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Why Madison Declared War

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Why Madison Declared War

by Sharon Myers

The year 2012 is the bicentennial of the War of 1812. This is the seventh in a series of columns that the Cuyahoga Falls News-Press is publishing featuring local veterans who served in the war.

There are several reasons why President Madison declared War in 1812: After the Revolutionary War, foreign warships frequently attacked American ships and forced the men to serve with a foreign military. More than 15,000 U.S. sailors were impressed to serve on British ships. Britain needed more sailors to man their ships during the Napoleonic Wars and they were also looking for deserters.

Britain introduced a series of trade restrictions to slow American trade with France while Britain was at war. We contested these restrictions. Britain also thought that we were a threat to their maritime supremacy. The American merchant marine doubled between 1802 and 1810. Britain was our largest trading partner, but they were resentful of our growing competition.

Indians claimed territory in the West and were becoming increasingly hostile to American settlers. Some joined the British Army hoping to force out settlers - others continued to attack the pioneers. The British supported the Indian attacks.

Great Britain wanted to limit our expansion.

We were also in a period of serious political conflict between the Federalist Party which favored a strong central government and closer ties to Britain and the Democratic-Republican Party which favored a weak central government, preservation of slavery, a break with Britain and expansion into Indian Territory.

1812 was the year that Napoleon marched to Moscow. The British viewed the conflict with America as an annoying sideshow. Britain relied on a maritime economic blockade to defeat France. The British didn't like the fact that they lost the American Colonies after the Revolutionary War.

Britain had no interest in fighting this war except to keep the U.S. from taking any part of Canada. By 1814 the American economy had collapsed due to the devastating economic blockade by Britain. The abdication of Napoleon in April 1814 gave the British the option of increasing their military effort to secure a victory.

Some of the veterans of the War of 1812 who are buried in Summit County fought in other states during the war and ended up in Ohio during the end of their lives.

One of these veterans is Captain Horace Herrick who is buried in Locust Grove Cemetery in Twinsburg. He was born May 24, 1796 in Norwich, Conn., and died March 20, 1894 of old age -- he was 98! He was captain at Pittsfield of a company that escorted Lafayette from Albany to Pittsfield when he visited this country in 1824. There were no railroads then, so he was taken from city to city in a coach with four horses and a cavalry escort. Captain Herrick was in the Connecticut Militia under Captain Freegift Tuthill during the War of 1812. He lived most of his life in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, but for the four years preceding his death, he lived in Twinsburg. He was said to be jovial and cheerful and beloved by all who knew him. He came from a family of eleven brothers and four sisters. He married Mary Noble and they had no children.

Israel Cannon is another veteran who was a minute man in the Massachusetts Militia during the War of 1812. He came to Ohio in 1833. He was a Justice of the Peace in Massachusetts. He was born May 2, 1786 in Massachusetts and died June 19, 1865. He married Lucinda Parks and they had seven children. He is also buried in Locust Grove Cemetery.

Col. John C. Hart was born in Cornwall, Conn. April 17, 1798. He moved to Genessee Co., N.Y. with his parents in 1802. He enlisted at the age of 14 in a company of cavalry at Rochester, N.Y. under Captain Stone and fought at Newark and Ft. George. He was at the burning of Buffalo and the Battle of Chippewa. He was at Black Rock as a bearer of dispatches when the British attacked Ft. Erie in 1814. Col. Hart obtained his military title by raising a regiment of cavalry at Middlebury under the old Militia law of the State of Ohio and of which he was commander at the time it disbanded. He came to Ohio in 1815. He married Margaret Sterling and Mary Sterling. He had six children. He died Aug. 20, 1880 and is buried in E. Akron Cemetery.

Josiah Arnold was born Oct. 13, 1796 in the Western part of Connecticut and moved to Sandlefield, Massachusetts in 1810 where he served an apprenticeship to the cooper's trade. He volunteered as a soldier to take the place of a friend who was drafted in 1814 and served until the close of the war under Captain J.S. Cotlin, Massachusetts Militia. He then moved to Lebanon, N.Y. in 1815 and took up residence in Copley in 1832. He married Phoebe Smith and they had three sons and five daughters. He was Justice of the Peace for 10 years. He died April 23, 1861 and is buried in Copley Cemetery.

Col. Milton Arthur was born 1794 in Massachusetts. He served in the Massachusetts Militia. He came to Ohio in 1820 and was Summit County's second elected treasurer. He is said to have been kind and obliging to family and friends. He was very prosperous. He died January 30, 1856 and is buried in Northfield Cemetery.

Contact Sharon Myers, President of the William Wetmore Chapter Daughters of 1812 at 330-794-5099. There will be a display on the War of 1812 beginning July 15 at the Stow-Munroe Falls Library.


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