tv American History TV CSPAN September 3, 2014 4:00pm-4:51pm EDT
needed to have a much stronger resistance than he had in the past. how do we know this? we know this because an editorial in the administration newspaper -- oh, sorry. sorry about that. i wasn't looking behind me. there was an editorial in the administration newspaper, the newspaper that could have been trashed when he was in washington in 1814, and we know from the diary of the paper, that madison dictated the contents of that editorial to
the editor of the national intelligence. what that means is that as early as the spring of 1811, madison was considering very seriously the need to go to war with great britain. and this is seven months before the 12th congress and its warhawks meet in washington. now, the negotiations between monroe and madison confirmed madison's suspicions. not only did the british have no intention of changing their policies, they also announced effectively that they would continue with these policies for as long as it took for them to end poland's domination of europe. this is 1811, remember. and in 1811, nobody was predicting that napoleon bonaparte would be gone from the
national scene by 1813. in 1811, no one was counting on napoleon going away any time soon. in response to that situation, madison called the congress into a 12:30 session. his reason for doing so was that he had decided that he now had no other option to prepare for a war against great britain. again, he took this decision weeks and weeks before the 12th congress met in washington, before congressmen knew what policies they might have to pass. so how can we say that the faction of warhawks forced madison into a war that he did not want? quite simply, we cannot say that and we should not say it. it's one of these myths that's very hard to kill off, but it's simply not true. the role of the warhawks at times was very different.
they were not the makers of american policy towards great britain, though an immediate spokesman worked its way through committees and votes in the house of representatives as congress prepared for war in the first six months of november -- late after november 1811. but the prime mover of american policy here is not congress, it's a prison and madison. madison tried to shake policy in the war of 1812. the question is, how well did this work for him as commander in chief? the answer was a rather mixed one. in most cases, the policies of the administration sought past the house of representatives. they did not necessarily pass the senate. the reason for this is the senate is not controlled by a
simple majority of republican votes. rather, the senate administration supports in the senate could often be outmaneuvered to anti-administration republicans who didn't like james madison very much. the result was that the administration did not always get the legislation it wanted or it didn't give it an efficient timely manner. it did have an adverse effect on implementation of policy throughout the war. this can be demonstrated in any number of ways. i'll just give two quick examples. one is the decision to expand the size of the american army in the first six months of 1812. the other example is all the debates of how you finance the war in the second half of 1814
when the war is going extremely badly with the united states. to put it simply, the extended army never got full control. by the end of 1814, the united states is facing severe financial difficulties, the congress cannot pass its legislation and solve those problems out, and the situation got so bad, as i think somebody has mentioned, by the end of 1814 s 1814, the united states has indeed faulted on the national debt. i should add here that nobody in this room should tell congress that this has happened. we do not want to encourage bad behavior on the part of le legislatures any time in the near future. that's what happened at the end of that war. madison had no hold or cleft
over congressmen. he did not beg them for votes, he did n-- just to imagine the scenario shows how impossible that is at this point in american history. but the problem is not that madison did not try to influence congress, he did try to influence congress by the means that were available to them at that time. the president didn't have much of what he sought. how did madison manage his
cabinet as old add manipulation during the war? and again, i think it's rather a missi mixed one. in 1817, in the white house, madison had two secretary of state, two attorneys general, three secretaries of the lady, four secretaries of the treasury and four secretaries of war. already any number of historians who have just said, this man couldn't hold a cabinet to save hifls. this is the symptom of all things that weapon wrong in the, with his cabinet. i'll look at the two. madison's first secretary of war, a man named eustis, it's
pretty clear, had very few ideas about strategy or tactics. and he was compelled more or less to act as this glorified postmaster general. he would think about larger problems on how to defeat the british. he was forced out in 1812 and monroe could have handled the details of the war problems, and as monroe comes back into the war department after the british had burned, but much of what monroe did when he was in the war department was designed to position himself to become
president in 1817. and enacting in that way, he fueled a very little bit of food with the second wofld war who actually held office from 1813 to 1814. the problem was madison also wanted to be president in 1817. neither armstrong nor monroe feel they've lost an opportunity to undercut each other throughout the war. this culminated when the british declined to participate 100%. monroe has been accused of meddling with the organization of troops.
and i think all historians feel that madison somehow should have stopped this feud. he should have clamped down firmly on them or sat one or both of these people down. but madison did not follow armstrong nor monroe, and he seemed to be too willing to tolerate colleagues who were clearly self-serving and very disputatious. only half of the problem, i think, lies in madison's personality. certainly as was mentioned, he was not with a confrontational style. he liked to avoid unpleasantness if he possibly could. but the real problem was madison had the most difficulty getting anyone to become a candidate at
all. he went through a raft of candidates just to try to get somebody to serve on the job. he got far more refusals. in the early 19th century, people thought the cabinet position was worth the sacrifices it entailed. and madison would have to settle for anything he could get, and he attempted to retain them for as long as he possibly could. that state of affairs imparted a reactive rather than a proactive quality to madison's decision making. he often appeared to deal with problems only when they had gotten out of hand and it was impossible to ignore them any further. now, in the matters of wartime policy, standard criticisms made that he spent too much time pursuing the strategies of war after 1812. what this means specifically is when the americans invaded
canada, the united states attacked the wrong places in canada. they rested on control of wartime payback. but they frittered away their resources, which all of this is true enough. but i think that situation did not arise from effective understanding of the strategic victory. almost every year of the war, it was clearly understood that montreal was the first and most important topic for the americans to get control of, that they could then move on eastward to maritimes. the campaigns in regions west of montreal were made either in response to the need to devote more resources to local defense,
particularly hostile indians of the united states, or they were undertaken as preliminaries to advances on places with much greater stra teetegic significa. the problem was these failed and created new difficulties that required different attention or resources. the result was that the united states became bogged down in a series of small conflict that did not adhere to any form of strategy in the larger war it had won. if that was the case, the problem with the american war was not so much an effective strategy as the inability to develop sufficient military peril to surmount the other's success. moving on, what were these other obstacles to success and how far can madison be held personally
responsible for? most of them center around three factors. one is the defect in the u.s. army. second in reels to that is the overreliance on trained forces, and the other one is the inability of the united states to cope with the logistic problems of invading canada and wñnorth. now, it has been all been said and i want to mention today that they tried to take canada. it was only a little war of 30,000 man strong. however, a statistical analysis of the surviving suggest that there was probably something near about 48,000 men in the
u.s. army end of the war. that's a fairly significant difference. it's about 15,000 men. and on top of that, you've got to consider that in terms of manpower, the united states had the advantage over canada of about 15-1 in terms of its population. you put all that together, and you think surely the united states would have been able to defeat the sources in canada. but it was not. there is the possibility that we have to deal with british forces as they frequently do in 1813
and 1814. that left comparatively few troops available for operations against canada. even at the height of a war in the summer of 1814, they could take no more than 4,000 regular troops in canada. there simply wasn't anyonea19j dispose around the shores of lake anterro. now, what can we say about the quality of these troops? how well were they trained? well, they were scarcely trained at all. now, i want to be careful about what i'm saying here. i'm not saying the army received no training. it did receive training of
various sorts at a fairly rudimentary level. the real problem was that the army had no uniform system for training men, and, in fact, the united states army employed three quite incompatible people to try to train men throughout the war of 1812. this created difficulties for generals and higher officers who had to then try to meld men who trained in different ways into a unified force to contend with the enemy that was trained in a eunified and significant way. trained troops would always beat untrained troops, and so it was proved in the war of 1812. in fact, it wasn't until january 2015 that they convened officers to address the problem of how to train the army and what was the
uniform effort? by january 15, the war has one month to run. so is the president responsible for this? should madison sort out this problem and say, we need to train the army in a better way. you might say that he did, but then you might say, well, this is the sort of problem that the secretary of war should solve. they're supposed to have the expertise. but there was no evidence that anyone in the war department, either james monroe or john armstrong, had the slightest idea that this was a problem during the war. it would take officers like winfield scott who learned the hard way about what it took to train men. how they managed to treat them about the enemy.
because of that, it was always necessary to supplement its numbers with militia.&/p&ñ the situation was far worse than few militias. the federal government could call militias under specific conditions, but it had no authorization to give them training. those matters were left to the states, and basically the states did nothing about it in the early 19th century. despite the fact that the prisons said, we have our problems here. congress refused to address it. nevertheless, the fiascos that occurred in the war of 1812 are always associated with emotion. i'll give you two examples. one was the battle of queens
heights in 1812 when they refused to cover over the niagara river to reinforce regular troops who had actually managed to gain a toehold on the canadian shore of the niagara river. the militia refused to the grounds that the constitution did not oblige to serve outside the boundaries of new york state. of course, the battle of bladensburg in 1814 when a real motley crew simply had the british army of about two-thirds its size. there were logistic problems. that has always been seen as a very serious problem bothering the american warhead. and it's a problem by deciding to attack canada, because the united states had committed itself to an offensive war that
was over 1,000 miles in length and required to supply it from towns that were well on the frontier. demographic and geographic realities come with the frontier. the population is far too sparse to an army. you just couldn't throw an army up there and say, feed yourself and mamp on the british. it was much more complicated than that. the problem is the united states had very rudimentary such -- supplies in 1822. so it's not terribly surprising they could run problems in
getting the. now, all these factors, you will find, have been discussed. >> i think we need to read the war of 1812 satisfactorily. how does madison thipg about these problems, and did he ever. well, for the war years. beyond saying, of course, that we were disappointed, the war was not gk of the as he put what
does, that he enkourpted during the war. i want to say something about tho those. . >> now, at this point i nowhere does mady sop take the blame that anything went wrong. in rethet retrospect, he was no about the war. he said, why did we have to go to war? well, it was the british. the british were not needed for
war. in response to the child that the job was add. well, that was congress yes, sir '. and the time i wanted them, i think we would see a very different picture. on that is. of the it's a very difficult and pob enterprise of the what echt to share with you on the leader hetd. >> if, when two american faermz will. madison summed up this following way. and i quote, the difficulties by
the plour of the we want all to be passed and reach the distant theater and he was home amidst all his sources for defense, closed quote. madison also listed two other factors that he considered to be paramount points. one has already been alluded to in previous talks, and that was the failure of napoleon. this is a subject that has gained some kroecontroversy sin. but 1927, madison opened that he expected him not to minimum. and he said that had napoleon be successful in the war of 186.
. fofr being so is, that great brit. . like he said, the british wouldn't have had any choice, and bucking to our reasonable terms of reconciliation. the other factor that matters when we went to great length without and the pool quality of american generals during the war. if you reed any history. there are people who don't know what their job is and i've found countless excuse for not doing
it yet. after all, he had signed the commissions for most of them and had a role in selecting them. but when we look at this closely, we see what matters, and there's not so much intent on blaming all the jenz as he was in 41 jegeneral in particul. that general ffs was soesd to meet me back. then in august 1812. he withdrew to a smaller home. my.
>> how am i using the dpens that he had good for. he will sewell that they had of the buddy, would it be massacre of all women and court? >> yes ful. >> now madison was not. it was only 1827. and madison said, how is. and thep he wrote, and i quote, what would be so easy with the set until you experience the
county of rocks. lake erie has off and on fallen into us. . general at the kuchbt set forwa the intrigues to have been suspected in state, closed quote. in short, what madison was suggesting here was that the united states never recovered from the impact of war, and the impact of the setback was so serious that it hampered all other aspects of the prosecution of war. this is at least an arguable case.
all the arguments that had been used before to explain what went wrong in the war of 1812 can be offset by other effect of the words that need to be away from the balance before a judge can be made both about the war itself and also as commander in chief. in other words, we can carry this progress on if qualification after qualification. now, two verdicts can be reached from this point. one is to throw up our hands in despair and see, these problems are way too successful after the
war was so difficult. the nation was in a condition to wage the war. now, you might say this is true enou enough. but that answer would have left madison with no solution to the problems the nation is facing as he understood them in the year 1811. he was making critical decisions. this is what we really lack, presidential decisions at this point in american history. all the decisions fall heavily on the presidencies of abraham and franklin roosevelt.
americans in the 19th century popped relevant. george washington's job as a brigadier general is not appropriate for us to use here, and early 19th century americans were held deeply in theaters in time of war. the way they sought did think about the nature of executive power. they couldn't believe that the role of the president could rally the troops with the public at large. in other words, it wasn't the president's job to go out and campaign personally the war he was trying to wage. madison had seen john adams try to do something very similar at the end of the 1719s.
if you go on to read, john edwards absolutely far exceeded the priorities of what was legitimate executive expectation at that time. these concerns of madison took greater restraint during the war rather than the dangers of going to excess. >> now, that might be a. with all these failures the historians talk about, there were some. it deny lose the war, either. the british cannot and that did not achieve their. myles summer.
had snake belts and fairly large planes that they might advance toward the united states. l there was talk about altering the wouboundaries of the united states, making sure it skrechd. what difficulties might there be? and it failed despite the fact they ush erd a. it was still out and told that they had lost something and she had won. .
>> this is why many of the historians have divided that the war of 1812. the draw to me in part is that the two fairly evenly matched forces failed to achieve success in a contest. but the united states and great britain couldn't even be matched. the war then ended not so much as a draw but as a stalemate that was born with the inability of confidence to find ways to continue conflict. having come to that point toward the end of 1814, both eventually settled for peace that restored the status quo and that peace was signed in 1814.
we might even qualify that verdict a little further. we might say we won, but there were no losers in the war. all historians agree that the real losers in the war of 1812 were the indian peoples, a good many whom fought on the side of the british but a good number also fought on the side of the united states. americans tend to forget that it was their fault. despite all the choices, they suffered disproportionately. a number of casualties occurred and they were forced to concede large areas of land to the united states. these land sections, especially the gulf coast and regions to
the south, ensured that the unite states was going to dominate the heartland in the future. i tell you that because this is an outcome that could not necessarily have been taken for granted. in hindsight, it looks sort of wrong. they have since talked about that, and in 1898, there was no question that the colonies were going to be for american goodwill and toleration for the british. madison presided over these developments and played a crucial role in shaping the development of the merp nation state in the 19th century.
the influence of those were felt well into the 19th century. he did this model at the same time, trying to preserve his vision of what sort of nation the united states would be, and he did not use the emergency of war to bring about changes. the war of 1812, i would like to remind us, was one of the few wars in the nation's history that was fought without any restrictions on the civil libertys of its critics. that was a decision that madison was determine. president john adams had resorted to it in 1900 during the quasi war with france. this is a rather tangled picture, admittedly, but in a
complicated nation of these developments, there were some successes. and i think madison probably should be give n credit for som of them. thank you very much. [applause] >> the floor is open. >> gien the faven the fact cong declare war, given the fact that madison did not like the campaign, why is it that mr.
madison was given sole ownership of a war? >> i'm not quite sure i would agree with the premise. people said pretty uncharitable things about things like the war and i find it inconceivable that there would have been a war with mexico had james polk not insisted on it. i think, to come back to the premise of your question. ma madison seemed to be of what a prison, not accomplished at that point in nation's history, you can say, lincoln! . but i think no prison could have operated that way in the early
19th century. they're just not taking place in american political development at that time. i think to have made that possible for a prison to do that. so the war of 1812 is a mess. how do we explain the mess? well, blame it on madison. that's what a lot of historians have done. that's what critics at the time did when they wished to criticize the war and all that seems to be going wrong with it. so we recycle stories through history like that. >> yes, thank you. if my memory -- >> sorry. >> if my memory serves me right, there is some provision in the treatmenty of, that talks about a promise to deal with the indian issue, native american issue and slavery. why was that put in there and whatever happened?
>> in both cases, effectively nothing, to give you the short answer first. the provision relating to the slave trade is the british were writing a treaty and they were trying to make the united states -- the united states undertook to take more active steps in the suppression of the atlantic slave trade which at this point was the only nation in the world that was seriously interested in doing, even though the united states also abolished the atlantic trade, i think, in 1808. the british put it in. the americans agreed to sign the treaty document, but the americans were very bad at enforcing that. they did not really cooperate with the british. one of the worst offenders was john quincy adams who signed the treaty, he was the principal
negotiator at gent, and do you think john quincy adams could force the trade when he was president a few years later? no z and one of the reasons is it required the naval vessels to have stopped american merchant men and slaves in the coast of africa ask snd say, let me see cargo. let me see your manifest. this was sdplz and john quincy adams, who was the last wuchb in his open right, so that became pretty much a dead letter. the other clause you're referring to is an agreement that the united states and the british would undertake to restore the indians to the safest place in 1811, the year before the war broke out.
now, the british insisted on this even though we know as they were doing this, they were in the process of throwing indian allies to the wind in 1782 and 1783. the british put there largely a fight-saying device. in the beginning of negotiations, the british had insisted on the establishment of the indian state earlier. that went nowhere. the british ministers told them, drop that. we're not prepared to rupture the torch over that. so the british came up with this as a face-saving formula for the purposes of ice declarations.
probably neither side in. it was certainly an extent to how bad it was. andrew jackson, as he ended the creek war, took 780 acres of land from the creek indians. the way his treaty was supposed to end it. and the merpz were not prepared to see a negotiation break up over a point like that at that stage. they wanted out of this war at that time, too. it was pretty much a dead letter. nobody took any notice of t least of all andrew jackson when he became president a few years
later. thank you. >> did it say there was a loss was because the new englanders wrote the history books? >> the theory is that new england wrote of the history, ask that is true, and the classic case in point was henry adams who, of course, was the son of presidents, great-grandson of presidents who wrote the classic history of the united states during this period. and he waxed he will kwept about the flaws of these virginian presidents, et cetera, et
cetera, et cetera. not that adams was particularly sympathetic of the new englanders, but you're right, that bias has entered the history and there wasn't so much they wrote it but that they believed the word of the new englanders. >> madison was onu1ñ the potoma but i can't find any writings about it. >> the call council in the city of philadelphia after th b burning of washington did make it known to the add manipulation that if the federal government wanted to move, they're welcome to move back to philadelphia, which, of course, he had been there before in 1800. this was debated at quite?wv so
length in congress. madison appeared to be largely inactive or passive behind the cerebral pal scenes. why is it that every time i go through another reading that go. but i did find that madison let it be known that had that bill be passed, he would be killed. the source of that is not madison himself, but it can be documented on the period. >> where would you say are the most serious kargts of the war of 1812? >> what were the most serious casualties in the war of 1812?
well, i suppose we should say off the bat, the most serious casualty is the loss of life. so how many americans were killed in the war of 1812? this is rather difficult to calculate. nobody kept precise figures on this sort of thing. the list was given with about , 2,500 americans, in other words, they died as a direct result of combat and the war. i did some calculations and i found that, in fact, about 10% more of the army died of disease, sickness and other causes that are not directly related to battle, that was simply a product of the very unhealthy nature of military
camps, the inability of army commanders to provide decent sanitation and these sorts of things, which the diseases, if they got in an very, very toll on life an substantially more men on the american side died as a result of disease, sickness, than they ever did with the british. and then of course there's a bit of collateral damage that occurs when militia die as a result of what is portrayed to the sort of what we'll be talking about. we might estimate perhaps 15,000 or 16,000 americans died one way or another as a result of the war of 1812. the indians suffered i think proportionately rather a high percentage of losses. we don't know precisely because we don't have very good figures for