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A House Divided: New York and the War of 1812

November 10, 1:00 PM

New Yorkers went into the War of 1812 bitterly divided. During municipal elections in New York City, congressional, and state elections from 1812-1815 New Yorkers debated the merits of the war. In the state legislature the Federalist controlled Assembly passed anti-war resolutions while the Republican controlled Senate passed pro-war resolutions accurately reflecting the divisions within public opinion on the merits of the war. Federalists and Republicans argued over the meaning of the war, its impact on civil liberties, and whether is was a partisan war to help the re-election of President James Madison or America's second war for independence to preserve republicanism from British tyranny. These issues got played out in the 1813 gubernatorial election between Governor Daniel Tompkins running for his third term, and his Federalist challenger Stephen Van Rensselaer, the focus of this lecture. However, even municipal elections were fought on the war as New York City's Republican newspaper editor Henry Wheaton told his readers in November 1813 "wipe off from your city the disgrace of being governed by friends of Great Britain" oust the Federalists and vote Republican. The war led to widespread smuggling as trade continued with the enemy in Canada via Lake Champlain. In New York City trade restrictions produced widespread poverty as flour, sugar, coffee, tea, firewood, and coal "are now beyond the reach of the great body of the people" as one fifth of New York's population became dependent on municipal handouts of cash, food, and firewood. No wonder New Yorkers rejoiced when word of peace arrived on February 11, 1815. Church bells chimed while Broadway sang the song of peace.

St. Paul's Church National Historic Site

897 S Columbus Ave
Mount Vernon, NY  10550-5018

For further information about this event, please contact:

David Osborn
Phone: (914) 667-4116
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This lecture is a part of the Speakers in the Humanities program.