News of the US: Week One of April 1812

April 1:  “To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States.  Considering it as expedient, under existing circumstances and prospects, that a general Embargo be laid on all vessels now in port, or hereafter arriving for the period of 60 days.  I recommend the immediate passage of a law to that effect.  JAMES MADISON”–New York Spectator, April 11, 1812

April 1:  In the House of Representatives — Extract from a speech by John Randolph:  “If you meant war–if the spirit of the country was up to it, why have you not prepared?  Why have you been spending five months here in idle debate?–[The Speaker (Mr. Clay) called Mr. Randolph to order, for charging the house with spending 5 months in idle debate–The Chairman, Mr. Basset, decided that the expression was not out of order.  Mr. Wright appealed from the decision, which was confirmed, 50 ayes, 49 noes–Mr. Randolph then proceeded.]”–Boston Weekly Messenger, April 17, 1812

April 2:  From New York — “The commercial bustle which is occasioned by the news of an approaching Embargo is inconceivable.–We speak within bounds, when we assert, that not less than 50 vessels commenced loading yesterday.  It was extremely difficult to find the number of labourers which were wanted.”–Connecticut Mirror, April 6, 1812

April 2:  “The Senate . . . have concurred in the bill, for the admission of the state of Louisiana into the nation.”–New York Spectator, April 8, 1812

April 3:  “By Saturday’s Southern Mail, several letters were received from St. Marys, Savannah, &c. announcing that a body of men had assembled opposite St. Marys, in the Spanish Province of East-Florida, that they had erected the standard of independence, and were determined to march to St. Augustine and get possession of the fortress at that place.”–American Daily Advertiser, April 3, 1812

April 3:  In the House of Representatives, speech of James Emott of New York  — “He said he had information which satisfied him, that the fortifications in New York were not in a state to receive an enemy; that in fact, in their present situation, they were worse than nothing, as they produce abroad at least, and perhaps in this house, an impression of security which was altogether illusory.”–Boston Weekly Messenger, May 1, 1812

April 3:  Letter from a Member of Congress from Boston — “I have heretofore considered our situation as merely disgraceful, I now consider it as truly deplorable.  What do you think of war–an empty Treasury–no means of raising an Army but by loans–and no means of paying even the interests but by direct taxes?  Our commerce to be shut up, and our merchants to be ruined?”–Newport Mercury, April 11, 1812

April 4:  “An Act Laying an Embargo on all the ships and vessels in the ports and harbours of the United States for a limited time” was announced by an extra of the National Intelligencer. —American Daily Advertiser, April 7, 1812

April 4:  From Boston — “The brig Eliza Haley, capt. Bartlett, 55 days from Plymouth, Eng. (as a cartel) arrived at this port yesterday, with seventy passengers, being the captains and crews of American vessels, captured and carried into England by our ‘loving friend’ the English.”–Weekly Aurora, April 14, 1812

April 5:  From Baltimore — “By the ship Adriana, arrived yesterday, in 37 days from Gottenburg, we learn, that the Northern Powers were preparing for a hot summer with the French Emperor, who was at Mayence; he had manifested an intention and was momentarily expected to act against Russia.  The Sound and Belt this spring and summer will prove impassable without convoy–The French privateers are numerous, and capture all they fall in with”–New York Herald, April 11, 1812

April 6:  From Boston — “Never was there more bustle and exertion upon our wharves.–The labour of every man is put in requisition.  All this is to avoid the protection of our Government, which is expected to arrive here in a few days, in the old shape of AN EMBARGO.”–American Daily Advertiser, April 11, 1812

April 6:  From Washington, from Senator William Hunter of Rhode Island –“Embargo we have.–Double duties and Taxes come next–and then War, or permanent Embargo; unless you in the North have zeal, spirit and activity enough to prevent it.–Unless the people of Rhode-Island and Newport in particular, are bereft of their senses, they will now abandon this bewildered party, and save themselves and contribute to save their country.–Depend upon it, a clear decided expression of public opinion, might yet occasion a pause.–The people ought no longer to give way to Party feelings.  William Hunter.”–Newport Mercury, April 13, 1812

April 7:  “The Democratic Press states that in addition to the unusual activity created in Philadelphia, by the prospect of an Embargo, two dispatch vessels were bought, and the keel of a privateer 100 feet long was laid down and contracted to be finished in 90 days.”–National Intelligencer, April 7, 1812

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