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Chapter 2

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
History of North Carolina

The Lewis Publishing Company
Chicago and New York, 1919
Volume II by
William K. Boyd

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Chapter 4
This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

Vol. II
p47
Chapter 3
Federalists and Republicans, 1790‑1815

Party Issues — The Political Revolution of 1800 — The War of 1812

In the election for the first Congress the federalists were successful. Both the senators chosen by the legislature, Samuel Johnston and Benjamin Hawkins, were federalists. Three of the representatives, Williamson, John Steele, and John Sevier, were also federalists, while their opponents succeeded in electing only two, John B. Ashe and Timothy Bloodworth.

Political interest centered around the financial program of Alexander Hamilton, which appealed to the commercial and financial rather than to the agricultural sections of the country. The assumption of state debts was condemned in resolutions of the legislature which declared that assumption without the consent of the states would be "an infringement of the sovereignty of this state, and prove eventually injurious and oppressive."1 The senators and representatives were directed to prevent the evil operations of such acts in any future assumption. Senator Johnston favored the funding of the national debt, but desired that distinction should be made between original purchasers and speculators. In the meantime the congressmen did not arrive at New York until after the funding of the national debt was provided for, but their vote did prevent temporarily the assumption of the state debts. The objections of North Carolina to this measure were well stated by Williamson; that it would increase the burden of taxation, that North Carolina p48had already imposed taxes to meet its Revolutionary debt, that one of the amendments to the Constitution recommended at the Hillsboro convention was that no state should be interfered with in the redemption of its paper currency or the liquidation of its securities, that no settlement should be made by the Federal Government until the accounts of each state in the United States should be settled, and that if any debt were assumed it should consist of the amount due from the Federal Government to the states. In the end there was a compromise, the national capital being located in the South in return for sufficient votes to carry the assumption bill. However the North Carolina delegation unanimously voted against assumption, and the legislature filed the following protest:

Resolved, That the assumption of state debts by the Congress of the United States, without their particular consent, is an infringement on the sovereignty of this state, and may prove eventually injurious and oppressive to the same, dangerous to its interests, and senators and representatives are directed to prevent evil operation of such acts in future assumptions.2

No less unanimous was the opposition of North Carolina to the excise. Resolutions were adopted by the legislature instructing its senators to oppose the measure. Distant markets made money scarce and price high; hence the surplus grain crop was distilled into whiskey and was peddled by the farmers on their way to market, thus becoming an important money product. John Steele, federalist, declared "a more exceptional mode of taxation could not be devised than the excise. A direct or poll tax would not be so odious. Such was the aversion of the people to it that they would prefer almost any alternative."3 In order to equalize the burden, Williamson suggested that taxes should also be levied on beer and cider, and on the final vote Steele and Williamson, as well as Ashe and Bloodworth, were in the opposition. Resistance to the excise was threatened in the western counties, but the following year the law was revised, exempting the p49smaller stills from the tax, and so relieving most of the North Carolina farmers from its operation.

On the bank bill there was a division among the North Carolina representatives, Sevier and Steele favoring, and Ashe, Bloodworth and Williamson opposing it. The Jay treaty of 1795 was also the source of considerable criticism. The objection on the part of North Carolina was made by Holland, who declared that article nine, which enabled aliens to hold land in the United States, would put in jeopardy titles in the Granville district, which had been taken over by the state during the Revolution, and that if the article was ratified and applied to the lands in question, it would be resisted by force.4 Likewise the provision in the treaty for the liquidation of British debts was contrary to the interests of the commercial classes in Eastern Carolina. On the final vote all the North Carolina congressmen except one, William B. Grove, voted with the opposition.

Interesting also to note was the prevalent feeling towards the act of 1789 organizing the federal judiciary. Davie, staunch defender of the federal system in 1788, wrote that the judiciary act was "so defective in point of arrangement, and so obscurely drawn, or expressed, that, in my opinion, it would disgrace the composition of the meanest legislature of the State."5 Even Samuel Johnston, arch-federalist, wrote from Philadelphia:— "The House have not given up the idea of a reform in the judicial system; I do everything in my power to keep it up."6

The reaction against federalist policies was not confined to speeches and votes in Congress. Within the state there was a strong sentiment against various measures of Washington's administration. In 1790 the House of Commons refused to take an oath to support the Federal Constitution. In the same year also a state court of equity refused to obey a writ of certiorari issued by the Federal District Court ordering a case to be brought before it, and the legislature passed a vote of thanks to the state judges for their action. p50Nor was this restiveness toward centralizing tendencies confined to the opposition. In 1793 James Iredell, who had been appointed a member of the United States Supreme Court by Washington, wrote a dissenting opinion in the case of Chisholm vs. Georgia, holding that Chisholm could not sue the State of Georgia, on the ground that the states were completely sovereign in regard to the powers they had not delegated to the Federal Government. This was the first states' rights opinion emanating from the court; Iredell's theory of divided sovereignty became the working theory of the Federal Government, and was a factor in that public opinion which resulted in the twelfth amendment.

Federalist conception of the relation of senators and congressmen to state authority also played a part in the reaction against the party. Prior to the adoption of the Constitution it had been the custom for the state's delegates in the Continental Congress to correspond with the governor regarding national affairs and to visit the annual sessions of the legislature, and to take instructions from the body that elected them. Gradually under the new regime there developed an aversion to this tradition. First to revolt were the senators; Johnston and Hawkins did not give an account of their stewardship at the sessions of the legislature, and Johnston voted for the excise bill, against which instructions had been adopted. Hence, early as 1790 the legislature adopted resolutions directing senators to use their efforts for open sessions of the Senate, and that they correspond with the legislature when it was in session and with the governor between sessions. On the expiration of Johnston's term in 1792, he was replaced by Alexander Martin. Although the federalist members of the lower house were not yet in revolt against the idea of responsibility to the legislature, the reaction against their party reached its height in 1793 when the republicans carried all the congressional districts save one the Cape Fear, and from then to the end of our early party history the republicans elected a majority of the North Carolina congressmen. President Washington himself was not spared partisan criticism. In 1794 Timothy Bloodworth made an issue of the President's neutrality proclamation, was p51elected to the legislature, and became senator in 1795 in place of Hawkins. In Congress the reply to Washington's last address was criticized by Nathaniel Macon as too adulatory, and Macon, Blount, Holland, and Matthew Locke voted against its adoption. In the presidential election of 1796 Adams received only one electoral vote from North Carolina.

The revolt of the state from federalist control did not escape the attention of republican leaders elsewhere. By 1798 there was a movement to induce North Carolina to join in a revolt against the alien and sedition laws. John Taylor, of Caroline, Virginia, suggested to Thomas Jefferson that Virginia and North Carolina secede and form the nucleus of a new confederation. Jefferson was equally dissatisfied with federalist policies, but he placed union above section. "If we reduce our union to Virginia and North Carolina," he wrote, "immediately the conflict will be established between the representatives of these two small states and they will end by breaking into other simple units."7 Jefferson therefore suggested that a protest only be made against the notorious alien and sedition acts, and that North Carolina join with Virginia in that protest. However, in 1798 there was a strong federalist reaction in North Carolina; hence Kentucky was chosen by Jefferson to join in the protest instead of North Carolina, and the articles adopted were known as the Virginia-Kentucky resolutions.

The cause of the federalist reaction referred to was resentment toward the French government, its perfidy and insult to the United States being revealed in the X. Y. Z. Correspondence. The war fever was aroused, federalists and republicans rallying to the support of the President. In the local elections of 1798 the federalists won a majority in the State Senate, Davie was elected governor by the legislature, and in the congressional elections six districts went federalist. An address to the President of the United States, expressing loyalty and co-operation, was drafted by the legislature. Consequently when the Kentucky resolutions were submitted to the legislature of North Carolina there was no p52response; in the Senate resolutions instructing the state's delegation in Congress to work for the repeal of the alien and sedition laws were defeated, but similar resolutions were adopted in the Commons, where the republicans had a majority. Also Alexander Martin failed to be reelected to the United States Senate on account of his vote for the alien and sedition laws; his successor was Jesse Franklin.

Such was the drift of politics as the presidential election of 1800 approached. The federalists, encouraged by recent victories, hoped to carry the state for Adams. But the issue of war with France was removed by the treaty of 1799. Hence the federalist appeal to loyalty could apply only to the reports of secession sentiment in Virginia. To assure victory a bill was introduced in the legislature of 1799 to place the choice of presidential electors in the legislature. It was defeated by a small republican majority in the House. The early federalist prospects for victory did not mature. The party experienced a loss of leadership. Iredell died in 1799, Samuel Johnston was in his dotage, Davie resigned as governor to accept a mission to France, and was abroad when the election took place. Moreover Spaight and Stone, two of the congressmen elected in 1798, demanded a repeal of the alien and sedition laws and finally left the party. Contemporary with this loss of leadership by the federalists, a new and powerful factor did much to rally the republicans. This was the Raleigh Register, the first republican newspaper in the state. It was established in 1799, its first number appearing on October 22. Its editor was Joseph Gales, an English radical, who had been forced to leave his native country on account of the opinions contained in his paper, the Sheffield Register. In 1795 he arrived in Philadelphia and soon became known as an expert reporter of proceedings in Congress. Realizing the need of a party organ in North Carolina, Nathaniel Macon and other republicans persuaded Mr. Gales to come to Raleigh and establish the Register. The editorials were spirited and readable, and during the campaign copies of the paper were sent to a large number of doubtful voters free of charge. Alarmed by the aggressiveness of the Register, William Boylan, editor of the Minerva, p53moved his paper, which was federalist, from Fayetteville to Raleigh. Thus begins the history of the partisan press in North Carolina. An interesting incident was a physical conflict between the two editors on the streets of Raleigh. Gales brought suit for damages against Boylan. The trial was removed to Hillsboro. The jury awarded the plaintiff damages of £100, and Gales, after paying the attorney's fees, donated the remainder to the Raleigh Academy. The influence of Gales and his paper extended beyond the confines of North Carolina. He secured an interest in the National Intelligencer, organ of the republicans at Washington, and in 1807 Joseph Gales, Jr., became the congressional reporter and in 1810 sole owner of the Intelligencer. In 1812 he was joined in the ownership by his brother, William W. Gales, who p54had for three years been associated with the elder Gales in the Register. On the retirement of Joseph Gales, Sr., the editorship of the Register was continued by his son, Western R. Gales.

(p53)

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Joseph Gales

The result of the presidential election of 1800 was a victory for the republicans. However, the federalists secured four of the electoral votes, quite a gain over the vote of 1796. This was undoubtedly due to the reaction against France and the strong appeal to conserve the Union made by the federalists.

The election of 1800 marks a revolution in American politics, a decisive victory of the Jeffersonian republicans over federalism, yet as far as North Carolina was concerned there was in the election no guarantee of permanent supremacy. The four electoral votes for Adams suggest a rugged independence when contrasted with the solid vote of Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia for Jefferson. There were also four federalist congressmen, and until the end of the Second War with England the Salisbury, Fayetteville, and Edenton districts manifested distrust of republican measures. Some of the clergy were also hostile to the recent political change: a minister in Orange County prayed that "God would send the name of Republicanism to its native Hell." Moreover federalistic ideals had attracted men of ability, vision, and character. With the return of Davie from France early in 1801, plans were laid for opposition to the new regime. Consequently Jefferson and his advisors did not rest easy with laurels recently won. A new weapon was found in the federal patronage. Macon wished to make party loyalty the sole test for appointment; instead, Jefferson adopted the policy of offering certain high offices to federalists in order to weaken their party allegiance. Hence Benjamin Hawkins was appointed one of the commissioners to the Creek Indians, and was also consulted concerning other appointments. Davie likewise accepted a commission to treat with those Tuscarora Indians who had not removed from North Carolina. John Steele, first Comptroller of the United States Treasury, remained in office until his resignation in 1802.

The undoing of the North Carolina federalists was not p55accomplished by Jefferson's seductive policy but by their indifference, if not resistance, to the popular will. This was disclosed in their attitude toward the repeal of the Judiciary Act of 1801. By that law the federalists had increased the number of circuits and created a number of circuit judgeships to which President Adams had appointed federalists. One of Jefferson's measures of reform was to have the law repealed on the ground that it was unnecessary. The North Carolina legislature, thoroughly in sympathy with the Jeffersonian idea, instructed the senators and recommended to the representatives, to vote for the repeal. However the four federalist members of the House from North Carolina disregarded the recommendation and voted against repeal. Their explanation was partly expediency, that an increase of circuits and judges was actually needed, and also constitutionality, that the repeal of the law violated the independence of the judiciary. Two of the members defended at length their vote before the House. Stanly declared: "Should this measure pass it will be the first link in that chain of measures which will add the name of America to the melancholy catalogue of fallingº republics." Henderson exclaimed: "If the doctrine intended by the gentleman of the other side of the House should become the settled construction of the Constitution and enlightened America acquiesce with that construction, I declare for myself, for myself alone, I would not heave a sigh or shed a tear over its total dissolution. The wound you are about to give it will be mortal; it may languish out a mere existence for a few years, but it will surely die. It will neither serve to protect its friends nor defend itself from the omnipotent energies of its enemies. Better at once to bury it with all our hopes."8 These remarks clearly indicate a lack of sympathy of the federalists with Jeffersonian ideals. Failure to heed the instructions of the legislature raised the issue of responsibility to the popular will, and in the election of 1804 there was a reaction, the state sending a solid republican delegation to Congress. An interesting incident of the campaign was the contest between Davie and Alston p56in the Halifax district. Alston was victorious and Davie, chagrined at defeat, retired from politics and from the state, spending the remaining years of his life on his plantation on the Catawba River in South Carolina.

The victory over federalism was not followed by unanimity toward dominant republican policies. The same independence that characterized federalism in North Carolina was also a feature of the republican party. Illustrative was the attitude of Nathaniel Macon. As Jefferson was the idealogue of democracy, Macon personified democracy through character. Honesty, economy, simplicity, and the rights of the states as the best protection of the agricultural interests, were principles concerning which he was uncompromising. Elected Speaker of the House of Representatives in 1801 in recognition of North Carolina's loyalty to the republican cause, he soon realized that his ideals did not permit an unqualified support of the administration. With the impeachment of the federalist judges he had little sympathy, believing that public opinion did not demand it. He opposed the policy of the government to recognize the validity of the land grants which had been made and then revoked by the legislature of Georgia in the Yazoo district, which had been ceded to the United States in 1802. With the co-operation of John Randolph of Virginia he was successful in his opposition, for no settlement of the claims was made until 1814, after their validity had been established by the Supreme Court. Moreover, Macon did not favor the rise of Madison to power, who was slated for the presidential succession, but preferred Gallatin of Pennsylvania. How stiff-necked the Speaker might become is shown by his vote on the resolution submitting the twelfth amendment to the Constitution to the states; it lacked one vote to make the required two‑thirds majority. Macon claimed the right, as a member of the House, to cast a vote for the measure, overruled the opinion that the Speaker's vote was limited to tie cases, and thus the amendment was submitted.

Macon was not alone in his disaffection. Of one mind with him were John Randolph, of Virginia, whom Macon appointed chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, and Nicholson, of Maryland. These insurgents were known as the p57"Quids," and frequently voting with them were Richard Stanford, of Hillsboro, Thomas Wynns, of Hertford, and Joseph Winston, of Surry County. In 1806 rank and file of the House became restive over the disaffection of these members. In order to shelve Randolph as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, there was a movement to take from the Speaker the right of appointing standing committees. It failed by only two votes. Macon, yielding to the desire of the majority, appointed Joseph Clay of Pennsylvania to head the committee of which Randolph had been chairman since 1801. The following year Macon himself lost the speakership; he then became reconciled to the leadership of Madison and also broke with Randolph.

In the meantime foreign affairs became the dominant national problem. In the efforts toward their solution Macon and his colleagues from North Carolina manifested their independence. In reply to England's interference with American trade, Congress in April, 1806, enacted the non-importation law, which prohibited the importation from England of such goods as could be manufactured in the United States. It was criticized by Macon, who feared war would result, by pointing out that any diminution of the customs would require increase of the internal taxes, which would be a burden to the South. However, at the final vote on the measure the only North Carolinian in opposition was Richard Stanford. Non-importation was a failure. It was followed by grave insults over the right of search and a more drastic interference with American shipping by the French decrees and the British orders in council. Upon Jefferson's recommendation Congress adopted the embargo act of 1807, which forbade American ships to engage in foreign trade. Macon did not approve of the measure, and on the final vote five of the North Carolina representatives were among the nays, Blackledge, Alexander, Culpepper, Holland, and Stanford. The embargo forced no concession from Europe and created discontent at home. It was superseded by the non-intercourse act of 1809, which prohibited trade with France and England, but sanctioned it with the countries not under their control. Again p58the North Carolina delegation was divided. Macon favored continuance of the embargo, believing total severance of trade relations to be the best guarantee against war, and of like mind were Blackledge, Blount, and Stanford. When negotiations with England proved fruitless, Macon, as chairman of the special committee on foreign relations, introduced a measure which, if adopted, might have forced England to terms and so have avoided war. Its principle was that of the British navigation acts, closing the ports of the United States to British and French ships and admitting goods of those nations only when imported directly in American vessels. This was an administration measure framed after consultation with Madison and Gallatin. Although it passed the House, it met defeat in the Senate, due to a faction in the party bitterly hostile to Gallatin. Thereupon in April, 1810, Macon reported a new measure, really the work of Taylor of South Carolina. It repealed the non-intercourse act, making commercial relations free, but authorized the President to prohibit trade with England or France in case one of them revoked its commercial decree. The law was known as Macon Bill No. 2. It proved ineffective. Napoleon promised revocation of the French decrees. Madison thereupon suspended intercourse with England, but Napoleon did not fulfill his promise, and the French continued to seize American ships. These results were doubtless no surprise to Macon, for he had voted against the law, and likewise Archibald McBryde, John Stanly, and Richard Stanford.

The demoralization of trade resulting from the failure to adjust foreign relations threatened a party crisis in North Carolina. In 1808 three of the electoral votes were cast for Pinckney, federalist candidate, and in the congressional campaign also the federalists carried four districts, William Kennedy being elected from the Tarboro, Archibald McBryde from the Fayetteville, Joseph Pearson from the Salisbury, and John Stanly from the Newbern district. Moreover there was division in the republican ranks. Willis Alston of the Halifax district showed marked independence by voting for the recharter of the national bank in 1811. p59Lemuel Sawyer, of Edenton, denounced efforts at compromise in foreign relations, and declared that only war would meet the situation, while Richard Stanford often voted with the federalists. Hence as the presidential election of 1812 approached, there was alarm lest the federalists carry the state. To prevent such a catastrophe, the legislature of 1811 transferred the choice of electors from the people to the legislature in order that Madison might receive the full vote of the state. However the measure proved unpopular. In the legislature of 1812 there were sixty federalists, among them Gaston, Steele, Stanly, Grove, and Henderson. Nor was the measure popular with the republicans. James Mebane, the member who had introduced it, was defeated by Murphey, and when the legislature of 1812 met, the federalists and anti-electoral republicans procured the repeal of the law and the adoption of a resolution proposing an amendment to the Federal Constitution guaranteeing popular choice of electors. In the meantime the war fever increased, especially in the Southwest, and war was declared on England on July 18, 1812. However, Pearson, McBryde, and Stanford voted against the declaration, and David Stone, elected senator in 1812, was soon out of sympathy with the policy of the Government.

The war aroused considerable martial response in North Carolina. The call for 7,000 militia by the federal authorities, the state's quota of 100,000 to be detached for United States service, was met almost entirely by volunteers. However the problems of equipment and coast defense were serious and became the subject of controversy. According to state law members of the militia should arm and equip themselves, a task well-nigh impossible considering the unusual number called out. Moreover the kind of arms used in the United States service was not to be had, because the act of Congress of 1808 requiring a deposit of federal arms among the states had not been complied with so far as North Carolina was concerned. Hence equipment for the militia was not secured until the legislature appropriated $50,000 for supplies and $25,000 for arms in 1813, and $55,000 for arms in 1814. Reimbursement for these expenditures became a matter of controversy p60between the state and federal governments, and the matter to this day has not been settled. The coast defenses were inadequate. At Wilmington were half a dozen gun boats, all out of commission. Shortly before the war opened companies of regular troops at Fort Johnston, below Wilmington, and Fort Hampton, near Beaufort, were withdrawn. Thus the state was virtually unprotected from invasion. In May, 1813, citizens of Beaufort and Wilmington petitioned Governor Hawkins concerning defense. The Governor in turn laid the case before the War Department, and Senators Stone and Turner interviewed President Madison.

Anxiety was well grounded, for on July 11, 1813, Admiral Cockburn, with a fleet of one seventy-four, three frigates, one brig, and three schooners appeared off the coast, entered Ocracoke Inlet, landed at Portsmouth and Shell Castle, seized two American vessels,a destroyed considerable personal property, and impressed live stock. Governor Hawkins at once organized a relief expedition, consisting of the militia of the central and eastern counties, but the British sailed southward for Florida without attacking Beaufort or Wilmington. There were no further raids of sufficient import to call out the militia. The only activities of the North Carolina troops during the war were beyond the boundaries of the state. In 1814 a regiment was sent to the Creek country and another to Norfolk, Virginia, and in 1815 a third was ordered for service on the Southern frontier of the United States.

The state's martial association with the conflict was principally through the achievements of three individuals, Otway Burns, Johnston Blakeley, and Benjamin Forsythe. Of these three Burns only operated from North Carolina. When the war began, he was in command of a merchantman plying between Newbern and Portland, Maine. At once he purchased a larger and swifter ship, which he named the "Snap Dragon," took out letters of marque and reprisal, organized a stock company to defray initial expenses, and for two years preyed on British commerce all the way from Newfoundland to South America. The amount of spoils taken is unknown, but one voyage brought in $2,500,000 worth. Auctions of

p61

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Congressional Medal of Honor
of Captain Johnston Blakeley

p62 the booty held in Newbern were attended by merchants and traders and were advertised as far west as Raleigh. In June, 1814, the "Snap Dragon," then under command of a lieutenant, was captured by the British. Other privateers plying from North Carolina ports were the "Lovely Lass," of Wilmington, the "Hero," of Newbern, and the "Hawk," of Washington.

In the navy lasting fame was achieved by Johnston Blakeley. A native of Ireland, educated at the University of North Carolina, he became a midshipman in 1800 and by July, 1813, had risen to the rank of master commandant. In charge of the "Enterprise," he captured the British brig of the same name, and was then transferred to the "Wasp," a sloop built after the war opened, with an armament of twenty thirty-two pounders and two eighteen-pounders. Running the British blockade at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Blakeley sailed straight for the English channel, and for two months during the summer of 1814 he was the terror of English merchantmen. He also won two naval victories, one over the British brig "Reindeer," for which Congress voted him a gold medal, the other over the sloop "Avon." His ship mysteriously disappeared in August, 1814.

In the army laurels were won by Benjamin Forsythe. A native of Stokes County, he was appointed second lieutenant of the Sixth United States Infantry in 1800, but was soon after honorably discharged. In 1808 he re-entered the service as captain, and in 1813 was promoted to the rank of major, and in 1814 to that of lieutenant-colonel. During the war his regiment was stationed at Ogdensburg on Canadian frontier, and was very active in operations along the St. Lawrence River, notably in the capture of Elizabethtown, in February, 1813, and of Fort George in May of the same year. Forsythe himself was slain in a skirmish near Odelltown on June 28, 1814.

Notable as were the achievements of Blakeley and Forsythe, their most memorable service was to awaken in North Carolina a sentiment of state pride and public spirit. The legislature voted Blakeley a sword; when it became known that the "Wasp" and her commander were lost, the legislature p63also resolved to make his infant daughter, Udney Maria, a ward of the state, by providing for her education. Likewise, the legislature made a ward of Forsythe's son, James N., by providing for his education. Annual appropriations were made for young Forsythe until 1825, when he left the University and entered the navy. Then the lump sum of $750 was ordered to be invested for him, principal and interest to be paid upon reaching his maturity. However the young man lost his life in the wreck of the "Adinet" in 1829 before he received the endowment established for him. The annual appropriation for Maria Blakeley was continued until 1829. The interest and generosity shown by these appropriations were in strong contrast to the apathy toward public causes that had prevailed in earlier years and marked the dawn of a new epoch in public expenditures.

The most important aspect of the war so far as North Carolina was concerned was its political aspects. The conflict opened during a reaction against the leaders of the republican party, caused by the act of 1811 which placed the choice of presidential electors in the legislature rather than the people. Consequently sixty federalists were returned to the legislature of 1812, and in the House of Commons John Steele was defeated for the speakership by a vote of 64 to 59. The obnoxious electoral law was repealed and resolutions were adopted recommending an amendment to the Federal Constitution guaranteeing to the people the choice of presidential electors. Failure of the Federal Government to improve coast defenses was the subject of protest in the session of 1813. Resolutions that were really a censure of the War Department were defeated after a warm debate; a more moderate memorial was adopted expressing disappointment at the neglect of coast defenses in the past and asking protection for the future. The memorial was presented to the President; the only result was an inspection of the defenses by an agent of the War Department. The same session failed to provide for the assumption of the state's quota of the federal land tax.

Criticism and defense of the national administration also p64pervaded federal politics. Secret sessions and curtailment of debate in Congress in the early months of the war aroused protest by a number members, a magistrate whom was Joseph Pearson. In 1812 a public meeting in Mecklenburg condemned his attitude, while another in Rowan approved it and also declared that the war was unwise and should be brought to an end. In the congressional elections of 1813 the issue of direct taxes or honorable peace was raised. Four federalist congressmen were elected, Joseph Pearson, John Culpepper, William Gaston, and Richard Stanford. In Congress they joined with fellow partisans from New England and the middle states in opposing various war measures. Culpepper, Gaston, and Pearson all voted against the salt taxes of 1813, Stanford joined them in opposing the tax on liquor dealers, Culpepper, Pearson, and Stanford fought the embargo of 1813, and Gaston joined them in a demand for non-interference with the coastwise trade and the successful movement for its repeal. Culpepper, Pearson, and Stanford voted against the military appropriation of March, 1814, and all four voted against the loan bill of that month authorizing the issue of $25,000,000 in bonds. The chief spokesman of the group was Gaston. Bitter in denouncing the American policy that had precipitated war, he opposed military operations in Canada while negotiations were pending with England, early in 1814, and held before Congress the spectre of a slave insurrection in the South in case of a British invasion. How strong was the spirit of partisanship is illustrated by an incident of January 21, 1814. Eppes, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, read to the House the report of the Secretary of the Treasury, laying bare a condition of practical bankruptcy. He then turned to Gaston and said:

"Well, sir! Will your party take the government if we will give it up to them?"

"No, sir," replied Gaston. "No, sir! Not until you will give it to us as we gave it to you."9

Criticism of war measures reached a climax in the discussion of the record of David Stone. Elected to the United p65States Senate in 1812, he opposed the embargo of 1813, the appointment of Albert Gallatin as one of the commissioners to Europe in response to Russia's attempt at mediation, and the direct levies on sugar, liquor licenses, and auctioneers as a means of financing the war. A public meeting in Camden County censured Mr. Stone and demanded that he "retire into merited obscurity, vacate his seat in Congress, forbear to let the sound of his unhallowed voice pollute that patriotic sanctuary." In the legislature of 1813 his record became the subject of debate. Resolutions of censure were indefinitely postponed in the House of Commons, but the question was reopened and similar resolutions were sent down for concurrence from the senate. The report of a joint committee was then adopted by both houses, which declared that Senator Stone had "disappointed the reasonable expectations, and incurred the disapprobation of this General Assembly." A protest, however, against the resolutions was filed by a minority. Senator Stone remained impervious to criticism until December, 1814, when he resigned, giving as his reason for such action the pressure of private business. As a parting shot he declared it unwise to continue the embargo, to use the militia in distant operations, to tolerate short terms of enlistment, and to send peace commissioners to Europe.


The Author's Notes:

1 S. R. XX.1055.

[decorative delimiter]

2 Ibid.

[decorative delimiter]

3 Annals, First Cong., II.1848.

[decorative delimiter]

4 Annals, 4th Congress, 1st session, 1129.

[decorative delimiter]

5 McRee's Iredell, II.335.

[decorative delimiter]

6 Ibid.

[decorative delimiter]

7 Jefferson, Writings (Ford Ed.), VII.263.

[decorative delimiter]

8 Annals of 7th Congress, 1st session, 523 ff.; 569 ff.

[decorative delimiter]

9 Perry, Life of George Ticknor, I.31.


Thayer's Note:

a The Atlas and the Anaconda; see briefly D. B. Chidsey, The American Privateers, p132, and in more detail, for the subsequent history of the Atlas (Captain David Moffat), ib., pp122‑125.


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