March 1, 1812 – Andrew Jackson’s Call for Militia Volunteers


“Citizens! Your government has at last yielded to the impulse of the nation. Your impatience is no longer restrained. The hour of national vengeance is now at hand. The eternal enemies of American prosperity are again to be taught to respect your rights, after having been compelled to feel, once more, the power of your arms. War is on the point of breaking out between the United States and the King of Great Britain! and the martial host of America are summoned to the Tented Fields!…

“A simple invitation is given to the young men of the country to arm for their own and their countries rights. On this invitation 50,000 volunteers, full of martial ardor, indignant at their countries wrongs and burning with impatience to illustrate their names by some signal exploit, are expected to repair to the national standard.

“Could it be otherwise? Could the general government deemit necessary to force us to take the field? We, who for so many years have demanded a war with such clamourous importunity – who, in so many resolutions of town meetings and legislative assemblies, have offered our lives and fortunes for the defense of our country – who, so often and so publickly, have charged this very government with a pusillanimous deference to foreign nations, because she had resolved to exhaust the arts of negotiation before she made her last appeal to the power of arms. Under such circumstances it was impossible for the government to conceive that compulsion would be wanting to bring us into the field…

“But another and nobler feeling should impel us to action. Who are we? and for what are we going to fight? are we the titled Slaves of George the Third? the military conscripts of Napoleon the great? or sons of America: the citizens of the only republic know existing in the world : and the only people on earth who possess rights, liberties, and property which they dare call their own.

“We are going to fight for the reestablishment of our national character, misunderstood and vilified at home and abroad; for the protection of our maritime citizens, impressed on board British ships of war and compelled to fight the battles of our enemies against ourselves; to vindicate our right to a free trade, an open a market for the productions of our soil, now perishing on our hands because the mistress of the ocean has forbid us to carry them to any foreign nation; in fine, to seek some indemnity for past injuries, some security against future aggressions, by the conquest of all the British dominions upon the continent of North America.

“Should the occupation of the canadas be resolved upon by the general government, how pleasing the prospect that would open the young volunteer, while performing a military promenade into a distant country…To view the stupendous works of nature, exemplified in the falls of Niagara…to tread the consecrated spot on which Wolfe and Montgomery fell, would of themselves repay the young soldier for a march across the continent.”

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