Wikiquote:Transwiki/American History Primary Sources The War of 1812


1811. “This war, if carried on successfully, will have its advantages. We shall drive the British from our continent. They will no longer have an opportunity of intriguing with our Indian neighbors.... [H]er means of annoying us will be diminished.” Rep. Felix Grundy of Tennessee, speech in Congress supporting war with Britain.

1812. “The militia of Kentucky are alone [able] to place Montreal and Upper Canada at your feet.” “War Hawk” Rep. Henry Clay of Kentucky, speech in Congress urging war with Britain.

1812. “We hear from the halls of Congress the cry ‘On to Canada!’ It is the fur dealer and the land speculator who want war, but it is we of New England who will pay the price.... The War Hawks of Tennessee and Kentucky are safe. I doubt if the English navy can reach them.” Nicolas Smyth, letter opposing war.

1813 “I very much doubt if a parallel can be found for the state of things existing on this frontier. A gallant little army struggling with the enemies of their country and devoting their lives to its honor and safety, left by that country to struggle alone.” Jacob Brown

1813 “Don’t give up the ship.” Motto on a pennant flown on USS Lawrence, flagship of Captain Oliver Hazard Perry in the naval Battle of Lake Erie.

1813 “We have met the enemy and they are ours.” Captain Oliver Hazard Perry, reporting his victory in the battle of Lake Erie to Gen. William Henry Harrison.

1814 “The administration asserts the right to fill the ranks of the regular army by compulsion.... Is this, sir, consistent with the character of a free government? Is this civil liberty? Is this the real character of our Constitution? No, sir, indeed it is not. The Constitution is libeled.” Rep. Daniel Webster, speech in House of Representatives.

1814. “I have had [a wagon] filled with ... the most valuable portable articles belonging to the house.... I insist on waiting until the large picture of General Washington is secured.... It is done! And the precious portrait placed in the hands of two gentlemen of New York, for safe keeping.” First Lady Dolley Madison, preparing to evacuate the White House before it was seized and burned by British troops attacking from their fleet in Chesapeake Bay.

1814. Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light

What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,

Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight

O’er the ramparts we watche’d were so gallantly streaming?

Francis Scott Key, words written after the failed overnight attack by the British Fleet on Fort McHenry, Baltimore.

1815 “Nothing was adjusted, nothing was settled.” John Quincy Adams, comment on the Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812.