The War With the United States : A Chronicle of 1812 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 123 pages of information about The War With the United States .

The Indians.  Nearly all the Indians sided with the British or else remained neutral.  They were, however, a very uncertain force; and the total number that actually served at the front throughout the war certainly fell short of five thousand.

This completes the estimate of the opposing forces-of the more than half a million Americans against the hundred and twenty-five thousand British; with these great odds entirely reversed whenever the comparison is made not between mere quantities of men but between their respective degrees of discipline and training.

But it does not complete the comparison between the available resources of the two opponents in one most important particular—­finance.  The Army Bill Act, passed at Quebec on August 1, 1812, was the greatest single financial event in the history of Canada.  It was also full of political significance; for the parliament of Lower Canada was overwhelmingly French-Canadian.  The million dollars authorized for issue, together with interest at six per cent, pledged that province to the equivalent of four years’ revenue.  The risk was no light one.  But it was nobly run and well rewarded.  These Army Bills were the first paper money in the whole New World that never lost face value for a day, that paid all their statutory interest, and that were finally redeemed at par.  The denominations ran from one dollar up to four hundred dollars.  Bills of one, two, three, and four dollars could always be cashed at the Army Bill Office in Quebec.  After due notice the whole issue was redeemed in November 1816.  A special feature well worth noting is the fact that Army Bills sometimes commanded a premium of five per cent over gold itself, because, being convertible into government bills of exchange on London, they were secure against any fluctuations in the price of bullion.  A special comparison well worth making is that between their own remarkable stability and the equally remarkable instability of similar instruments of finance in the United States, where, after vainly trying to help the government through its difficulties, every bank outside of New England was forced to suspend specie payments in 1814, the year of the Great Blockade.



President Madison sent his message to Congress on the 1st of June and signed the resultant ‘war bill’ on the 18th following.  Congress was as much divided as the nation on the question of peace or war.  The vote in the House of Representatives was seventy-nine to forty-nine, while in the Senate it was nineteen to thirteen.  The government itself was ‘solid.’  But it did little enough to make up for the lack of national whole-heartedness by any efficiency of its own.  Madison was less zealous about the war than most of his party.  He was no Pitt or Lincoln to ride the storm, but a respectable lawyer-politician, whose forte was writing

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The War With the United States : A Chronicle of 1812 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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