Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Most Americans, when they hear that the Texans want to secede from the union, immediately think the case parallels the Civil War (aka the War Between the States). They do not think of the War of 1812, when the New Englanders nearly seceded. Yes, folks, in those days it was the Yankees who couldn't stand the bull from Washington anymore. They even went so far as to meet in Hartford to go forward with their plans for secession. Here's how it went down.

First of all the New England merchants and farmers were sore at President James Madison. They hadn't voted for him, but for DeWitt Clinton, the Federalist candidate. When he declared war on Great Britain they were filled with alarm and venom. The war quickly began to go badly. The British blockaded all trade. The merchants lost money. In spite of New England's refusal to support the war with money or men, the federal government continued to fight against the British.

After two years of things not going their way, the Yankees decided they weren't going to take it anymore. In December of 1814, with the war dragging on, delegates came to Hartford from all over Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, as well as a few from New Hampshire and Vermont. Nobody knows how the treasonous meetings went, for they kept no minutes, possibly for fear of being hanged. In the end they backed down from outright secession and made a list of amendments they wanted made to the Constitution. They sent a delegation to Washington to put their list before the Republicans in charge of Congress, without hope of winning them over, but thinking to embarrass them.

The delegation arrived in Washington to make their constitutional demands about the same time that the news arrived that the Treaty of Ghent had been signed, Jackson had whupped the British in New Orleans, and the war was over. How embarrassed they must have been. The New England Federalist cause was irrelevant now. As a result not only the New England secessionist movement but the entire Federalist party lost all influence in the country, and withered away completely.

The Texans might want to think about that.

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