By Richard Buel
Read Online or Download America on the Brink: How the Political Struggle Over the War of 1812 Almost Destroyed the Young Republic PDF
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Extra info for America on the Brink: How the Political Struggle Over the War of 1812 Almost Destroyed the Young Republic
Qxd 2/11/04 1:03 PM Page 22 22 America on the Brink might expand beyond the borders defined by the peace of 1783, and the Constitution made no provision for the incorporation of new territories into the nation. Jefferson was doubly sensitive to the constitutional dilemma that Louisiana posed. Not only did he wish to reconcile honest opponents to Republican rule, but Federalist actions in the late 1790s had shown how important constitutional safeguards were to the preservation of public liberty.
All expressed concern that Britain intended to use the Rule of 1756 to assert arbitrary control over America’s commerce and complained of the sudden, unexpected change in British policy as a violation of the nation’s neutral rights. 68 The Boston Memorial was the one exception. While it asserted that acquiescing in Britain’s claims would constitute “an abandonment of rights openly recognized, and a dereliction of the most important commercial interests of our country,” it recommended that the federal government send a special mission to Britain.
In retrospect the success of this diplomatic initiative in producing an accommodation with France even made it seem wise. The news of the Franco-American Convention of 1800 arrived in the United States just before the Electoral College met to choose the next president. But instead of politically benefiting the administration, the diplomatic initiative worked to Jefferson’s advantage. Cabinet opposition to his peace initiative had finally led Adams to dismiss Timothy Pickering, his secretary of state, and James McHenry, his secretary of war.