News of the US: Week Four of January 1812

January 24: In the House of Representatives, the Navy Bill — “The question then was, will the house concur in striking out the 2d section, which provides for the building of an additional number of frigates. Mr. David R. Williams was in favor of it, and decidedly against a naval force. He considered a navy for this country as unnecessary, unsafe, and inadequate. The place to avenge our wrongs is upon the land, and not upon the ocean. . . He wished to God that he could even conceive of his passion, of his deadly hatred, towards Great Britain. If he had the command of the red artillery of heaven, he would drive that safe anchored Island from her moorings . . . .”–New York Spectator, January 29, 1812

January 24: From the Connecticut Courant — “Scare-crow style–Noted as a part of the American Congress has been over the world for this kind of style, no one else of its members has carried it quite so far as Mr. D. R. Williams of South-Carolina . . . It was not enough for him to destroy the British nation, root and branch; but the Island, yea the Island itself, safe-anchored though it be, he would ‘drive from its moorings!'”–New York Spectator, March 18, 1812

January 25: “A New-Orleans paper of the 25th says ‘The Convention yesterday elected Eligins Fromentin and Allan R. Magruder, Esquires, delegates to carry on the Constitution they had adopted, for the approbation of Congress.'”–National Intelligencer, February 20, 1812

January 25: Fire at New-York. “Last night, between the hours of 12 and 1, the Steam Engine Manufactory, in Greenwich street, belonging to Messsrs. Livingston and Fulton, was, in one hour, reduced to ashes. The Boring-Mill, Turning Lathes, Forges, and works had just been finished for making Steam Engines, and all parts of useful and powerful machinery–such a work has been long wanted. The disappointment to the public is great, and the loss of the proprietors is considerable.–It is believed to be the work of incendiaries. A man has been taken up on suspicion; that a full discovery may take place, is most devoutly to be wished.”–Richmond Enquirer, February 4, 1812

January 26: From New York — A circumstance which occurred on board the frigate Essex this morning having excited considerable anxiety in town, we have taken the pains to ascertain the facts, at the navy-yard, and detain the press to give them to the public. John Irvin, the man who was tarred & feathered, has been known by his own account before and since he belonged to the navy, as a native of Salem, Mass, in which town he says he served his apprenticeship with Mr. Lane, a sail-maker. He entered on board the Essex, at Boston, about ten months since, signed the articles, and took the oath of allegiance…. This morning . . . captain Porter called all hands again and addressed them on the subject of the war, repeating his wish that any man who was unwilling to continue in the service would give in his name and receive his discharge; to which the crew as before, replied with three unanimous cheers. Shortly after, he ordered up the men in their respective gangs and tendered them the oath of allegiance, which was cheerfully taken by every man on board excepting Irvin, who refused, and declared himself an Englishman. Upon this, the petty officers and crew of the ship, to whom capt. Porter has uniformly submitted the award of punishing offences committed on board his ship, requested permission to inflict severe corporal punishment on the offender, which the captain, with his characteristic humanity, refused, & suffered them to dismiss him with a coat of old fashioned yankee manufacture, with appropriate labels, in which he appeared in our streets: where he excited so much curiosity, that the police interfered and took charge of him to prevent a riot.–Richmond Enquirer, July 23, 1812, reprinting New York Columbian

January 27: In the House of Representatives — “Mr. Nelson was not afraid of any danger to our liberty or republican institutions, from an army of 25,000 men; far less in any navy we could build. He was under no apprehension that Commodore Decatur or Rodgers would sail up the Potomac, and turn the members out of the house into the river.”–Connecticut Mirror, February 10, 1812

January 27: From Washington — “The Senate have confirmed the nomination of Henry Dearborn, as Major General and Commander in Chief of the American Army. Ayes, twenty-three–Noes, nine.”–New York Spectator, January 30, 1812

January 28: In the House of Representatives — “Mr.. Jackson presented a memorial and remonstrance . . . . This remonstrance was very long, and contained a number of severe reflections upon the measures of government. After the reading had progressed for some time, the further reading of the paper was objected to, on the ground of its being indecorous.”–National Intelligencer, January 30, 1812

January 29: “A Correspondent is much grieved to find the democratic papers, and their friends and supporters, whose mouths have watered some time to ‘take Canada,’ should be so much out of temper at the disclosure of Mr. Gallatin’s project to raise the cash to support the brave fellows who are expected to go upon this important service. Surely, the friends of war cannot be so unreasonable, and so unfeeling as to wish to sent 25000 and one men, to that cold province without clothes, without food, and without ardent spirits, at least as good as potatoe gin.”–New York Spectator, January 29, 1812

January 30: “In the House of Representatives, the bill appropriating money for the support of the Navy has passed the third reading. As passed, the bill proposes to appropriate 480,000 dollars for repairs of the vessels in ordinary, and 200,000 dollars annually, for three years, for the purchase of timber for ship building.”–Richmond Enquirer, February 4, 1812.

January 30: A letter from St. Mary’s –“Two regiments are ordered from Nassau to St. Augustine, and orders are given to permit no American officer to land in East Florida.”–Maryland Gazette, January 30, 1812

January 31: “The bill authorising the acceptance by the Executive of the services of a corps of volunteers, was yesterday passed its third reading in the Senate, having received only one material amendment, viz. a reduction of the appropriation it contains from three millions to one.”–National Intelligencer, February 1, 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