, and possessions, “belonging to
either party and taken by the other during the war, or which may be
taken after the signing of this treaty, shall be restored.”

The protocol of a conference of the American and British Commissioners,
held on December 1, contained the following statements:

At a conference held this day, the American plenipotentiaries proposed
the following alterations in their _projet_, as amended by the British
plenipotentiaries: 1st—In article I, strike out the alteration
consisting of the words “belonging to,” and “taken by,” and preserve the
original reading, viz: “taken by either party from the other.”

This alteration was objected to by the British plenipotentiaries, and,
after some discussion, reserved by them for the consideration of their
Government. (Ibid., pages 735, 742.)

(Author’s note: The American Commissioners stated in a note December 14,
to the British Commissioners that they agreed to accept the British
proposal to “omit the words originally offered by them,” provided that
the Passamaquoddy Islands should alone be excepted from the mutual
restoration of territory. See American State Papers, Volume III, pages
743, 744, for full text of note. Also for text of letter from British
Commissioners to British Government as of December 13, see Photostat in
Library of Congress from Public Record Office, London—Foreign Office 5,
Vol. 102. Thus in the mutual restoration clause of the treaty the words
“all places, points, and ‘possessions’ whatsoever,” went in, without the
clarifying term as to “possessions” proposed by the British. Did the
British Government deem the clarification essential? Evidence, too
strong for disbelief, shows it did not. The secret expedition against
Louisiana was then well on its way, and expected to be in possession of
New Orleans any day, with the full set of civil officers, carried on
Admiral Cochran’s fleet, installed and in control. Evidence has been
given showing the anxiety of British officials, after the signing of the
treaty, as to its ratification by President Madison. If the British
plans against Louisiana had succeeded would President Madison have
ratified the treaty? That is a fair question for College debate.)

                          Transcriber’s Notes

—Retained publication information from the printed edition: this eBook
  is public-domain in the country of publication.

—Silently corrected palpable typos; left non-standard spellings and
  dialect unchanged.

—In the text versions only, text in italics is delimited by

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