The Legislature had adjourned on the 6th of February, with full confidence that Louisiana was free from danger; this impression was shared in by the people, and particularly by the militia, who, unused to the hardships and irksome discipline of camp life, were anxious to resume those industrious and profitable pursuits from which they derived their support, and the comforts with which they surrounded their families. The fall of Fort Bowyer they considered as of no importance, and as the last expiring effort of the enemy. Rumors that a treaty of peace had been signed between the United States and Great Britain were also rife and generally credited. This circumstance increased the impatience of the militia to be relieved from military duty. So excited the public became on the subject, that Jackson thought proper, on the 19th of February, to issue the following address:
"Fellow-citizens and Soldiers:
"The flag-vessel which was sent to the enemy's fleet has returned, and brings with it intelligence, extracted from a London p579 paper, that, on the 24th of December, articles of peace were signed at Ghent, by the American Commissioners and those of herº Britannic Majesty.
"We must not be thrown into false security by hopes that may be delusive. It is by holding out such that an artful and insidious enemy too often seeks to accomplish what the utmost exertion of his strength will not enable him to effect. To put you off your guard and attack you by surprise, is the natural expedient of one who, having experienced the superiority of your arms, still hopes to overcome you by stratagem. Though young in the trade of war, it is not by such artifices that he will deceive us.
"Peace, whenever it shall be re-established on fair and honorable terms, is an event in which both nations ought to rejoice; but whether the Articles which are said to have been signed for its restoration will be approved by those whose province it is to give to them their final confirmation, is yet uncertain. Until they shall be ratified by the Prince Regent and the President of the United States, peace, though so much desired, may be still distant. When that shall be done, the happy intelligence will be publicly and speedily announced. In the mean time, every motive that can operate on men who love their country, and are determined not to lose it, calls upon us for increased vigilance and exertion.
"If peace be near at hand, the days of our watchfulness, of our toils, and our privations, will be proportionably few; if it be distant, we shall at any rate hasten its arrival by being constantly and everywhere prepared for war.
"Whatever be the designs of the enemy, we must be ready to meet them. Should he have the temerity to assail us again, we will once more drive him ignominiously from our shore; if he places his hopes of success on stratagem, our watchfulness will disappoint him; if on an exertion of his strength, we have proved how successfully that can be resisted.
"It is true Fort Bowyer has fallen, but it must and will be speedily regained. We will expel the invader from every spot of our soil, and teach him, if he hopes for conquest, how vain it is to seek it in a land of freedom."
These admonitions, although very proper and presented in an impressive manner, failed to produce the intended effect. The tide was ebbing fast in another direction from the one in which General Jackson wished it to run. The militia, as long as they thought that there p580 was a necessity for their being in arms, were all enthusiasm and patriotism; they had been heroes when the country required it; now they wanted to be, as speedily as possible, farmers, merchants, brokers, mechanics, layers, doctors, anything else than a soldier. They were burning to be at home with their wives and children, far away from the tap of the drum, luxuriating, however, in the recollection of past perils and the consciousness of having done their duty. On the 22d, a Gazette of Charleston was received in New Orleans, announcing that the Treaty of Peace had been ratified by the British Government. This intelligence swelled to overflowing the joy which was filling every heart, and the clamor for the disbanding of the militia, or the greater number of them, became louder and louder. The French, who, with the approbation of their consul, Tousard,a for they had not needed his instigation, had flocked to one man around the standard of the country they resided in, and had contributed so effectually to its defence, now that they thought their services no longer a matter of absolute necessity, now that they had enjoyed the satisfaction of seeing their hereditary foe fly utterly discomfited before them, were anxious to resume their independence. In the presence of the hated British flag they had forgotten that their own Government had become friendly to that of Great Britain; they had ceased to be Frenchmen; they had scorned to claim themselves aliens in order to avoid bearing arms; they had become Americans to fight the veterans of Wellington; but this object being once accomplished, they were Frenchmen again, and as such, they asserted their right to leave our ranks as freely as they had entered them. A number of them obtained certificates from Tousard as to their national character, which they presented to General Jackson by whom they were countersigned and the bearers permitted to be discharged. p581 But, in a few days, so many of these certificates were issued, that Jackson suspected them of being improperly granted by Tousard. Remonstrances were made to the Consul, his replies or explanations were not deemed satisfactory, and, on the last day of February, General Jackson published a General Order, commanding all the French subjects to retire into the interior, to a distance not nearer than Baton Rouge. This measure was stated in the Order to have become indispensable by the frequent applications for discharges. The time allowed to leave the city was short; it did not exceed three days, after which, the French remaining in the city were to be registered and remain subject to his further orders. Tousard immediately applied to the Governor for the protection of the French subjects. His answer was, that the Executive of Louisiana had no control over the acts of the federal officer commanding the military district within which its inclosed. "Whether or not," he said, "the rights secured by treaties and the laws of nations to the subjects of His Christian Majesty residing within this State are violated by the General Order of which you complain, is a question not for me to determine. It properly belongs to the judicial power, and there can be no doubt but, on proper application, it will interpose its authority in such manner as justice and the laws shall prescribe." Tousard was, perhaps, preparing to act according to Claiborne's advice, when Jackson, considering that the French Consul was interfering with his authority as Military Commander, ordered him out of the city, which order was instantly obeyed. The French, who were already exasperated, thinking that such a treatment offered to their Consul was a national insult, were fired with indignation, and they talked and acted as people who are in such a state of feeling usually do. Was this the return for all their services tendered p582 spontaneously and greedily accepted? Those who were blinded by passion even asserted that Jackson could have done nothing without the French, and that he had been guided entirely by French officers in all his measures of defence. Were not the fortifications planned by Lafon, Latour and others? Was not Captain St. Geme of the dismounted dragoons, always at his elbow, and suggesting all his military movements? Had not Flaugeac, Beluche, Dominique and Lafitte won the battle of the 8th of January with their artillery? General Jackson, if they were to be believed, could not command a company; he was even ignorant of the very terms used in military science. The saving of New Orleans, if not due to the French, was certainly not due to the capacity of General Jackson, but to the arrant stupidity of the British, who, if they had acted as they should, ought, on the 2d, to have caught the Commander-in‑Chief of the American forces in his bed. Language of this disparaging nature was but too freely used. "Let him treat his Kentuckians and Tennesseeans with his accustomed arrogance," said others, "but we shall teach him that we are not his subjects." These murmurs and threats could not but reach the ears of General Jackson. He was not slow in picking up the gauntlet which had been flung at his feet as soon as he could lay his hands on some responsible individual.
This measure of expulsion adopted against the French was considered by many as harsh and impolitic. It was harsh, because "the people against whom it was directed," says Judge Martin, in his History of Louisiana, "were loyal; many of them had bled, all had toiled and suffered in the defence of the State. Need in many instances, improvidence in several, had induced the families of these people to part with the furniture of their houses to supply those immediate wants which the absence of p583 the head of the family occasioned. No distinction, no exception was made. The sympathetic feelings of every class of inhabitants were enlisted in favor of these men; they lacked the means of sustaining themselves on the way, and must have been compelled on their arrival at Baton Rouge, then a very insignificant village, to throw themselves on the charity of the inhabitants." It was impolitic, because if the British returned, as General Jackson seemed to apprehend, he would discover that he had imprudently dismissed and alienated men whom he had found so useful as artillerists, engineers and soldiers. Thus reasoned those who blamed the General. On the other hand, those who supported him maintained that the French sounded and trumpeted their service too high. True, they were entitled to much gratitude, but, at the same time, they seemed to forget that many of them, although foreigners, had fought to protect their own property; that those who were domiciliated were bound, although aliens, to defend in case of invasion the country where they resided and which protected their persons, whether they had property or not; that those who were not residents, but mere transient persons, could not be permitted to remain within the lines, if they refused to serve; that New Orleans was a camp; and that in a camp all capable of bearing arms must be subject to military duty; that those who complained of the "order" and might suffer from it, had provoked it by their own impatience and want of subordination. It was their own fault. As foreigners, they might perhaps have claimed exemption from enlisting; they might not have volunteered their services; but, as they had, they were, after their services had been accepted, on the same footing with the natives and naturalized, and were bound to abide with them the decision of the Commander-in‑Chief as to the proper time for their discharge. What great p584 hardship was it to wait a few days for the ratification of the treaty of peace? It could not possibly be delayed more than two or three weeks. To be retained in the ranks for so short a time, in a large city where they were among their friends and provided with many comforts, where they had the opportunity of seeing every day their families, who, although suffering privations, were assisted by the City Council, by Legislative appropriations, and by private liberality, and therefore far from starving, was not after all so intolerable a condition. But granting that they suffered as much as they represented, it was for the general good. Their sufferings were but a partial evil; better that, than the country should be endangered. Admitting that there was no necessity for so much caution on the part of General Jackson, could they not appreciate his motives; and if he erred, could they not have some indulgence for the chief who had led them to victory? What object of personal advantage could he obtain by insisting upon detaining them under arms for a few more days? The obvious reason was that he could not permit such a large number of men to leave the army; the rest would be disorganized and could not be kept together. It was further alleged that these manifestations of discontent would not have taken place, if the incident of the 28th of December had not occurred; and that the "French Party" in the Legislature, who had prevailed upon that body to abstain from voting thanks to General Jackson on account of the secret resentment which they felt against him for suspecting them of being traitors, had stirred up the French in the army to desert it. Such were the crimination and recriminations by which the public mind was still more inflamed.
Several respectable citizens called on General Jackson in the hope of inducing him to reconsider his determination p585 to expel the French; but they found him inflexible. This intercession having failed, the French were advised to stay quietly at home. "Let us see," said their leaders, "what the tyrant will do. Let him arrest and drag from the bosom of their families, one by one, those who so lately exposed their lives for him and his country. Let him transport them by brute force where he pleases; let him assume that responsibility; but no expressed or implied assent must be given to this usurpation of authority. The French must protest in a body; they must apply to the judicial tribunals for protection and for the punishment of the man who, in his military arrogance, trampled on the laws of his country and the laws of nations." In the meanwhile, the Northern mail brought the news that the treaty of peace had arrived at Washington on the 14th of February. This grateful intelligence excited a general hope that Jackson would declare martial law at an end, but he was immovable, and remained determined to keep everything on the war footing until he received official notice of the ratification of the treaty by the President and the Senate of the United States. The discontent increased, the murmurs waxed louder and fiercer, and from headquarters there came a rumor that Jackson, far from being intimidated, was preparing to arrest some of the ring-leaders. Then the cry rose that Jackson hated the French; that he had never treated them with proper consideration; that he had always kept aloof from the Creole and French population, whose language he did not understand; that he had, notwithstanding his compliments and honeyed words dictated by policy, entertained against them the most insulting suspicions; that, on his arrival, he had systematically surrounded himself with the "new-comers" in the State, and taken as his confidential advisers men p586 who were notorious for their prejudices against the old population.
To understand the force of this accusation, it must be known that, since thereupon had taken possession of Louisiana in 1803, there had always been in it two parties, designated as the "French" and "American" party, which were bitterly opposed to each other, and invariably pitted in hostile array, particularly in the Legislature. The French party had opposed with violence the annexation to the State of what was called the "Florida Parishes,"1 because it increased the American population and consequently the American influence; and the American party, for the very same reason, hailed it with enthusiasm. It is difficult, at the present time, to convey an adequate idea of the virulence of feeling then entertained by these two parties, and of the jealousies, injustices, and collisions to which it gave rise. It embittered social intercourse, made a perpetual storm of political life, and, at one time, almost threatened the State with civil war.2 It was lamentable, and a sad specimen of human infirmities, to see New Orleans, in the hour of triumph, suddenly transformed into an arena of strife and angry passions, where the citizens seemed ready to fly at each other's throats. In this state of excitement, Louaillier, a native of France, but a naturalized citizen, whom we have mentioned several times as one of the leading and most active members of the House of Representatives, and who, although residing in the county of Oppelousas, had remained in town since the adjournment of the Legislature, gave vent to his imprudent indignation in the following publication which appeared p587 in one of the journals of New Orleans, on the 3d of March:
"Mr. Editor, — To remain silent on the last General Orders, directing all the Frenchmen who now reside in New Orleans, to leave within three days, and to keep at a distance of •120 miles from it, would be an act of cowardice which ought not to be expected from a citizen of a free country; and when every one laments such an abuse of authority, the press ought to denounce it to the people.
"In order to encourage a communication between both countries, the 7th and 8th articles of the treaty of cession secure to the French who shall come to Louisiana, certain commercial advantages which they are to enjoy during a term of twelve years, which are not yet expired. At the expiration of that time, they shall be treated in the same manner as the most favored nation. A peace, which nothing is likely to disturb, uniting both nations, the French have until this moment been treated in the United States with that regard which a great people deserves and requires, even in its reverses, and with that good will which so eminently distinguishes the American Government in its relations with foreign nations. In such circumstances, what can be the motives which have induced the Commander-in‑Chief of the 7th district, to issue general orders of so vexatious a nature? When the foreigners of every nation, when the Spaniards, and even the English, are permitted to remain unmolested among us, shall the French alone be condemned to ostracism, because they rendered too great services? Had they remained idle spectators of the last events, could their sentiments toward us be doubted, then we might merely be surprised at the course now followed with regard to them. But now, are we to restrain our indignation when we remember that these very Frenchmen who are now exiled, have so powerfully contributed to the preservation of Louisiana? Without speaking of the corps who so eminently distinguished themselves, and in which we see a number of Frenchmen rank either as officers or privates, how can we forget that they were French artillerists, who directed and served a part of those pieces of cannon which so greatly annoyed the British forces? Can any one flatters himself that such important services could have so soon been forgotten? No, they are engraved in everlasting characters on the hearts of all the inhabitants of Louisiana, and they shall form a brilliant part in the history of their country; and when those brave men ask no other reward than to be permitted peaceably p588 to enjoy among us the rights secured to them by treaties and the laws of America, far from sharing in the sentiments which have dictated the General Order, we avail ourselves of this opportunity to give them a public testimony of our gratitude.
"Far from us be the idea, that there is a single Frenchman so pusillanimous as to forsake his country merely to please the military commander of this district, and in order to avoid the proscription to which he has condemned them. We may therefore expect to see them repair to the Consul of their nation, there to renew the act which binds them to their country. But supposing that, yielding to a sentiment of fear, they should consent to cease to be French citizens, would they by such an abjuration become American citizens? No, certainly they would not; the man who would be powerful enough to denationalize them, would not be powerful enough to give them a country. It is better, therefore, for a man to remain a faithful Frenchman, than to suffer himself to be scared even by the martial law, a law useless, when the presence of the foe and honor call us to arms, but which becomes degrading, when their shameful flight suffers us to enjoy a glorious rest, which fear and terror ought not to disturb.
"But could it be possible that the Constitution and laws of our country should have left it in the power of the several commanders of military districts, to dissolve all at once the ties of friendship which unite America and the nations of Europe? Would it be possible that peace or war would depend upon their caprice, and the friendship or enmity they might entertain for any nation? We do not hesitate in declaring, that nothing of the kind exists. The President alone has, by law, the right to adopt against alien enemies such measures as a state of war may render necessary, and for that purpose he must issue a proclamation; but this is a power he cannot delegate. It is by virtue of that law and a proclamation that the subjects of Great Britain were removed from our seaports andº sea shores. We do not know any law authorizing General Jackson to apply to alien friends a measure which the President himself has only the right to adopt against alien enemies.
"Our laws protect strangers who come to settle or reside among us. To the Sovereign alone belongs the right of depriving them of that protection; and all those who know how to appreciate the title of an American citizen, and who are acquainted with their prerogatives, will easily understand that, by the Sovereign, I do by no means intend to designate a Major-General, or any other military commander, to whom I willingly grant the power of issuing p589 general orders like the one in question, but to whom I deny that of having them executed.
"If the last General Order has no object but to inspire us with a salutary fear; if it is only destined to be read; if it is not to be followed by any act of violence; if it is only to be obeyed by those who may choose to leave the city in order to enjoy the pure air of the country, we shall forget that extraordinary order; but should any thing else happen, we are of opinion that the tribunals will, sooner or later, do justice to the victims of that illegal order.
"Every alien friend, who shall continue to respect the laws which rule our country, shall continue to be entitled to their protection. Could that General Order be applied to us, we should calmly wait until we were forced by violence to execute it, well convinced of the firmness of the magistrates who are the organs of the law in this part of the Union, and the guardians public order.
"Let us conclude by saying, that it is high time the laws should resume their empire; that the citizens of the State should return to the full enjoyment of their rights; that, in acknowledging that we are indebted to General Jackson for the preservation of our city and the defeat of the British, we do not feel much inclined, through gratitude, to sacrifice any of our privileges, and less than any other, that of expressing our opinion about the acts of his administration; that it is time the citizens accused of any crime should be rendered to their natural judges, and cease to be dealt with before special or military tribunals — a kind of institutions held in abhorrence even in absolute governments; and that having done enough for glory, the time for moderation has arrived; and finally, that the acts of authority which the invasion of our country and our safety may have rendered necessary, are, since the evacuation of it by the enemy, no longer compatible with our dignity and our oath of making the Constitution respected."
The very next day, the 4th, Jackson ordered the arrest of Louaillier, and, in explanation or in support of his order, the publication of the Second Section of the Act of Congress for establishing Rules and Articles of War, which reads as follows: "In time of war, all persons, not citizens of, or owing allegiance to, the United States, who shall be found lurking as spies in or about the fortifications or encampments of the armies of the United p590 States, or any of them, shall suffer death, according to the laws and usages of nations, by sentence of a general court-martial." On Sunday, the 5th, at noon, near the Exchange Coffee House which was then a place of much resort, Louaillier was arrested. He instantly desired Morel, a member of the bar and a man of great energy, who happened to be near him, to adopt legal means for his relief. Morel immediately applied for a write of Habeas Corpus to Martin, who had, at last, been recently appointed with the consent of the Senate, to occupy the seat so long vacant on the bench of the Supreme Court on account of the persevering rejection by the Senate of all the nominations made by the Governor. But Martin refused to interfere on the ground that, in a previous case, the Court had already decided that, having only appellate jurisdiction, it could not issue the writ of Habeas Corpus, especially as it was alleged that the prisoner was arrested and confined for trial before a court-martial, under the authority of the United States.3 Morel's next step was to apply to Hall, the District Judge of the United States, for a writ of prohibition, to stay proceedings against his client in the court-martial. As it was Sunday, the court was not in session; Judge Hall expressed a doubt of his authority to order such a writ in Chambers, and said he would take time to consider. Morel withdrew, but soon after returned with a petition for a writ of Habeas Corpus, which Hall ordered to be issued after exacting of Morel the promise that he would, before the serving of the writ, have the courtesy to give General Jackson information of his application for it, and of the order of the Court. Morel's communication produced one of those terrific explosions of anger to which, unfortunately, the General was but too much inclined. He immediately wrote to Colonel Arbuckle p591 that, having received proof that Dominic A. Hall had been aiding, abetting and exciting mutiny in his camp, he desired that a detachment should be sent forthwith to arrest and confine him, and that a speedy report be made of the execution of the order. "You will, "said the General, "be vigilant, as the agents of our enemy are more numerous than we expected. You will be guarded against escape." Hall was an Englishman by birth, and this circumstance perhaps contributed to inflame the wrath of General Jackson.
The judge was arrested in his own house, at nine o'clock in the evening, on Sunday, and taken to the Barracks where he was confined in the same room with Louaillier. As soon as this was ascertained, an officer was sent to demand from the clerk of the District Court of the United States the surrender of Louaillier's petition, on the back of which Hall had written the order for issuing the writ of Habeas Corpus.4 The clerk replied, that according to the rules of the court, he could not part with any original paper filed in his office, and that he was ignorant of any right in the Commander-in‑Chief to interfere with judicial records. After much solicitation, however, he was prevailed upon to accompany Jackson's emissary to headquarters, and carry with him the document for the inspection of the General. On his arrival, he was asked by Jackson whether it was his intention to issue the writ ordered by the imprisoned judge. The clerk firmly answered that, "It was his sworn duty to do so, and that he, most assuredly, would not fail to perform it." He was threatened with being treated like the judge, but he boldly persisted in his determination, and, on retiring, asked for the return of the petition which he had handed to Jackson for perusal. He met with a peremptory refusal; he was told that p592 the paper was retained to convict the judge of forgery, because he had altered the date from the 5th, which was originally that of his order, to that of the 6th. This had been done on his reflecting that the fifth was Sunday. At this juncture, an express arrived from Washington, bringing intelligence that the treaty of peace had been ratified, and that the exchange of the ratifications had taken place on the 17th of February, but, "by some unaccountable accident, a dispatch on another subject had been substituted for the one intended to give an official notice of the event," as stated by General Jackson in a communication which he had addressed, some time since, to General Lambert, as already recorded in this History.
The exciting news of the arrival of the courier and of the arrest of Louaillier and Judge Hall had attracted a great crowd to headquarters. It was drawing late in the night. At 12 o'clock, Duplessis, the Marshal of the District Court of the United States, who, during the invasion, had acted as a volunteer Aid to General Jackson, made his appearance in the saloon of his Chief. On seeing him approach, Jackson walked to him hastily, saying: "I have shopped the Judge." Duplessis looked very grave, and uttered no words of approbation; this struck the General. "Is it possible," he said, "that you would have served the writ?" "Certainly," replied Duplessis; "I am the ministerial officer of the Court, and, as such, bound to execute any writ which it may direct to me. I have ever done my duty, and will continue to do so;" and, casting a stern look at the General,5 whose frowning brows showed his displeasure, he added: "I will, without hesitation, serve the Court's writ on any man. Jackson pointed to a copy of the proclamation of martial p593 law which was lying on a table, and said with emphasis: "I also will do my duty."
Having taken these energetic measures to give assurance to the public that he would permit no interference with what he thought his legitimate authority, Jackson was becoming more self-possessed, and his judgment was recovering the mastery over the natural heat of his temper, when an orderly-sergeant sent by Colonel Arbuckle, who had Judge Hall in custody, arrived and informed the General that the Judge wished to be permitted to make an affidavit before a magistrate, in order to resort to legal measures for his release, and that Colonel Arbuckle desired to know if the prisoner's application was to be granted. Jackson immediately fired up again at this attempt to resist him; he refused to permit the access of a magistrate to Hall, and ordered the arrest of Hollander, one of the principal merchants of New Orleans, for some reason which has never transpired, but soon after released him. Dick, the District Attorney of the United States, came to the assistance of Hall, and applied to Lewis, one of the District Judges of the State for a writ of Habeas Corpus on behalf of the Judge. Lewis was then acting as a subaltern officer in the Orleans Rifle-company, whose conduct during the invasion had received the special commendation of General Jackson. Lewis did not hesitate, he laid down his soldier's rifle, resumed his functions as Judge, and issued the writ. Jackson instantly ordered the arrest of Dick and Lewis; but Colonel Arbuckle to whom the writ issued by Lewis had been directed, having refused to surrender his prisoner on the ground that he had been committed by the Commander-in‑Chief, under the authority of the United States, Jackson countermanded his orders as to Lewis who had not yet been arrested. p594 But Dick6 was confined at the Barracks with Hall and Louaillier.
On the 8th, perhaps as a set-off to the rigor of these proceedings, and as an act of conciliation, Jackson issued the following "general order," disbanding the militia of the State:
"Although the commanding General has not received official advice that the state of war has ceased by the ratification of the treaty of peace between the United States and Great Britain, he has persuasive evidence of the fact, and credits it, at the risk of being misguided by his wishes. Under this impression, he first act is to release from actual service the body of the militia of the State, who have taken the field in obedience to the orders for a levy en masse. In discharging them from the noble duty which they were called to perform, the General does justice to the alacrity with which they have in general obeyed the call, to the enthusiasm which animated them on the first invasion of the enemy, and the unanimity and patriotism which disappointed his insolent hopes. He thanks them, in the name of their common country, for the noble defence they have made, and he congratulates them in his own, on the consequences it has produced. Louisiana, though not called on for any exertion in assuming her independence, has shown, by her courage in its support, that she knows how to prize the inestimable blessing; her sons have not only insured safety, but have acquired even a great good — national reputation."
This was again another full tribute paid to the patriotism of the Louisianians and a complete vindication, if they had needed any, against all those rumors of disaffection and treason which had been circulated against them:
"Preserve this national reputation," continued Jackson, "as the best reward of your exertions, and hand it down untarnished, together with your example, to your posterity. Let no designing men induce you to destroy it, by exciting jealousies of your best p595 friends, or divisions among yourselves, by preaching party spirit in peace, insubordination in war, injustice to your brave companions in arms, blindness to your own interests and to the true character of those enemies of your peace. Guard against these evils as you hope to enjoy the blessings you have so bravely won; and before you yield to such perfidious counsels, examine scrupulously whether those from whom they proceed, deserve your confidence by any exertion they have made in your defence."
This was a plain allusion to those against whom he was contending. He then asseverated that a zealous wish for the prosperity of the interesting country in whose defence he had been instrumental by the blessing of Heaven, had induced him "to give this admonitory caution, which those who court popularity might represent to the people as being unnecessary." He, however, valued no popularity but that which arises from a faithful discharge of duty. He assured the Louisianians that, in performing that duty, his sole object had been to secure their happiness, and that he would always consider it as one of the most fortunate incidents of his life, to have contributed by his exertions to the prosperity of their country.
This was very soothing language, and, as he seemed now to be in a relenting mood, he suspended, until his pleasure should be further signified, the order of expulsion he had issued against the French, who, regardless of it, had all remained quietly at home. He stated that he granted that favor at the solicitation of the principal militia companies of the city, who had pledged themselves for the future good conduct of the French subjects. This was pouring some oil on the stormy waves which were every moment lashing themselves into greater fury. But it was too late, and it was not enough. The excitement was too intense, and nothing would have appeased it but the immediate release of the prisoners and the revocation of the proclamation of martial law, p596 and Jackson was not disposed to yield to that extent, if disposed to yield at all. Those who were most indignant against the General, and were the loudest in the expression of their feelings, were encouraged by the knowledge that Claiborne, who had been accused of timidity and of bending too much under the federal rod, was now disposed to show more energy, and to use what authority he had for the protection of the citizens. The Executive of the State had long been on bad terms with General Jackson, by whom he thought that he had been treated with studied neglect.
When the appointment of the volunteer Aids-de‑Camp to General Jackson, and that of the Judge Advocate, appeared in the "general order" of the 17th of December, 1814, Claiborne had observed to his Aid, Colonel Shaumburgh: "These men will do me much harm, if the General suffers himself to be imposed upon."7 It seems that Claiborne's apprehensions were soon verified. "From that moment," wrote Shaumburgh to Claiborne, "the intercourse between you and the General became less frequent, and I know also that the General often found fault with you; but whether it proceeded from the intrigues of those gentlemen, I am not able to determine; I am, however, aware that were every one your enemy." On the 23d of December, when the troops were marching from the city to meet the British on Villeré's plantation, Claiborne, at the head of three regiments of militia was moving rapidly in that direction, when he received the order from General Jackson to turn back and occupy the Gentilly road. This order dampened the enthusiasm of the men, as all of them were anxious to meet the enemy, and produced for a moment among them a feeling of discontent, which broke out into murmurs. On that occasion, Claiborne p597 turned to Shaumburgh and said: "Do you see that, sir? This is the beginning of a plan devised to keep me in the background." Shaumburgh disagreed with the Governor, and expressed the opinion that it was highly necessary that the Gentilly road should be strongly guarded, as the landing of the enemy below the city might be merely a false attack. Claiborne retained his first impression, however, and the coolness between him and Jackson sunk every day to a lower degree of refrigeration. On the 24th of February, he had ventured to send to Jackson the following communication:
"The undersigned, the Governor of the State of Louisiana, presents his respects to Major-General Jackson, and informs him how important it is that such part of the militia of this State whose service can safely be dispensed with, be early disbanded and permitted to return to their respective homes. Independent of the convenience to fathers of families, on whose personal labor, this present year, will depend the cultivation of their little farms, the undersigned brings to the view of the General the neglected state of the levees on the Mississippi; which, if not soon attended to, there will be no security, on the rise of the Mississippi, against the inundation of the lower part of the State. The undersigned persuades himself that the several detachments on duty in the interior of the State may now be relieved without endangering the public safety, it being understood that they be held in readiness to take the field, whenever danger menaces. The militia of the city, whose private affairs do not so immediately suffer, will enable the Government to dispense with the services of the whole until official notice of the ratification of the treaty of peace."
Claiborne does not appear to have had any reason to congratulate himself on the manner in which his suggestions were received, and, on the same day, addressed this communication to Mazureau, who had succeeded Martin as Attorney-General for the State:
"I find that the martial Law which was proclaimed in the City of New Orleans by the "General Orders" of the officer commanding p598 the forces of the United States, in the Seventh Military District of which this State makes a part, continues to be enforced to the injury of our fellow-citizens. If the liability of an American citizen, not in the military service of the United States, to have his conduct tested by the arbitrary principle of Martial Law can ever exist, it cannot certainly be expected to be endured at another moment than that of the actual invasion of that part of the country in which it is proclaimed. Yet, although the enemy does not at this time occupy an inch of ground within this State, the capital of Louisiana, the City of New Orleans and its environs, continue to be the theatre of military dominion. The plea of necessity under which alone this measure is said to be grounded ceasing to give it any justification, I can no longer remain a silent spectator of the prostration of the laws. I therefore request you, without loss of time, to repair to this city and resume your official duties, in order to give your aid to the civil magistrates, particularly the inferior ones; and, on receiving information of any attempt of the military to seize the person of any private citizen not actually in the military service of the United States, you are specially instructed to take for his protection, and for avenging the injured laws of this State, such measures as your knowledge of those laws will point out."
Claiborne also took the rather extraordinary step of sending to Governor Shelby of Tennessee and other persons in authority, a circular,8 in which he said:
"You will learn with regret that an unfortunate misunderstanding exists between Major-General Jackson and the Legislative and Executive authorities of Louisiana, against the latter of which I have every reason to believe his resentment is more immediately directed. With a favorite and victorious chief, whose gallantry and exploits have attracted so much admiration, I am well aware I can enter into no contest upon equal grounds. There, however, is a shield which a kind Providence furnishes the cause of justice and truth, which resists present attacks and grows stronger with time. On former trials I have experienced the strength of this shield, nor on the present can it fail to extend to me the most ample security. I acknowledge that General Jackson has rendered important service, nor do I deny him the possession of some great qualities; but the violence of his temper casts a shade upon them all, and in this p599 capital he has observed a course which cannot easily be excused, much less justified, by those who feel a proper regard for the rights of others."
All these proceedings seemed to indicate preparations to resist the federal authority exercised by Jackson. The public mind was, therefore, much agitated at the prospect of such a conflict. Claiborne9 had been heard to declare in words of mysterious import: "That serious difficulties would be shortly witnessed in New Orleans." Large meetings of citizens were held; some suggested that a formal request should be addressed to the Governor, to put himself at the head of the militia of the State, and that Duplessis, the Marshal to United States District Court, be invited to call out the posse comitatus of the district, to support the authority of the judiciary. Fortunately, the counsels of moderation prevailed, and no other act of violence was perpetrated than the destruction of a transparent portrait of General Jackson, which had been displayed in the main hall of the Exchange Coffee House. A number of officers immediately assembled, and compelled the proprietor of the Coffee House to exhibit a new transparent like the preceding one, and illuminate the hall in more than the usual manner.9 They took their stand near the obnoxious painting, with the obvious intention of resisting by force any attempt to pull it down. It is even said that troops were in readiness to march to the Coffee House on the first summons. New Orleans had become like a magazine of gunpowder; the least spark might have produced an explosion.
Livingston, the great jurist, who was one of the Aids, the confidential adviser, and the bosom friend of General Jackson, was suspected of not disapproving, if he had not sanctioned or suggested the proceedings to which p600 Jackson had resorted. He had become an object of execration to many; he truckles now, they said, to that very tyranny which he so courageously opposed in 1806, when he confronted General Wilkinson. Are we not now in the very same circumstances which he described "as so new in the history of our country, that they will not easily gain belief at a distance, and can scarcely be realized by those who beheld them? A dictatorial power assumed by the Commander of the American army — the military arrest of citizens charged with a civil offence — the violation of the sanctuary of justice! An attempt to overawe, by denunciations, those who dared professionally to assert the authority of the laws — the unblushing avowal of the employment of military force to punish a civil offence, and the hardy menace of persevering in the same course, were circumstances that must command attention, and excite corresponding sentiments of great indignation and contempt." Such was his language in former days. He then said:
"We must suffer the evils to which we are exposed. Let us, however, do it with fortitude, and never be tempted to any act which may enlist us on the side of those who trample on our Constitution, sport with our liberties, and violate our laws. Let us remember that the day of retribution will arrive, and is not far distant, when a strict account will be taken as well of the wanton abuses as of the shameful dereliction which permits them. But let us strive, by our zeal in the support of our country, by our submission to lawful authority, by our opposition to every foreign or domestic foe, to show that there is no pretext for the dictatorial power that is assumed over us."
What more appropriate in the present state of things than the emphatic expressions used by him in identical circumstances:
"I have said that we must suffer. Never were two words more applicable to our situation. It is one of the most dreadful to an independent mind, of any that can be imagined — subject to the p601 uncontrolled will of a single man, to whom the hearsay tales of slander are proofs; and who, on his own evidence, arraigns, condemns, and punishes the accused, and insults the tribunals of justice! What state of things can be worse? No caution can protect! No consciousness of innocence secure! The evidence is taken in private; malicious, cowardly informers skulk around the proconsul's office; their tales give food to pre-existing enmity, and they avenge their own quarrels by secret denunciations of guilt. The objects of official suspicion are confined!"
How comes the same man, it was asked, to act so differently from his antecedents? How comes he now to be found in the proconsul's office? Is it because General Wilkinson was then thwarting his views, and General Jackson is now favoring them? But if he does not continue true to the liberties of the people, said those who denounced him, we shall profit by his former advice, and "give no pretext" to General Jackson for indulging in his favorite acts of violence.
The multitude were therefore advised to be satisfied with giving vent to their indignation in words, but to abstain carefully from any outbreak or riot, and whilst waiting a few days longer for the official news of the restoration of peace, to repeat to General Jackson and his advisers what the eloquent Workman had said to Wilkinson in similar circumstances:
"The law is not dead, but sleepeth; the Constitution is eclipsed, indeed, but the dark bodies of hideous and ill-omened forms which have intercepted its light, and deprived us of its genial influence, will soon pass away, and we shall again behold the glorious luminary shining forth in all its original splendor."
Meanwhile the Court-martial had met, and, presided by General Gaines, was proceeding with the trial of Louaillier. There were seven charges against him:— 1. mutiny; 2. exciting mutiny; 3. general misconduct; 4. being a spy; 5. illegal and improper conduct and disobedience to orders; 6. writing a willful and corrupt libel; 7. unsoldierlike behavior and violations of p602 the proclamation of martial law. All these charges rested on one single fact — the publication of the 3d of March — and show what varieties of guilt could be extracted from it. The prisoner, when brought to the bar and arraigned, refused to answer, and the plea of not guilty was ordered to be entered. His counsel pleaded to the jurisdiction of the Court, on the ground that the accused was a member of the Legislature, and, as such, exempt from militia duty; that the rules and articles of war were expressly established for the government of the Army and Navy of the United States, and were not binding on any individual out of it; that his client was neither of the army or militia, although, during the invasion, he had performed military duty in one of the volunteer companies embodied for the maintenance of order in the city;10 that the proclamation of martial law made no one a soldier who was not so before; that the proclamation of martial law was a mere warning that it would be enforced as it previously existed, and not the creation or introduction of something new. What was martial law in the United States? It was no more than that code of regulations by which their martial affairs were to be governed. By what authority was that code to be established? By the Legislative power alone, and by that power accordingly it had been framed and made binding upon the land. Congress had prescribed rules and articles of war, and the President of the United States himself, as Commander-in‑Chief, could not add anything to their provisions nor modify them in the slightest degree. He could no more make martial law, than he could fiscal, commercial, or criminal law. It is the province of the Legislature to enact a law; it is the p603 exclusive right of the Executive to proclaim and to enforce it. In the establishment of the rules and articles of war as prescribed by Congress and in their legal application there was nothing, it was alleged, incompatible with the rights of the citizen, and the independence and ordinary authority of the Judiciary. On the other hand, it was maintained that, by universal usage, when martial law is proclaimed in a place, all the citizens are subjected like the soldiers to the severity of military regulations, and that Louaillier could not therefore claim any exemption from them; that he was in Jackson's camp, and as long as he remained there, and the proclamation of martial law was not revoked, all his acts were liable to be tried by a court-martial in conformity with the rules and articles of war existing in the United States. The Court sustained Louaillier's plea to its jurisdiction as to all the charges, except that of being a spy. The ground of this decision was, that Louaillier, not being in the service of the United States, could not be tried by a court-martial in relation to the other charges submitted to their consideration; but they declared themselves competent to take cognizance of the accusation brought against him of being a spy.
The decision of the Court was manifestly wrong as to the last part of it; they had no authority, under the 2d section of the rules and articles of war, to try Louaillier as a spy, because he was a citizen of the United States, to which he owed allegiance. In the case of Elijah Clark, condemned, in 1812, to be hung as a spy at Buffalo, in the State of New York, by sentence of a court-martial, the execution being suspended by General Hull until the pleasure of the President of the United States should be known, the Secretary of War wrote to the General, "that Clark, being considered a citizen of the United States, and not liable to be tried by court-martial as a spy, the President p604 directed that, unless he should be arraigned by the Civil Court for treason, or a minor crime, under the laws of the state of New York, he must be discharged." In case of Smith, a naturalized Scotchman, claiming damages for false imprisonment, the Supreme Court of the United States decided, that, "as he was an American citizen, he could not be chargeable with such an offence as that of being a spy; that he might be amenable to the civil authority for treason, but could not be prosecuted under martial law, as a spy." The Court, however, although maintaining that they had jurisdiction to try Louaillier as a spy, acquitted him of the offence, on the ground that there was no evidence before them of his being found "lurking about any fortification or encampment of the Army of the United States." Whatever may be said of the other charges brought against Louaillier, it must be admitted that the one which placed him before the Court-Martial as a spy was most extraordinary, for it was a matter of public notoriety that he was a member of the Legislature, in which he had acted a conspicuous part; therefore a citizen of the United States; and not only was he not found lurking about any fortification or encampment, but he had openly taken an attitude of defiance against the Commander-in‑Chief, whom he had attacked by a publication which was destined to meet that commander's eye immediately after its appearance. But, setting aside the rules and articles of war as established in the United States, what is a spy in the common acceptation of the word? "It is a person11 sent into an enemy's camp to inspect their works, ascertain their strength and their intentions, to watch their movements, and secretly communicate intelligence to the proper officer." Certainly, it is difficult to imagine how General Jackson, even when laboring under the greatest p605 excitement, could persuade himself that this definition of a spy could apply to Louaillier's character and position. On his being informed of the decision of the Court, which was given on the 9th, he had another of his explosions of wrath. He refused to release the prisoner, and, on the next day, issued the following General Order:
"The Commanding General disapproves of the sentence of the Court-Martial, of which Major-General Gaines is President, on the several charges and specifications exhibited against Mr. Louaillier; and is induced, by the novelty and importance of the matters submitted to the decision of that Court, to assign the reasons of this disapproval.
"The charges against the prisoner were mutiny, exciting mutiny, general misconduct, for being a spy, illegal and improper conduct, and disobedience of orders, writing a willful and corrupt libel against the Commanding General, unsoldierly conduct, and conduct in violation of a General Order; all which charges are, on the face of them, proper to be inquired into by a court-martial. The defendant pleaded to the jurisdiction of the Court, and founded his exceptions on matters of fact, which exceptions, as to all the charges and specifications but one, the Court sustained, without inquiring into the truths of the facts (which not otherwise could have appeared to them), upon which those exceptions were bottomed.
"The Commanding General is not disposed, however, to rest his objections upon any informality in the mode of proceeding adopted by the Court; but presuming that the Court really believed the truth of the facts set forth in the exceptions, deems it his duty to meet the doubts as he supposes them to have existed. The character of the prisoner (a citizen not enrolled in any corps, and a member of the State Legislature, though that Legislature was not in session), probably, in the opinion of the Court, placed himself without their reach upon the several charges on which they declined acting.
"The enemy having invaded the country, and threatening an attack on New Orleans, many considerations growing out of this contingency, and connected with the defence of the city, rendered the adoption of the most energetic and decisive measures necessary. Martial law, as the most comprehensive and effectual, was therefore proclaimed by the Commanding General — a state of p606 things which made it the duty of every inhabitant, indiscriminately, to contribute to the defence of his country — a duty, in the opinion of the Commanding General, more positive and more urgent than any resulting from the common and usual transactions of private, or even public life. The occasion that calls it forth involves, at once, the very existence of the Government, and the liberty, property, and lives of the citizens.
"Martial law, being established, applies, as the Commanding General believes, to all persons who remain within the sphere of its operation, and claims exclusive jurisdiction of all offences which aim at the disorganization of the army over which it extends. To a certain extent, it is believed to make every man a soldier to defend the spot where chance or choice has placed him; and to make him liable for any misconduct calculated to weaken its defence.
"If martial law, when necessity shall have justified a resort to it, does not operate to this extent, it is not easy to perceive the reason, or the utility of it. If a man who shall, from choice, remain within the limits of its operation, and whose house is without these limits, and who shall there labor by means in his power to stir up sedition and mutiny among the soldiery, inspire them with distrust toward the commanding officer, and communicate to the enemy intelligence of the disaffection and discontent which he himself has created, may safely avail himself of what he may please to call his constitutional rights, and continue his dangerous machinations with impunity, the Commanding General believes that it can easily be conceived how a man, thus influenced and thus acting, might render the enemy more important services, and do his country more injury than he possibly could by entering the ranks of the enemy, and aiding him in open battle. Why is martial law ever declared? Is it to make the enlisted or drafted soldier subject to it? He was subject to it before. It is, that the whole resources of a country, or of that district over which it is proclaimed, may be successfully applied for its preservation. Every man, therefore, within the limits to which it extends, is subject to its influence. If it has not this operation, it is surely a perfect nullity. Apply this view of the subject to the case before the Court, and how is it? After the adjournment of the Legislature, of which the defendant claims to be a member, he remained within the camp of the American army, and within the limits which are declared to be embraced by martial law. How does he then deport himself? Instead of contributing to the defence of his country, instead of seeking to promote that unanimity which a love of country, and the p607 important trust which had been reposed in him might have led us to expect, we behold him endeavoring to stir up discord, sedition, mutiny; laboring to disorganize and destroy an army which had so lately defended his country, and might so soon again be necessary for its defence — not only inviting the enemy to renew his attempt, but contributing his utmost to enable him to succeed, if he should obey the invitation. Is there no power to restrain the efforts, or to punish the wickedness of such a man? If he aids and comforts the enemy by communicating to him information of the mutinous and seditious spirit, of the distraction and confusion which he himself has created — why — this is treason, and he cannot be punished by a court-martial. If he excites mutiny, disobedience to orders, and rebellion among the soldiery, he is not attached too the army, and cannot be restrained. Why is he not attached to the army? Why, at such a moment, when he remains within it, is he not subject to its rules and regulations? If the enemy comes, may he fold his arms and walk unconcernedly along the lines, or remain inactive in his room? Can he not be called upon for his exertions? May he not only refuse to render any assistance himself, but, without fear or reproach, do all in his power to render ineffectual the exertions of others, of that army which, in the most threatening crisis, is fighting for the liberty and safety of that country whose liberty and safety he professes to have so much at heart? May he, at such a moment, proclaim to the enemy that we are dissatisfied with our General, tired of the war, determined no longer to bear the restrictions which it imposes, in a word, disaffected and disunited, and ready to yield to him on his first approach? May this man, a foreigner, retaining the predilections for the country which gave him birth, and boasting of those predilections, may such a man, under such circumstances, excite sedition and mutiny, division and disorganization in our army; and when he is called before the court-martial to answer for his crimes, say: Gentlemen, you have no right to take cognizance of the offences of which I am charged? Decide with the accused, no army can be safe, no general can command; disaffection and disobedience, anarchy and confusion must take place of order and subordination, defeat and shame, of victory and triumph. But the Commanding General is persuaded that this is a state of things which no Government can, or does, tolerate. The Constitution of the United States secures to the citizen the most valuable privileges; yet that Constitution contemplates the necessity of suspending the exercise of the same, in order to secure the continuance of all. If it authorizes the suspension p608 of the Writ of Habeas Corpus in certain cases, it thereby implicitly admits the operation of martial law, when, in the event of rebellion or invasion, public safety may require it. To whom does the declaration of this law belong? To the guardian of the public safety, to him who is to conduct the operations against the enemy, whose vigilance is to destroy danger, and whose arms are to repel it. He is the only authority present to witness and determine the emergency which makes such a resort necessary, and possessed of the means to make suitable provision for it. For the correctness of his conduct, under the circumstances which influenced him, he stands responsible to his government."
It seems, from the language and conduct of General Jackson, that his understanding of martial law was very different from the one entertained by the jurists; that he had concluded that the proclamation of martial law carried within itself, as a necessary consequence, the suspension of the Habeas Corpus, of all civil laws and constitutional privileges within the sphere of its action; that it vested absolute authority in the Commander-in‑Chief, and was a thing so plastic and comprehensive that it embraced and meant whatever the "sole guardian of the public safety" deemed expedient — an opinion which is generally favored by military men in such circumstances.
After the decision of the Court-Martial in the case of Louaillier, the General foresaw that he had nothing to hope from the trial of Hall for aiding, abetting and exciting mutiny in his camp. The sentence of the Court would, of course, have been a foregone conclusion. Therefore he gave up the idea of a criminal prosecution, and, putting the prisoner under a strong guard, ordered him, on the 11th of March, to be led several miles beyond the limits of the city, where he was left, with a prohibition to return "before the ratification of treaty of peace should have been regularly announced, or the British should have departed from the Southern coast." p609 On the 18th, early in the morning, the inhabitants of New Orleans were awakened by the firing of cannon, repeated at measured intervals. They rushed into the streets for inquiry, and in gladsome expectation of hearing the official news of the ratification of the treaty of peace. They were not disappointed; a courier had arrived, at the dawn of light, with the important document which had been so long desired, and with instructions from the President, directing General Jackson to issue a proclamation for the pardon of all military offences. There could be no longer any excuse for retaining Louaillier in custody; the doors of his prison were thrown open; the proclamation of martial law was revoked; the French Consul came back to resume his functions, and Judge Hall returned to town amidst the acclamations of the citizens. He was greatly and universally esteemed, and was described12 "as a magistrate of pure heart, clean hands, and a mind susceptible of no fear but that of God."
General Jackson communicated "with satisfaction" to the troops under his command the testimonials which had been sent him of the "just sense which the President of the United States entertained of their patriotism, valor and good conduct," and congratulated them particularly on "their being able to receive this applause with the consciousness of having deserved it." In the communication which James Monroe, Secretary of State, had addressed on the subject to Jackson in the name of the President, were the following lines, which were received with pleasure, as making amends for suspicions which ought never to have been entertained: "To our newly adopted fellow-citizens of Louisiana you will give assurance of his great sensibility to the decided and honorable proof which they have given of their attachment p610 and devotion to the Union, and of their manly support of the rights of their country."
On the 14th, General Jackson began to take the necessary measures to disband the troops, and to restore to their usual peaceful avocations, and to their respective States, Tennessee, Kentucky, Louisiana, and to the Territory of Mississippi, the brave men who had acted such a distinguished part in the war which had just terminated. Those who could not be removed without imminent danger of their lives were to be well accommodated, and supplied with hospital stores, and a sufficient number of surgeons were retained to attend them. Contractors were to furnish provisions to the troops on their return march, on the requisition of their respective commanding officers, who were instructed to use every care and attention to prevent depredations on private property, and who were admonished that they would be held personally responsible to indemnify the sufferers, agreeably to the regulations of the War Department, for all damages done or property injured or destroyed by their commands. His farewell address to his late companions-in‑arms was dignified in tone, tender and affectionate in sentiment:
"In parting," he said, "with those brave men whose destinies had been long united with his own, and in whose labors and glories it was his happiness and his boast to have participated, he could neither suppress his feelings, nor give utterance to them as he ought. In what terms could he bestow suitable praise on merit so extraordinary, so unparalleled? Let him in one burst of joy, gratitude and exultation, exclaim: These are the saviors of their country — these the patriot soldiers who triumphed over the invincibles of Wellington, and conquered the conquerors of Europe." With what patience did you submit to privations! With what fortitude did you endure fatigue! What valor did you display in the day of battle! You have secured to America a proud name among the nations of the earth, a glory which will never perish!
"Possessing those dispositions which equally adorn the citizen p611 and the soldier, the expectations of your country will be met in peace as her wishes have been gratified in war. Go, then, my brave companions, to your homes, to those tender connections and those blissful scenes which render life so dear — full of honor, and crowned with laurels which will never fade. With what happiness will you not, when participating, in the bosoms of your families, in the enjoyment of peaceful life, look back to the toils you have borne, to the dangers you have encountered! How will all your past exposures be converted into sources of inexpressible delight! Who, that never experienced your sufferings, will be able to appreciate your joys? The man who slumbered ingloriously at home during your painful marches, your nights of watchfulness and your days of toil, will envy you the happiness which these recollections will afford — still more will he envy the gratitude of that country which you have so eminently contributed to save. Continue, fellow-soldiers, on your passage to your several destinations, to preserve that subordination, that dignified and manly deportment which have so ennobled your character.
[. . .]
"What happiness it is to the commanding General, that while danger was before us, he was, on no occasion, compelled to use toward his companions-in‑arms either severity or rebuke? If, after the enemy had retired, improper passions began to show their empire in a few unworthy bosoms, and rendered a resort to energetic measures necessary for their suppression, the commanding General has not confounded the innocent with the guilty, the seduced with the seducers. Toward you fellow-soldiers, the most cheering recollections exist, blended, alas, with regret, that disease and war should have ravished from us so many worthy companions. But the memory of the cause in which they perished, and of the virtues which animated them while living, must occupy the place where sorrow would claim to dwell.
"Farewell, fellow-soldiers. The expression of your General's thanks is feeble; but the gratitude of a country of freemen is yours; yours the applause of an admiring world!"
Two days after, on the 16th, the "City Battalion of Uniform Companies" presented to General Jackson an address glowing with a warmth of feeling which seemed to attest its sincerity. This address was signed by seventeen officers, all of whom, with the exception of two, p612 were French, or of French origin,13 which shows that the whole of that population was not alienated from General Jackson by the course which he had lately pursued against those with whom they were connected by language and the pride, communion, and endearments of race:
"We have delayed," they said, "until this moment, the expression of our feelings toward you, lest the honest emotions of our hearts should be ascribed to a desire of propitiating the favor of our Commander. At this moment, when neither hope nor fear can be supposed to have influenced us, we pray you to receive the sincere tribute of our thanks: as soldiers, for the confidence you have reposed in us, for the paternal care with which you have watched over our comforts, and above all for that justice you have done to our zeal in assigning us on every occasion a possible of danger and of honor — as citizens, for the seldom of the measures you devised to protect our country, for the skill and bravery with which they were executed, and that indispensable energy to which we owe our safety. Leaving to others the task of declaiming about privileges and constitutional rights, we are content with having fought in support of them; we have understanding enough to know when they are wantonly violated; and no false reasoning shall make us ungrateful to the man whose wisdom and valor have secured them to us and to our posterity. We do not deal in professions; we pray you, General, to be assured, that in the officers and men of this battalion you have soldiers, who have been and are always ready to confront every danger under your command — fellow-citizens, grateful for your services — friends, personally attached to your fortunes, and ready to promote your happiness at the risk of their own. You have allowed us the endearing title of your brothers-in‑arms; it was given to us on the field, then strewed with the bodies of our enemies; and we feel a noble pride in the consciousness which allows us to accept it. That fraternity, cemented in hostile blood, shall be the pride of our lives; and in after times will secure to our children the respect of posterity. General, common phrases cannot express the emotions which agitate us at the moment of our separation; but we pray Heaven to watch over your safety; and we trust to a p613 grateful country for the honors and advancement which your services have merited."
We shall give in full the reply of General Jackson, because it is evidently written with great care and intended as a vindication of those energetic measures which he had lately adopted, and which had produces such a commotion in the city of New Orleans:
"Although born and bred in a land of freedom, popular favor has always been with me a secondary object. My first wish, in political life, has been to be useful to my country. Yet I am not insensible to the good opinion of my fellow-citizens. I would do much to obtain it; but I cannot, for this purpose, sacrifice my own conscience, or what I conceive to be the interests of my country.
"These principles have prepared me to receive, with just satisfaction, the address you have presented. The first wish of my heart, the safety of our country, has been accomplished; and it affords me the greatest happiness to know that the means taken to secure this object have met the approbation of those who have had the best opportunities of judging of their propriety, and who, from their various relations, might be supposed the most ready to censure any which had been improperly resorted to. The distinction you draw, gentlemen, between those who only declaim about civil rights and those who fight to maintain them, shows how just and practical a knowledge you have of the true principles of liberty. Without such knowledge all theory is useless or mischievous.
"Whenever the invaluable rights which we enjoy under our happy Constitution are threatened by invasion, privileges the most dear, and which in ordinary time ought to be regarded as the most sacred, may be required to be infringed for their security. At such a crisis, we have only to determine whether we will suspend, for a time, the exercise of the latter, that we may secure the permanent enjoyment of the former. Is it wise, in such a moment, to sacrifice the spirit of the laws to the letter, and, by adhering out of closely to the letter, lose the substance forever, in order that we may, for an instant, preserve the shadow? It is not to be imagined that the express provisions of any written law can fully embrace emergencies which suppose and occasion the suspension of all law, but the highest and the last, that of self-preservation. No right is more precious to a freeman than that of suffrage; but had your p614 election taken place on the 8th of January, would your declaimers have advised you to abandon the defence of your country, in order to exercise this inestimable privilege at the polls? Is it to be supposed that your General, if he regarded the important trust committed to his charge, would have permitted you to preserve the Constitution by an act which would have involved Constitution, country and honor in one undistinguished ruin?
"What is more justly important than personal liberty? Yet, how can the civil enjoyment of this privilege be made to consist with the order, subordination and discipline of a camp? Let the sentinel be removed by subpoena from his post, let writs of habeas corpus carry away the officers from the lines, and the enemy may conquer your country by only employing lawyers to defend your Constitution.
"Private property is held sacred in all good Governments, and particularly in your own. Yet, shall the fear of invading it prevent a General from marching his army over a corn-field, or burning a house which protects the enemy?
"These and a thousand other instances might be cited to show that laws must sometimes be silent when necessity speaks. The only question with the friend of his country will be, have these laws been made silent wantonly and unnecessarily? If necessity dictated the measure, if a resort to it was important for the preservation of those rights which we esteem so dear, and in defence of which we had so willingly taken up arms, surely it would not have been becoming in the Commander-in‑Chief to have shrunk from the responsibility which it involved. He did not shrink from it. In declaring martial law, his object, and his only object, was to embody the whole resources of the country for its defence. That law, while it existed, necessarily suspended all rights and privileges inconsistent with its provisions. It is matter of surprise that they who boast themselves the champions of those rights and privileges, should not, when they were first put in danger by the proclamation of martial law, have manifested that lively sensibility of which they have since made so ostentatious a display. So far, however, was this from being the case, that this measure not only met, then, the open support of those who, when their country was invaded, thought resistance a virtue, and the silent approbation of all, but even received the particular recommendation and encouragement of many who now inveigh the most bitterly against it. It was not until a victory, secured by that very measure, had lessened the danger which occasioned a resort to it, that the present feeling p615 guardians of our rights discovered, that the Commanding General ought to have suffered his posts to be abandoned through the interference of a foreign agent, his ranks to be thinned by desertion, and his whole army to be broken to pieces by mutiny, while yet a powerful force of the enemy remained on your coast, and within a few hours' sail of your city.
"I thought and acted differently. It was not until I discovered that the civil power stood no longer in need of the military for its support, that I restored it to its usual functions; and the restoration was not delayed a moment after that period had arrived.
"Under these circumstances, fellow-soldiers, your resolution to let others declaim about privileges and constitutional rights will never draw upon you the charge of being indifferent to those inestimable blessings. Your attachment to them has been proved by a stronger title — that of having fought nobly to preserve them. You, who have thus supported them against the open pretensions of a powerful enemy, will never, I trust, surrender them to the underhand machinations of men who stood aloof in the hour of peril, and who, when the danger is gone, claim to be the defenders of your Constitution.
"An honorable peace has dissolved our military connection; and, in a few days, I shall quit a country endeared to me by the most pleasing recollections. Among the most prominent of these, gentlemen, are those I shall ever entertain of the distinguished bravery, the exact discipline, the ardent zeal, and the important services of your corps. The offered friendship of each individual composing it I receive with pleasure, and with sincerity reciprocate. I shall always pride myself on a fraternity with such men, created in such a cause."
It appears by this document that General Jackson unequivocally admitted that he had violated the Constitution and the laws, but alleged in his justification that it had been done as a matter of necessity for the protection and safety of the country. There were many who were convinced that this necessity had never existed, that a dangerous precedent had been established, and who were determined that the prestige of history should not shield against punishment the man who, in their opinion, had wantonly trampled on the dearest rights p616 and privileges of his fellow-citizens. With these views, Dick, the District Attorney for the United States, immediately after the return of Hall, lost no time in calling the attention of the Court to those proceedings which had culminated in closing by violence one of the tribunals of United States. The Judge, however, refused to entertain any such proposition for the present, stating that the laws would assert their majesty and supremacy in due time, but that, to celebrate the restoration of peace, a few days of public rejoicings should be allowed to pass by without any interruption of an unpleasant nature. But, on the 21st of March, Dick was permitted to proceed against General Jackson. He represented to the Court that, more than six weeks after the enemy had evacuated Louisiana, there had been a publication animadverting on the official conduct of the Commander-in‑Chief; that the author of it had been arrested as a spy and for other crimes, and a court-martial assembled to pass sentence on him; that the prisoner, thinking that his arrest was illegal, that the Court had no jurisdiction over him, being deprived of liberty and threatened with death in case of conviction, had applied to that tribunal which, under the Federal Constitution, had specially been established to prevent such abuses, and give him the protection to which he was entitled; that the Judge presiding in that tribunal, on taking the proper steps, according to the petition of the plaintiff, to investigate the matter, was himself arrested by order of the defendant, and thereby the course of justice obstructed; that the clerk of the Court had been compelled to carry a record of the Court to headquarters, where it was taken and withheld from him; that the said clerk and the marshal of the Court had been threatened also with arrest if they performed their duty; that these transactions had taken place when there was not the least prospect of the renewal p617 of hostilities, or the least appearance of danger from any quarter, but, on the contrary, after "persuasive" information had been received from various sources as to the existence of a lately signed treaty of peace between Great Britain and the United States; whereupon, the District Attorney, having laid before the Court the necessary affidavits, moved for a rule to show cause why process of attachment should not issue against General Jackson for contempt of Court. The motion was granted, and on its return day, Reid, one of the General's Aids, accompanied him to the court-house, and presented a paper sworn to by the General, as his answer to the rule. It was a solemn protest against the unconstitutionality and illegality of the proceedings; a denial of the authority of the District Attorney to institute it, as well as that of the Court to punish him for the alleged contempt. General Jackson further maintained that, if he was accused of any statutory offence, the prosecution should be carried on by presentment or indictment; and that in such a case he could not be deprived of a trial by jury. As to the charge of contempt, he counsel urged that it had not been committed in Court; and several other technical objections were also presented.
In the concluding part of this document, the proclamation of martial law, says Martin in his History, was justified on the report which the General had received of the disaffection and seditious disposition of the French portion of the population of Louisiana; and various extracts were given from letters of the Governor on the difficulties he had to encounter, the opposition he met with from the Legislature, and the little dependence there was for success, except on a regular force to be sent by the United States. The interference with the records in the clerk's office was justified on the belief the defendant entertained, that it was within his authority. p618 The proclamation of martial law was held to have made the publisher of the libel a soldier, and his offence cognizable by a court-martial, and the imprisonment of the Judge was said to have been a matter of necessity.
"The Attorney of the United States opposed the reading of this paper. He said that, in no case, the defendant was permitted to make evidence for himself, and justify himself by swearing he was innocent, although, on a process of attachment, the defendant's answers to interrogatories put by the officer who conducted the prosecution were conclusive evidence.
"In the present stage of the cause, the inquiry was confined to the sufficiency of the facts sworn to — whether they did constitute an offence — and one which did support a prosecution by process of attachment. When the hearings would be on the merits, the defendant might avail himself of his answers to interrogatories, to show that the facts in the affidavits on which the rule was obtained were not true. The Judge took time to deliberate."
On the next day he said:
"The Court has taken time to consider the propriety of admitting the answer offered yesterday. It was proper to do so, because it is the first proceeding of any importance instituted in a matter like the present, since the establishment of the Court, and because by the constitution of the Court it is composed of one Judge only; and it so happens that one of the charges of contempt is his imprisonment, and the consequent obstruction of the course of justice. This is no reason why the proceedings should not have been instituted, and be persevered in; but it is a good one for deliberation. No personal consideration ought, for a moment, to allow the abandonment of the defence of the laws, the support of the dignity of the tribunal, and of the rights of the citizens.
p619 "I have considered the case, and I think I see a clear course.
"On a rule to show cause, the party called on may take all legal grounds to show that the attachment ought not to issue. He may take exceptions to the mode of proceedings, and prove, from the affidavits on which the rule was obtained, that the facts do not amount to a contempt.
"If the Court be convinced that the attachment may legally issue, it goes to bring the party into court; the interrogatories are propounded; he may object to any of them as improper, or deny the facts charged, and purge himself of the contempt on oath. His single testimony counteracts all other that may have been adduced.
"I will hear any of the exceptions taken in the answer, or any question of law that may be urged."
Arguments of counsel were therefore patiently listened to on all the "exceptions taken, and on all the questions of law" which incidentally arose; after which the rule was made absolute, and the case ordered to be tried on its merits on a particular day. On that day the excitement was intense in the city; the timid expected bloodshed, and, being haunted by imaginary terrors, confined themselves to their homes; the greater part of the population, however, was not of this disposition, and an immense crowd assembled at an early hour round the court-house. Many were moved by curiosity; others by feelings of sympathy for the General, or resentment and indignation against the Judge. Among the most ardent against the latter were remarked the Baratarians, who were said to nourish toward him the bitterest hostility, on account of his having been very strict on several occasions, when prosecutions had been instituted against some of their leaders. They were represented as panting for an opportunity to p620 wreak their vengeance on the magistrate whose inflexible rigor they had experienced to their cost. Distinct threats would occasionally burst from the impatient crowd; and one voice was heard to exclaim, "Let the General say but one word, and we will pitch into the river the Judge, the lawyers, and the court-house itself." This sentiment was greeted with fierce shouts of applause. At last, the long-expected hour had arrived. The General, followed by a numerous escort of officers, entered the hall of judgment, which was crowded to suffocation. The dense multitude had opened before him as he advanced and then closed again in deep silence; but when he reached the bar where he was to stand as a culprit, and confronted the Judge on his seat, one wild yell of defiance, which was echoed by the multitude outside, swept over the building and seemed to shake the roof and walls against which it reverberated. Jackson looked round with an expression of calm and august majesty, which was long remembered by those who saw his commanding features on that occasion; he only waved his hand in rebuke, and instantly order and silence were re-established. Then turning to the Judge, he slightly bowed his head, as if he meant to say: I am here in obedience to your command. The Judge looked as serene and impassible as if nothing unusual had happened. There was a grandeur in the scene which struck all the bystanders. Presently the clear voice of the Judge was heard: "Mr. Clerk, proceed with the business of the Court." The Clerk called the case: "The United States vs. Andrew Jackson." The General rose, and, with much dignity, signified to the Court his intention to decline answering interrogatories — a determination to which he said he had come, on account of the Court having refused his answer to the rule to be read. The Court replied, that it was for him to decide on the proper course p621 to be pursued in his own defence, and that every indulgence had been extended to him which the law authorized.
The District Attorney of the United States now rose to address the Court;14 we give a synopsis of his remarks:
"My task," he said, "is much simplified by the course which the defendant has taken. The defendant is charged with having obstructed the course of justice, and prevented, by violence, the interference of the District Court of the United States, in order that an illegal prosecution for a capital offence should be carried on before a military tribunal, against a citizen absolutely disconnected with the army or militia. The greatest part of the paper which he produced on his first coming into Court is filled with extracts of letters and with arguments, to justify his issuing a proclamation of martial law. He might have spared himself so much unnecessary labor; no one ever pretended that there was any degree of guilt in his proclamation of martial law. In the beginning of an invasion, it was very proper for the commander of the army raised to oppose it, to warn, by a solemn appeal, his men and his fellow-citizens around him, that circumstances required the exertion of the faculties of all to repel the enemy, and that the martial law of the United States, which means the system of rules established by the acts of Congress, and the laws and usages of civilized nations with regard to martial matters, would be strictly enforced. The question is not whether the General was wrong in proclaiming martial law, but whether, in his acts, he did not go beyond martial law, and beyond what circumstances required, in the exercise of the authority which he had assumed. The defendant seems to have been under the impression that martial law vested in him absolute powers. Where does he find a precedent for it in the annals of jurisprudence? Is it in England? We have the authority of Sir Matthew Hale to say: 'That martial law is no law there, but something indulged as a law'; and Lord Loughborough maintains that martial law, even as described by Sir Matthew Hale, 'does not exist at all.' There is a contradiction in the very terms. If law regulates the actions of delegated power, how can uncontrolled, unbounded power be consistent with the existence of law? What is commonly understood as law cannot have life where despotism p622 rules supreme. Despotism is not martial law, nor any other law; it is the absence of all laws. Judge Bay, of the Supreme Court of South Carolina, in the case of Lamb, says correctly: 'If by martial law is to be understood that dreadful system, the law of arms, which in former times was exercised by the King of England and his lieutenants, when his word was the law, and his will the power by which it was exercised, I have no hesitation in saying, that such a monster could not exist in this land of liberty and legality. The political atmosphere of America would destroy it in embryo. It was against such a tyrannical monster that we triumphed in our Revolutionary conflict; our fathers sealed the conquest with their blood, and their posterity will never permit it to tarnish our soil by its unhallowed feet, or harrow up the feelings of our gallant sons by its ghastly appearance. All our civil institutions forbid it; and the manly hearts of our countrymen are steeled against it. But if by this military code are meant to be understood the rules and regulations for the government of our men in arms, when marshaled in defence of our country's rights and honor, then I am bound to say there is nothing unconstitutional in such a system.' Therefore, we candidly admit that, although the acts of the defendant cannot, by any means, be justified by his proclamation of martial law, they can certainly be so on the plea of necessity — that necessity which justifies any act it commands for good purposes; and we grant that the defendant is entitled to any benefit he can derive from this plea, if it can be proved to have any foundation to rest upon; and we say, on the part of the United States, that success in this prosecution is neither expected nor desired, if that necessity can be shown, which the General invokes in his behalf.
"The defendant, in several documents, and particularly in his printed reply to the 'address of the uniform companies of the City of New Orleans,' admits without reserve or equivocation that he has violated the Constitution and laws of his country, but rests his defence on the law of necessity. We agree with him on this point; we allow that this is the proper ground for him to take; and we shall now proceed to demonstrate that there never was any necessity for his arbitrary acts.
"On the 29th of January there was not a British soldier left in arms on the soil of Louisiana, nor within a shorter distance than six hours' sail from its shores. True, the enemy was still in its neighborhood, and still powerful, but his force consisted of a defeated, demoralized army, much reduced from its original numbers, while our powers of resistance had been greatly increased by reinforcements, p623 by better preparations, and by the confidence resulting from the successes already obtained. On the 13th of February, Admiral Cochrane sends to General Jackson a copy of a bulletin received from Jamaica, proclaiming that a Treaty of Peace was signed, on the 24th of December, between Great Britain and the United States, and 'begs leave to offer his sincere congratulations.' On the 19th, General Lambert, the Commander-in‑Chief of the British forces, confirms the information, compliments the defendant on the prospect of peace, and 'hopes soon to communicate the notice of the ratification being exchanged.' On the 21st, General Jackson so far believes in the near prospect, if not the actual existence of peace, as to write to Admiral Cochrane about the restoration of private property taken from our citizens, and the propriety of the cessation of hostilities. At this juncture, Louaillier, a member of the Legislature of the State, one of our most respectable citizens, and in connected with the army and militia of the United States, published in one of the journals of the city a communication censuring some of the official acts of the defendant. He is arrested on the 5th of March as a spy, and brought before a court-martial to be sentenced to death in case of conviction. This was clearly an act of illegality. Was the danger of his remaining at liberty so great as to justify this illegality? On the very same day, the magistrate whose protection is sought by Louaillier is also arrested by the defendant. What pressing danger required such a step? Would the safety of the country have been put in peril if the District Court of the United States have been permitted to decide on the legality of the arrest of Louaillier? A few hours after this extraordinary proceeding and this monstrous exercise of brute force, on the 6th of March, the defendant informs General Lambert that he, General Jackson, had received intelligence from Washington that the treaty had been ratified by the President and Senate of the United States, but that, by some unaccountable accident, a dispatch on another subject had been substituted for the one intending to give him official notice of this event. He has, however, before him the courier's declarations; he has the order of the Postmaster-General directing his deputies to forward the express carrying intelligence of the recent peace. 'From other sources, to which he gives credit,' he has also learned that the same express has brought official notice of the treaty to the Governor of Tennessee. Therefore, he tells Lambert that 'very little doubt is left in his mind' about the restoration of peace. He proposes a cessation of hostilities in anticipation of the expected communication in an p624 official form; he assures the British General of the satisfaction he feels in reflecting, 'that their correspondence, begun as commanders of hostile armies, terminates as officers of nations in amity.' Where was the necessity, under such circumstances, to keep in prison a member of the Legislature of the State of Louisiana and a Judge of the United States, in open and admitted violation of the Constitution and laws of the land? Nay — 'so little doubt' had the defendant in his mind of the restoration of peace, so 'persuasive' of the fact, to use his own expression, was the evidence he had received, that, on the 8th, he disbanded and dismissed to their homes the whole militia of the State, and consented that the French subjects residing in New Orleans should be free from military duty and exempted from the decree of expulsion he had issued against them. If, on that occasion, he did not believe in the suspension of the state of war, he acted in a manner which would have subjected him, as a military man, to disgrace and severe penalties before a court-martial. If, on the contrary, he was satisfied, as everybody was, that a treaty of peace had been signed and ratified, where was the necessity of still retaining Louaillier and Judge Hall in durance? The defendant is placed in a dilemma of his own making, and whichever alternative he takes, it works to his injury. It seems to us we may be permitted to say in conclusion, that credulity itself could not admit the proposition that persuasive evidence of the cessation no war, and belief in the necessity of such a violent measure as the prevention of the exercise of judicial power by a legitimate tribunal, could exist at the same time in the defendant's mind. We are compelled, therefore, to attribute the arbitrary proceedings of the defendant, not to his conviction of their necessity, but to the indulged infirmity of an obstinate and morbidly irascible temperament, and to the unyielding pride of a man naturally impatient of the least show of opposition to his will."
We regret to record, that General Jackson so far forgot what was due to his personal dignity and to his national reputation, as to allow himself to be persuaded to resort to a petty quibble, in order to avert the judgment of the Court. He was made to asseverate that his intention had been to imprison Dominick A. Hall, and not the Judge. Dick coolly referred him to the affidavit of his own Aid, Duplessis, the Marshal of the Court, p625 who swore to his having used these words: "I have shopped the Judge."
The case was closed, and sentence remained to be passed. The Court said that it was becoming to manifest moderation in the punishment of the defendant for the want of it; and that, in consideration of the services the General had rendered to his country, imprisonment should make no part of the sentence, which was limited to a fine of one thousand dollars and costs. It was instantly discharged, and the General, on his coming out of the court-house, entered his carriage; the horses were removed, and the people enthusiastically dragged it to the Exchange Coffee House, where he addressed a large crowd in a manner worthy of himself. "I have," he said, "during the invasion, exerted every one of my faculties for the defence and preservation of the Constitution and the laws. On this day, I have been called on to submit to their operation under circumstances which many persons might have thought sufficient to justify resistance. Considering obedience to the laws, even when we think them unjustly applied, as the first duty of the citizen, I did not hesitate to comply with the sentence you have heard pronounced, and I entreat you to remember the example I have given you of respectful submission to the administration of justice." The citizens insisted on refunding to him the amount of the fine he had paid, on the ground that they considered it their own debt; but he peremptorily refused.
A reaction had taken place in favor of General Jackson, even among his most violent opponents, on account of the propriety and nobility of his late deportment. It would have been well for him to have permitted things to remain as they stood; but, either guided by some malignant adviser, or goaded by the rashness of his own temper, he published, a few days after, in one of the p626 journals of New Orleans, the answer he had offered to the District Court, preceded by an exordium,15 in which he complained that the Court had refused to hear it. He added, that the Judge "had indulged himself, on his route to Bayou Sara when driven out of the city, in manifesting apprehensions as to the fate of the country, equally disgraceful to himself, and injurious to the interest and safety of the State," and concluded: "Should Judge Hall deny this statement, the General is prepared to prove it fully and satisfactorily."
This provocation and this reopening of the conflict did not remain long unnoticed, and the following piece appeared in answer:
"It is stated in the introductory remarks of General Jackson, that, on the Judge's route to Bayou Sara, he manifested apprehensions as to the safety of the country, disgraceful to himself and injurious to the State. Judge Hall knows full well how easy it is for one with the influence and patronage of General Jackson to procure certificates and affidavits. He knows that men, usurping authority, have their delators and spies; and that, in the sunshine of imperial or dictatorial power, swarms of miserable creatures are easily generated from the surrounding corruption, and rapidly changed into the shape of buzzing informers. Notwithstanding which, Judge Hall declares, that on his route to Bayou Sara, he uttered no sentiment disgraceful to himself, or injurious to the State. He calls upon General Jackson to furnish that full and satisfactory evidence of his assertion which he says he is enabled to do."
The General probably discovered, but too late for his honor, that he had imprudently taken a position which he could not sustain; for he remained silent, and thus left all the advantage with his adversary. It must have been to him a source of deep humiliation to retire from the conflict which he had invited, without redeeming the word which he had pledged with such solemnity. It p627 gratified the malice of his enemies, and it mortified his friends. He soon after departed from the theatre of his glory. We now dismiss him from the pages of this History, after having represented his acts and character with those lights and shades which appertain to them, and observed that strict impartiality of truth which we have considered as our sacred duty. He lived to be twice elected President of the United States, and to exercise over the destinies of his country an influence which was still felt long after he had descended into the grave. He would have saved himself from many difficulties and painful struggles, if the iron bar, to which his indomitable will was compared, had been lined with silk or velvet, and if he had not neglected those arts of conciliation which are not incompatible with the utmost firmness of purpose and rectitude of conscience. But he always preferred to break through, than to go round, any obstacle. Such as he was, however, he commanded more than any other man ever did the instinctive sympathies of that vigilant, restless, thoroughly democratic commonwealth among which his lot had been cast, and whatever his faults were, his country remembers only his virtues, his patriotism and his glory.
The following Resolutions, complimentary to the people of Louisiana, and of New Orleans in particular, were unanimously adopted by Congress:
"Resolved, That Congress entertain a high sense of the patriotism, fidelity, zeal, and courage with which the people of the State of Louisiana promptly and unanimously stepped forth, under circumstances of imminent danger from a powerful invading army, in defence of all the individual, social, and political rights held dear to man. Congress declare and proclaim that the brave Louisianians deserve well of the whole people of the United States.
"Resolved, That Congress entertain a high sense of the generosity, benevolence, and humanity displayed by the people of New p628 Orleans, in voluntarily offering the best accommodations in their power, and giving the kindest attention to the wounded, not only of our own army, but also to the wounded prisoners of the vanquished foe."
The President of the United States issued a proclamation declaring "a free and full pardon" of all offences committed in violation of any act or acts of Congress touching the revenue, trade and navigation of the United States, or touching the intercourse and commerce of the United States with foreign nations, at any time before the 8th of January, in the year eighteen hundred and fifteen, by any person or persons whatsoever, being inhabitants of New Orleans and the adjacent country, or being inhabitants of the Island of Barataria and the places adjacent, in the State of Louisiana.
"It had been long ascertained," said the President, "that many foreigners, flying from the dangers of their own home, and that some citizens, forgetful of their duty, had co-operated in forming an establishment on the Island of Barataria, near the mouth of the river Mississippi, for the purpose of a clandestine and lawless trade. The Government of the United States caused the establishment to be broken up and destroyed; and, having obtained the means of designating the offenders of every description, it only remained to answer the demands of justice by inflicting an exemplary punishment.
"But it has since been represented that the offenders have manifested a sincere repentance, that they have abandoned the prosecution of the worst cause for the support of the best, and, particularly, that they have exhibited in the defence of New Orleans unequivocal traits of courage and fidelity. Offenders, who have refused to become the associates of the enemy in war, upon the most seducing terms of invitation, and who have aided to repel his hostile invasion of the territory of the United States, can no longer be considered as objects of punishment, but as objects of a generous forgiveness."
Before the end of the Spring, Louisiana, which had been so recently in a condition of tumultuous agitation, p629 had returned to the unruffled calmness of a state of profound peace. There were hardly any traces left of the late invasion, save angry discussions which would occasionally arise in relation to those misunderstandings which had existed between General Jackson, the Legislature, the Governor, Judge Hall and other prominent individuals. It was the remaining, but subsiding turbulence of the waters, after the storm had swept away. Claiborne had been severely blamed by some for having put the whole militia of the State under the command of a Federal officer, and for having thereby made of her Executive a nullity for the protection of her citizens. At the next session of the Legislature, he noticed this charge in these terms, in his annual message:
"It is known to you, gentlemen, that, on the requisition of Major-General Jackson, acting under the authority of the President, I did, in the late great emergency, order into the service of the Union the militia of this State, and that, during the continuance of such service, the whole remained out of my control. I am aware that my conduct in this respect, together with subsequent events, in which I either had, or was supposed to have had, an agency, has become the subject of much severe animadversion. It is not easy to limit the influence of calumny and misrepresentation, and, therefore, it is very probable that impressions to my injury may have been effected. But, if there is an honest man in this State, or elsewhere, who supposes that I would shrink from the investigation of any charge which could be exhibited, or apprehend aught from the result of such investigation, he little knows how strongly I am fortified in conscious rectitude. As regards our militia, the total number was no more than equal, with the succor received in time from the sister States, to repel the invasion. This militia were badly armed, and destitute of camp equipage and munitions of war. Funds to procure these necessary supplies were not at my disposal, much less had I the means of providing for their transportation, subsistence and pay. To have retained the command, I must have declined obedience to the call, and, in that case, all the expenditures on account of our militia must have been defrayed by the State, conformably to the principles established by the War Department, as I then, and do still, understand them. p630 But, by meeting the requisition, these expenditures devolved upon the United States. Hence a part of the military have been paid off, and I shall be disappointed if the claims of the rest are not soon discharged with all the good faith which characterizes the General Government. A call on an individual State for its quota of any number of a required force, apportioned under the orders of the President among the several States, is a common occurrence. An obedience to it would always be considered by me as a duty imposed by the Constitution and laws. A demand on a State for its whole force can seldom happen. It perhaps never will be made on a State strong in population and rich in resources. Should it occur, the Governor, finding himself enabled, in any emergency, to move his militia with dispatch and effect, may be permitted to deliberate, before he gives up the whole of that force intrusted to him for the maintenance, within his own State, of good order and the supremacy of the law. But I was without any ground for hesitation; and the more readily placed our whole militia in the service of the United States, under a conviction that they would, in consequence, be brought to the field with more promptitude and efficacy. For such individual distress of feeling as may have resulted, I find an ample recompense in the triumphs of my country, to which the people of the State where I have long presided so greatly aided."
Availing himself of this opportunity to express his views in relation to the perturbation in New Orleans that had been produced by the course which General Jackson had deemed proper to pursue, after the retreat of the invaders, the Governor further said:
"Great as is the cause for patriotic exultation, on the glorious defence of the country, grateful as we must all feel for the rescue of this capital from capture, rapine, and perhaps conflagration, I shall never cease to regret that it was accompanied and succeeded by the prostration of a part of our laws and civil authorities. I know this is justified on the plea of necessity, and apparently to the satisfaction of the nation. I cannot suppose that any opinions of mine will in the least affect the public sentiment. They would probably have no other tendency than to raise the angry passions of the intolerant of the prevailing faith. But I shall not hesitate to say, that if, at any time, I listened to the doctrine of doing evil, that good might come out of it, and that the end justifies the means, I p631 am now convinced that the admission of this principle into affairs of State must prove invasive of the rights and destructive to the happiness of a free people. Yes, gentlemen, my experience in Louisiana has taught me how to reverence the sage advice of the great Washington, when he urges his countrymen to respect the authority of the laws, and cautions them to resist the spirit of innovation, however specious the pretext, and to permit no change by usurpation; for although this, says this illustrious patriot, may in one instance be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly counterbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit which the use can at any time yield."
The annual messages of our Governors, for some time after the formation of the State, used to be responded to, as the speech from the throne, on the opening of the sessions of the British Parliament, calls for an address from that body. This usage has since been discontinued. On this occasion, in reply to that part of the Governor's message in which he alluded to the violent measures pursued by General Jackson, the House of Representatives said: "Great indeed is the cause for patriotic exultation in the glorious defence of this country, and the rescue of this capital from the manifold dangers with which it was menaced. To Heaven, to the hero who led our forces, and to the brave men composing them, we owe the greatest gratitude; and where there is so much to admire, we are not disposed to dwell upon some deeds which we cannot approve."
2 See the testimony given before the Committee to investigate the causes which gave rise to a military interference with the Legislature on the 28th of December, 1814.
3 Martin's History, p394, vol. 2, Do. p395.
4 Martin's History of Louisiana, p397.
5 Martin's History of Louisiana, p398, vol. 2.
6 Claiborne's Letter to the Secretary of State, March 10, 1815. Executive Journal.
7 Executive Journal, Correspondence between Claiborne and Shaumburgh.
8 Executive Journal.
9 Martin's History, p405, vol. 2.
10 Martin's History, p404, vol. 2.
11 Webster's Dictionary.
12 Martin's History of Louisiana, p416, vol. 2.
13 Their names were J. B. Plauché, St. Geme, M. White, A. Guibert, Hudry, P. Roche, St. Jean, Coeur de Roy, De St. Romes, N. Thompson, C. Fremont, Duhulquod, L. Pillé, Benetaud, Huet, Lemounier.
14 Martin's History of Louisiana, p422, vol. 2.
15 Martin's History of Louisiana, p425, vol. 2.
a Louis de Tousard, though a French citizen, was not quite as French as it might seem here. A soldier by profession, he served in the American Army during the Revolution, and has half a claim to being the founder of the United States Military Academy. His background and his proposal to the American Secretary of War (1798) for a military school are examined in some detail in "The Forgotten 'Founder' of West Point", Military Affairs 24:177‑188.
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