The WAR OF 1812 left the United States financially strapped. The nation
had gone to war without a financial strategy. At the time, the federal
government’s revenue largely came from customs duties and land sales but war
meant that these sources would dwindle. The government had to rely on state
banks and wealthy individuals as the basis for its loans. The war was not
popular in Rhode Island and the state’s congressional delegation voted against
it. The state expected to bear the
brunt. At one point, the state
considered seceding from the Union. Governor
Jones originally balked at sending troops but relented and sent the required
500 men for federal service. News of
peace reached Providence in February 12, 1815.
We’re offering the state’s legislative record, dated October 1815, the year the war ended with a narrative that describes the state’s financial condition following the war but looking forward to vibrant commerce resulting from the treaty with Britain restoring Rhode Island and other states to unmolested travel on the high seas.
Bound with string, this 8 ¼ x 13 ½, 43 pp, is signed by SAMUEL EDDY (March 31, 1769-February 3, 1839) as Secretary of State on the last page as Rhode Island’s Secretary of State. Eddy was also elected several times to Congress and served as Associated and Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court.
The record of legislative proceedings also lists the representatives of the various towns, but, by far, the most important part is the strong historical narrative on the state’s military position, including payments made as a result of the War of 1812.
In small part, “…Agreeably to the repeated assurances received from the head of the [U.S.] War Department, I had reason to expect an immediate reimbursement for all our advances for that service [in the war]…I have been disappointed and the causes of the delay will be understood by referring to the accompanying letter from Robert Brent to whom the papers were referred.
“The arsenal which the General Assembly, directed to be built, has been erected in Providence and…the arms and military stores are principally collected and deposited…The acts of the General Assembly…have not been carried into complete effect. I would…recommend enquiry into the causes of their failures…
“We may hope for a further extension of trade and more permanent and uninterrupted tranquility from the operation of the treaty of commerce and navigation…entered into by the Ministers of this country and Great Britain [Treaty of Ghent]…
“I have also the satisfaction of congratulating you on the probable termination of the injustice and hostility of one of the principle Barbary powers [Britain], by a treaty imposed on the enemy by the good conduct and valour of our navy, and terminating in a few months a war, which on our part was a war of necessary and defense…
“The heavy debt which during a few years has been accumulated by the United States will continue to press heavily on our constituents and requires rigid economy and a wise administration of the public finances. The severe taxation which this debt occasions added to the depreciation of the paper mediums of the Southern and Middle States is a discouragement to our manufacturers and coasting trade…We must reconcile ourselves to their endurance and hope for a remedy from the wisdom of Congress or from…those principles of industry and economy, which in a country of resources like ours will…produce competency and even wealth…
The report goes on to list revenue expenses, including the amount paid by the governor and the Council on War and petitions for payments made by state residents. The report also includes acts by the General Assembly regarding soldiers’ penalties for being delinquent and the re-establishment of officer commissions; an act relative to the passing of horses and carriages, freeing a mentally deranged man who burned down a barn and much more.
Toning and some soiling with edge chips. Overall very strong and readable with generally clean pages. A wonderful piece of War of 1812 and Rhode Island Americana.
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