News of the US: Week Four of December 1811

December 21:  Natchez — We have been informed by a gentleman of the first respectability, that letters have been received at the Cantonment Washington, from Gen. Hampton, dated Town of Mobile, &c. stating that he had possession of all the country claimed by the U. States, as far as the Perdido; and that an amicable arrangement had taken place between him and the Spanish authorities.  It is further said, that all the troops in this neighborhood have been ordered immediately to march to Baton Rouge and Mobile.–Richmond Enquirer, January 25, 1812.

December 21: We had, by yesterday’s western mail, New Orleans papers to the 28th.  On the 21st, the question was taken in the convention, and decided for a State 35–against it 7.  The day after, Mr. Magruder moved two resolutions; 1st, to adopt the Constitution of the U. States, which was unanimously carried; 2d to renounce all claims to the vacant lands, which was referred to a committee of three.–New York Commercial Advertiser, January 3, 1812

December 21:  From St. Louis —  “Some further account of the proceedings of the army on the Wabash, politely handed to us by Lieut. Vasquez of the regulars:  ‘Considerable execution was made in our ranks by the enemy’s arrows, indeed most of our slain were pierced by that weapon.  The regular troops cut up the enemy in a handsome style, each cartridge being made up with sixteen buckshot.  Since the arrival of the army at St. Vincennes, seven Kicapoo chiefs came there imploring peace; Gov. Harrison told them that he could not treat of peace until the Prophet was disposed of in some way.  They left there apparently determined to bring him in, dead or alive.”–Louisiana Gazette, December 21, 1811

December 22:  From Boston —   The anniversary of the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers of New-England, at Plymouth, in 1620, was suitably noticed in that ancient town on Sunday last; when a sermon was delivered by the Rev. Dr. Eliot, of this town.  The anniversary was likewise celebrated by the New-England Society in New-York, on Monday last.–Columbian Centinel, December 28, 1811

December 23:  From New York–   The passage of the resolution in Congress for arming merchantmen, (if agreed to by the senate, as it probably will be) will amount to nothing short of a virtual declaration of hostilities, and as such, we presume, it is considered and intended.–New-York Columbian, December 23, 1811

December 24:  House of Representatives —  Motions were laid on the table requesting the President to give further information respecting the Floridas, &c.–and also information relative to the situation of the Indiana Territory.–Providence Gazette, January 4, 1811

December 24:  From Providence —  A child was shockingly mangled at Norfolk (Vir.) a few days since by a Leopard, which was shewing as a sight.  The beast was in a cage, but the child approached so near that it was caught by the talons of the animal.–Providence Gazette, December 28, 1811

December 25:  Extract of a letter from a gentleman in Trenton.  “Hard to relate, but so it is, our friend general Moreau lost the whole of his dwelling and green houses by fire; the whole was consumed in less than two hours this morning, between five and six, about two-thirds of his furniture has been saved, no lives lost; fortunately Mrs. Moreau and daughter had gone to New-York last week, the general and some servants only remained at Morrisville.  It is suspected that the accident has occurred by the bursting of one of the new six plate stoves which are placed under the green-house.  The gardener had left every thing safe at four o’clock, when he had put a stick or two more to the fire, fearing that the intense cold of the morning should affect the plants.–National Intelligencer, December 31, 1811.

December 25:  The COURT MARTIAL  assembled at this place for the trial of Gen. Wilkinson, terminated their session on Christmas Day.  The sentence will of course be secret until it shall be acted on and promulgated by the President.--National Intelligencer, January 2, 1811

December 25:  From St. Louis —  “On Wednesday last, an express came to Governor Howard, from St. Genevieve, stating, that an attack had been made on the settlement of St.. Francis by the Osage Indians, report says 4 or 500 . . . “–Louisiana Gazette, December 28, 1811

December 26:  From Richmond — Last night about 11 o’clock, the play-house of this city was burnt to the ground in half an hour, it is said by a lamp catching to the upper scenery of the stage; and the flames spread like lightning.  Upwards of six hundred persons were in the house at the time, seventy or eighty of which are already ascertained to be burnt to death, or killed in endeavoring to escape out of the house; and we fear many were buried in the ruins.  It was a dreadful night, that never can be erased from my memory.–New-York Columbian, December 31, 1811

December 26:  “The Delaware was frozen 26th ult. and completely embargoed the port of Philad.  Several vessels bound up and down the river stopped in the ice.”–Salem Gazette, January 3, 1812

December 26:  From New Orleans —  “A letter from Fort Stoddert mentions, that on the morning of the 16th inst., two shocks of an earthquake had been felt.  This is precisely the time it was felt at Natchez.  It is evident that our being on an island and resting on the water, prevented us from feeling part of the shocks.”–Louisiana Gazette, February 29, 1812

December 28:  From St. Louis —  “Congress will muster 170 members at their next session.” –Louisiana Gazette, December 28, 1811

December 30:  GEN. WILKINSON ACQUITTED.  Our correspondent at Washington informs us that the court martial at Frederickstown has dissolved, and that the object of their rescearches and deliberations, gen. Wilkinson, has been  honorably acquitted of the charges adduced against him.  As it is conceived by the federalists, that if honor and integrity were to be found in the American army, they were embodied in the members of this court; and as it is not probable that any exertions in the power of his able and inveterate adversaries have been wanting to convict him; we hope we shall ear no more of the “acquitted felon,'” as he has been denominated by his personal and political enemies.–New-York Columbian, December 30, 1811

December 30:  From Tennessee — A letter has been received in this city, from a gentleman of the first respectability in Tennessee, which states that the Earthquake, so generally felt on the 16th of December, was so violent in the vicinity of his residence that several chimnies were thrown down; and that eighteen or twenty acres of land on Piney river, had suddenly sunk so low, that the tops of the trees were on a level with the surrounding earth.  Four other shocks were experienced on the 17th, and one or more continued to occur every day to the 30th ult. the date of the letter.–Richmond Enquirer, January 30, 1812

December 31:  House of Representatives  — The House, in committee of the whole, resumed the consideration of the unfinished business of yesterday (bill from the Senate for raising an additional military force.)  Mr. Williams immediately moved that the committee rise, for the purpose of taking up another bill from the Senate, authorizing the President to organize six companies of rangers, for the protection of the frontiers.  he had been informed that serious apprehensions were entertained in the Western country of another attack from the Indians.  It was therefore important to pass this bill as soon as possible.  Mr. Williams’s statement was confirmed by Mr. McKee, who observed, that information had been received that the Prophet had been reinforced to the amount of 2000 men, and that there was good reason to believe he meditated another attack.–Providence Gazette, January 11, 1812


These excerpts are taken verbatim from various American newspapers in the University of Texas’ Bound Newspapers Archive, now in the process of being digitized and returned to safe storage in the Library Storage Facility on the J.J. Pickle Research Campus of the University of Texas in Austin.  To see the current inventory of digitized files of this important historical resource, visit UT’s online Digital Repository (Library Owned Content).

For insights into the collection and the preservation process, visit researcher Mary Bowden’s blog in Viewpoint.

About the Author

Mary Bowden is a researcher working at the Texas Collections Deposit Library at the University of Texas. A little-known but invaluable treasure of U.S. history and the history of American journalism is archived in the collection of bound United States’ Newspapers at the University of Texas at Austin. The collection began more than a century ago and has been stored in recent years in the Texas Collections Deposit Library on the campus of the University of Texas. The sizeable archive is currently in the early stages of being digitized before being moved to a more climate-controlled environment at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus of the University, on the north side of Austin.

Mary Bowden