Guide to the New Hampshire Political Speeches, 1812-1814
Collection number: MS 246
About the Elections of 1812 and 1814
During the elections of 1812 and 1814 feelings ran high in Federalist New England on
the subject of President James Madison’s imposition of an embargo on American
shipping and Congress’s declaration of war against Great Britain. The governors of
Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts refused to allow the federalization of
their state militias in order to fight outside their state borders. Many
Congressional politicians who voted for the war in June of 1812 were voted out of
office in the fall election. New Hampshire was no different in this respect,
replacing its delegation to Washington with members of the Federalist party, in
opposition to Madison’s Democratic Republicans.
About the New Hampshire Political Speeches
The two speeches, both undated and uncredited, one supporting and one opposing
President James Madison and the War of 1812, bear witness to the heatedness of the
debate in New Hampshire and document the campaign rhetoric then being used. The
first, written during the run-up to the November election of 1812, was undoubtedly
composed by a Federalist candidate. Its opening words directly address the pressing
issue of militias and he goes on to heap scorn on those who support the war: “But I
think my opponants [sic], words & action, will correspond very well with Mr.
Madisons [sic], all very fond of having the war carried on if some body else will do
all the fighting.” He continues later in the speech, “all who prefer peace to war,
prosperity to ruin, & constitutional freedom to a military despotism, will do
all they can to prevent the militia being cary’d out of their own state by
The second speech can be dated after August 24-25, 1814, when the British burned
Washington, D.C. It begins, “Awake my friends from this drowsy tone, that cries
peace, peace, when there shall be no peace.” The writer reminds his audience of
British aggression and the atrocities they have performed: “…takeing [sic] Americans
& hanging them up by the neck, & cutting them down & throwing their
bowels in their faces. ..&…[encouraging] the Ingens to kill us, by giving them a
large price for American scalps.” There is some indication, by his use of an
extended agricultural metaphor, that he may have been addressing a rural
The same anonymous hand transcribed both speeches with crude colloquial spelling;
they are clearly not copied verbatim from a newspaper or pamphlet. And because the
hand is hasty, it is possible that they were copied down on the actual occasion of
This collection is open.
Contents of this collection are governed by U.S. copyright law. For questions about publication or reproduction rights, contact Special Collections staff.
New Hampshire Political Speeches, 1812-1814, MS 246, Milne Special Collections
and Archives, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham, NH, USA.
Purchased: Ian Brabner, dealer, Wilmington, DE (Accession number: 2011.30)