|June 19, 2012
By Justin Raimondo - Antiwar.com
The two-hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the War of 1812 is upon us, and I’m shocked and surprised the War Party hasn’t planned a celebration: after all, as Jefferson Morley points out in Salon, this was the first neocon war, i.e. an unnecessary war of choice. Perhaps the reason for this shameful lack of hosannas is that it wasn’t particularly successful: the Brits burned Washington and routed our militias, while the glorious conquest of Canada – where, Americans were told, the inhabitants would shower us with rose petals at the moment of their “liberation” – was rudely repulsedby the ungrateful Canadians.
The stated reason for the war – the forcible impressments of British deserters and American citizens on the high seas – had little to do with reality. After all, the Brits had been doing this since the Revolution, and their actions, while hardly conducive to Anglo-American relations, in no way threatened the survival of the Republic. Much more important, as a factor in starting the war, was the agitation of the “warhawks,” a group of younger members of the Jeffersonian (or Democratic-Republican) party in Congress, who charged that His Majesty’s Government was encouraging attacks on American settlers by the Indians, and who dreamed of conquering Canada. Indeed, the latter motivation was underscored by the libertarian congressman John Randolph, who declared:
“Sir, if you go to war it will not be for the protection of, or defense of your maritime rights. Gentlemen from the North have been taken up to some high mountain and shown all the kingdoms of the earth; and Canada seems tempting to their sight. That rich vein of Gennesee land, which is said to be even better on the other side of the lake than on this. Agrarian cupidity, not maritime right, urges the war. Ever since the report of the Committee on Foreign Relations came into the House, we have heard but one word- like the whip-poor-will, but one eternal monotonous tone- Canada! Canada! Canada!”
The warhawks, led by John Calhoun, were motivated less by outrage over British harassment of American persons and commerce than by the emerging delusion of Manifest Destiny that energized the earliest advocates of an international American empire. The Appalachian and southern states were the epicenter of this ultra-nationalistic agitation, and the editors of the Nashville Clarion gave voice to the imperialist impulse when they asked:Read More...