14 August 2006

Monday Quote Frenzy – Daniel Webster on the War of 1812

In the category of déjà vu all over again, we draw attention to the remarks of Daniel Webster, delivered in Congress in 1813, as the war began to turn sour.
Utterly astonished at the declaration of war, I have been surprised at nothing since. … Unless all history deceives me, I saw how it would be prosecuted when I saw how it was begun. There is in the nature of things and unchangeable relation between rash counsels and feeble execution.
(Annals of Congress, 13th Congress, 2nd session, pp. 943-944; as cited by Sean Wilentz, The Rise of American Democracy, p. 159)

Webster’s dissatisfaction arose in part from the realization that one of the major presumptions of the initial war effort – that the invasion of Canada would be assisted by a substantial number of anti-British Canadians, who would flock to support the American forces, greeting them as liberators – was mostly wishful thinking.


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