The War of 1812. This event is often overlooked completely or given a cursory glance by the public and in the educational setting. Yet it was a pivotal moment in United States history that effected the entire country. But what was the war all about? What led up to it and how did the people of Darlington County, South Carolina respond to the declaration of war? In this series of blogs, we will lay some of the framework because all history is a tapestry of events leading up to the main event and the events following after. Nothing happens in a vacuum. Everything is being affected by everything else. We will end this series with the transcription of resolutions drafted by the Darlington Citizens Committee in response to the declaration of war in June 1812.
While the fledgling United States was striving to grow as a nation, all was not well in Europe. The French Revolution through the Napoleonic Wars (1789-1814) had created a state of constant war, especially between France and Britain. The British Navy had
succeeded in destroying the French Navy at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 and had turned its attention to decimating France’s economy. They attacked French ships and blockaded French sympathetic ports. Britain put restrictions on trade so that France would not be able to receive foreign goods. Anyone wishing to trade with Europe had to follow these restrictions or their ports were blockaded, their ships attacked and boarded, and their goods and sailors taken by the British. France retaliated with restrictions of their own, attacking and refusing access to ports of any ships friendly to Britain. The two went back and forth, issuing one decree after another and making life miserable for any nation wanting to trade in Europe.
To make matters worse, the British Navy was in need of sailors and they sent out press gangs, taking experienced seamen off the streets and forcing them to work in the navy. They went a step further and attacked all types of vessels and pressed sailors into service. Needless to say, this did not sit well with the United States, who was experiencing its own naval problems with Barbary Pirates in the Mediterranean.
These pirates were attacking US ships, taking their crews, and then forcing the U.S. to pay exorbitant ransoms to get them back. At first the United States did its best to pay the ransoms. But with trade being limited, the government did not have the funds to continue paying ransoms. So they sent their tiny navy into the Mediterranean to combat the pirate threat. Pressures escalated on all sides and with rising pressures, these, and a host of other events, led to the events on the following posts.
“Barbary Pirate”. 2018. Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed July 12 2018. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Barbary-pirate
” Barbary Pirates, Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1911 “. 2018. Penelope.Uchicago.Edu. Accessed July 12 2018. http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Gazetteer/Topics/history/American_and_Military/Barbary_Pirates/Britannica_1911*.html
Benner, Dave, Brion McClanahan, Michael Arnheim, and Joe Wolverton. 2016. “Jefferson And The Barbary Pirates | Abbeville Institute”. Abbevilleinstitute.Org. Accessed July 12 2018. https://www.abbevilleinstitute.org/review/jefferson-and-the-barbary-pirates/
“The Mariners’ Museum : Birth Of The U.S. Navy”. 2018. Marinersmuseum.Org. Accessed July 12 2018.