Friday, October 5, 2012

A Scottish Nobleman and the War of 1812

My Highland Love is set in 1825, at the very end of the Georgian era.

The hero, Marcus MacGregor, clan leader and Marquess of Ashlund, was a product of the Napoleonic wars, but he also saw one campaign in America as a part of the War of 1812. At this point in our hero’s life, he was twenty-five years old. Though the book doesn’t really go into this time in his life, I tried to show how Marcus was a product of this experience. Of course, I did far more research than went into the book—that’s half the fun! I am ashamed to admit how little I knew of the War of 1812, a war that was considered to be the second war of independence.

Several elements are considered to be reasons behind the war. For a quick overview, Wikipedia names a few:
Honor and the second war of independence
Trade with France
British support for Indian raids
American expansionism
US political conflict

I wasn't surprised by these reasons--except for one: British support for Indian raids. Here's a snippet from Wikipedia. 

The Northwest Territory, comprising the modern states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, had been an area of dispute between the Indian Nations and the United States since the passage of the Northwest Ordinance in 1787. The British Empire had ceded the area to the United States in the Treaty of Paris in 1783. The Indian Nations followed Tenskwatawa, the Shawnee Prophet and the brother of Tecumseh. Tenskwatawa had a vision of purifying his society by expelling the "children of the Evil Spirit": the American settlers. Tenskwatawa and Tecumseh formed a confederation of numerous tribes to block American expansion. The British saw the Indian nations as valuable allies and a buffer to its Canadian colonies, and provided arms. Attacks on American settlers in the Northwest further aggravated tensions between Britain and the United States. The Confederation's raids hindered American expansion into rich farmlands in the Northwest Territory.

The British had the long-standing goal of creating a large "neutral" Indian state that would cover much of Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan. They made the demand as late as the fall of 1814 at the peace.

It might be interesting to note that the Northwest Oridinance in 1787 came with the prohibition of slavery in the territory, which had the practical effect of establishing the Ohio River as the boundary between free and slave territory in the region between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River. One might pose the question as to how the American government dealt with the issue of ensuring the abominable practice of slavery was outlawed in these territories, while the oridnance was expanding into territory already occupied by the native people. That's a question that intrigues me.

Now, back to the War of 1812. It seems this war could have been averted, but communication was slow in the early nineteenth century--no twitter!

On June 1, 1812, President James Madison sent a message to the Congress recounting American grievances against Great Britain, though not specifically calling for a declaration of war. After Madison's message, the House of Representatives deliberated for four days behind closed doors before voting 79 to 49 (61% in favor) the first declaration of war, and the Senate agreed by 19 to 13 (59% in favor). The conflict began formally on June 18, 1812, when Madison signed the measure into law. This was the first time that the United States had declared war on another nation, and the Congressional vote would prove to be the closest vote to formally declare war in American history. (The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 1991, while not a formal declaration of war, was a closer vote.) None of the 39 Federalists in Congress voted in favor of the war; critics of war subsequently referred to it as "Mr. Madison's War".

Meanwhile in London on May 11, an assassin killed Prime Minister Spencer Perceval, which resulted in Lord Liverpool coming to power. Liverpool wanted a more practical relationship with the United States. He issued a repeal of the Orders in Council, but the United States was unaware of this, as it took three weeks for the news to cross the Atlantic. In response to the US declaration of war, Isaac Brock issued a proclamation alerting the citizenry in Upper Canada of the state of war and urging all military personnel "to be vigilant in the discharge of their duty" to prevent communication with the enemy and to arrest anyone suspected of helping the Americans

The War of 1812 was short compared to, say, the Civil War--thank heavens for small favors! And certainly, the cost in lives was far less than that of the Civil War, but was no small matter. The war emcompassed the area from what was then called Upper and Lower Canada, which was territory north of the Great Lakes, up to Maine, then down to Virginia and west to Illinois. The details are too great to go into for a short post like this, but take a look at the losses and compensations for an idea of the complexity of this war.

British losses in the war were about 1,600 killed in action and 3,679 wounded; 3,321 British died from disease. American losses were 2,260 killed in action and 4,505 wounded. While the number of Americans who died from disease is not known, it is estimated that about 15,000 died from all causes directly related to the war.These figures do not include deaths among Canadian militia forces or losses among native tribes.

There have been no estimates of the cost of the American war to Britain, but it did add some £25 million to the national debt. In the U.S., the cost was $105 million, about the same as the cost to Britain. The national debt rose from $45 million in 1812 to $127 million by the end of 1815, although by selling bonds and treasury notes at deep discounts—and often for irredeemable paper money due to the suspension of specie payment in 1814—the government received only $34 million worth of specie.

In addition, at least 3,000 American slaves escaped to the British because of their offer of freedom, the same as they had made in the American Revolution. Many other slaves simply escaped in the chaos of war and achieved their freedom on their own. The British settled some of the newly freed slaves in Nova Scotia. Four hundred freedmen were settled in New Brunswick. The Americans protested that Britain's failure to return the slaves violated the Treaty of Ghent. After arbitration by the Tsar of Russia the British paid $1,204,960 in damages to Washington, which reimbursed the slaveowners.

On a personal note, I find it interesting that it was slave owners who were reimbursed for their losses. War is a funny business.

How does a woman tell her betrothed she murdered her first husband?

Elise Kingston is a wanted woman. Nothing, not even Highlander Marcus MacGregor, will stop her from returning home to ensure that the man responsible for her daughter's death hangs.

Until she must choose between his life and her revenge.

My Highland Love is now available from Silver Publishing and Amazon

I'm giving away a couple of copies of My Highland Love at Close Encounters with the Night Kind.
Stop by for a chance to win.

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