Naval Anecdotes Relating to HMS Leopard Versus USS Chesapeake, 24 June 1807
Naval Anecdotes: An Extract of a Letter From a Gentleman on Board His Majesty’s Ship Leopard, Dated Chesapeake Bay, June 24, 1807.
WE arrived here on the 21st instant, and, agreeably to the orders of the Hon. Vice Admiral Berkeley, (in the event of meeting the United States frigate Chesapeake, to search her for deserters, of whom we had information,) the next morning the signal was made from Bellona to proceed to sea, which we did, at nine o’clock this morning; the Chesapeake was then passing the Bellona, about three miles within us – We stood to the S.E. with the wind at S.W. until eleven, when it shifted to E. which retarded the progress of the frigate, being obliged to beat out. – We kept on a wind, under easy sail, until she got within two miles of us, when she shortened sail, and we bore down on her; we were about twelve or fourteen miles from the land; when sufficiently close, the Captain hailed, and said he had dispatches from the British commander in chief – the answer was “Send them on board, I shall heave to,” which he did accordingly. An officer was sent on board with the admiral’s order, and a letter from Captain Humphreys, saying, he hoped to be able to execute the admiral’s order in the most amicable manner; and after the commodore read the order and the letter, he told him that his orders from his government were most peremptory in not suffering any foreigner to muster his ship’s company, but that he would write an answer to Captain Humphrey’s letter, if he would be the bearer of it to him. After having answered in the affirmative, he wrote, saying that he had no deserters, and that his instructions prevented his allowing the Chesapeake to be searched – He returned with this answer, after being on board forty minutes. – As the admiral’s order was positive, there was no alternative but force – so we edged down to her, and Captain Humphreys hailed, and said, that Commodore Barron must be aware that the order of the British commander in chief must be obeyed. The only reply made to this (which we thrice repeated) was, “I do not understand what you say.” – Now, as we were to windward, and heard distinctly his answers, it is evident he also must have heard what Captain Humphreys said. Orders were then given to fire a shot across her bows from the lower deck; after a minute another, and in two more, no satisfactory answer being given, Captain Humphreys ordered the fire to opened upon her, beginning with the foremost gun, and in succession after; but as the order was not perfectly understood, a broadside was poured into her; Commodore Barron then hailed when orders were given to cease firing, but as he said he was only going to send a boat on board, and as they were preparing to return the fire, it was supposed to be an artifice to gain time, and orders were again given to fire – two broadsides were the result, when she struck. Two lieutenants, with several midshipmen, went on board the Chesapeake to search for deserters, and after being there three hours, returned with four, three belonging to the Melampus, and one to the Halifax; the latter is the fellow who abused Lord J. Townshend at Norfolk. Commodore Barron wrote to Captain Humphreys, saying, that he considered the Chesapeake his prize, and that he was ready to deliver her up to any person authorized to receive her. Captain Humphreys replied, that as he executed the orders of the commander in chief he had nothing more to do with her; that he must forthwith join the rest of the squadron, and that he not only lamented, most sincerely, the necessity that compelled him to violent measures, but that if he could render the Chesapeake any service, he would cheerfully do it. In short, Captain Humphreys has conducted himself throughout the whole of this unpleasant transaction, in the most praise-worthy manner, as an officer and gentleman. He has more humanity in his composition than most mankind; you may then suppose his feelings were none the comfortable on this occasion. The Chesapeake returned but a few shot; they were scarcely prepared when we began, and were thrown into such confusion that the greatest part of the people deserted their quarters.
The number of men killed on board the Chesapeake, according to their own statement, was six, and 23 wounded.
Twenty-six shot went through the hull, seven between wind and water; the sails were completely riddled, and I have not a doubt, but that in ten minutes more she would have gone down; the sea being so smooth every shot told after the first broadside, which was chiefly at the rigging.
Commodore Barron was slightly wounded in the leg by a splinter – he behaved in the coolest way imaginable, and stood in the open gang-way the greater part of the time.
Admiral Berkley's Orders
By the honourable GEORGE CRANFIELD BERKELEY, Vice Admiral of the White, and Commander in Chief of His Majesty’s ships and Vessels employed in the River St. Lawrence, along the coast of Nova Scotia, the Islands of St. John, and Cape Breton, the Bay of -, and at and about the Island of Bermuda or Summer Islands.
"WHEREAS many seamen, subjects of his Britannic Majesty, and serving in his Ships and Vessels, as per margin, while at anchor in the Chesapeake, deserted and entered on board the United States frigate, called the Chesapeake, and openly paraded the streets of Norfolk, in sight of their officers, under the American Flag, protected by the magistrates of the town and the recruiting officer belonging to the above mentioned American frigate, which magistrates and naval officer refused giving them up, although demanded by his Britannic Majesty’s consul, as well as the captains of the ships from which the said men had deserted.
"The captains and commanders of his Majesty’s ships and vessels under my command are hereby required and directed, in case of meeting with the American frigate the Chesapeake at sea, and without the limits of the United States, to show to the captain of her this order, and to require to search his ship for the deserters from the before-mentioned ships, and to proceed and search for the same; and if a similar demand should be made by the American, he is to be permitted to search for any deserters from their service, according to the customs and usage of civilized nations, on terms of peace and amity with each other.
"Given under my hand at Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1st June, 1807."
To the respective Captains and Commanders
of his Majesty’s Ships and Vessels on the
North American Station.
New York Meeting.
At a general meeting of the citizens of New York, held in the Park, on Thursday, July 2, 1807, the Hon. DEWITT CLINTON was unanimously called to the Chair, and General JACOB MORTON was unanimously appointed Secretary to the Meeting.
HAVING received, with the most lively indignation, authentic information that on the 22d ult. an attack, unwarranted by the known usages of nations, and in violation of our national rights, was made off the Capes of Virginia, on the United States frigate Chesapeake, Commodore Barron, by his Britannic Majesty’s armed ship the Leopard, Captain Humphreys, the citizens of New York, assembled in general meeting, deem it their duty to express their opinions on this fresh outrage offered to their national sovereignty by the navy of Great Britain.
"Resolved, That it is, and has been the policy of our government, and the wish, because it is the interest of our citizens, to be at peace with all the world."
"Resolved, That although we cherish peace with the greatest sincerity, yet that we hold ourselves ready, at the call of our government, to resist all infringements of our national rights, and violation of our national honour."
"Resolved, That we consider the dastardly and unprovoked attack made on the United States armed ship Chesapeake, by his Britannic Majesty’s ship Leopard, to be a violation of our national rights, as atrocious as it is unprecedented."
"Resolved, That we are determined to maintain the rights and dignity of our country with our lives and fortunes, and that we will support our government in whatever measures it may deem necessary to adopt, in the present crisis of affairs."
"Resolved, That whatever differences of opinion may exist among us on our merely local concerns, yet that we love our country, and will cordially unite in resisting the attempts of any nation to invade our rights, or tarnish our national honour."
"Resolved, That we highly approve the spirited and patriotic conduct of our fellow-citizens at Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Hampton."
"Resolved, That we deeply lament the death of those of our fellow-citizens who fell, and sincerely sympathize with those who were wounded on board the Chesapeake."
"DEWITT CLINTON, Chairman."
"JACOB MORTEN, Secretary."
By Thomas Jefferson, President Of The United States Of America.
DURING the wars which, for some time, have unhappily prevailed among the powers of Europe, the United States of America, firm in their principals of peace, have endeavoured by justice, by a regular discharge of all their national and social duties, and by every friendly office their situation has admitted, to maintain, with all the belligerents, their accustomed relations of friendship, hospitality, and commercial intercourse. Taking no part in the questions which animate these powers against each other, nor permitting themselves to entertain a wish but for the general restoration of peace, they have observed, with good faith, the neutrality they assumed, and they believe that no instance of a departure from its duties can be justly imputed to them by any nation. A free use of their harbors and waters, the means of refitting and refreshment, of succour to their sick and suffering, have, at all times, and on equal principals, have been extended to all, and this too amidst a constant recurrence of acts of insubordination to the laws, of violence to the persons, and of trespasses on the property of our citizens, committed by officers of one of the belligerent parties received among us. In truth these abuses of the laws of hospitality have, with few exceptions, become habitual to the commanders of the British armed vessels hovering on our coasts and frequenting our harbours. They have been the subject of repeated representations to their government. Assurances have been given that proper orders should restrain them within the limit of the rights and of the respect due to a friendly nation; but those orders and assurances have been without effect; and no instance of punishment for past wrongs has taken place. At length, a deed, transcending all we have heretofore seen, or suffered, brings the public sensibility to a serious crisis, and our forbearance to a necessary pause. A frigate of the United States trusting to a state of peace and leaving her harbour on a distant service, has been surprised and attacked by a British vessel of superior force, one of a squadron then lying in our waters and covering the transaction, and has been disabled from service, with the loss of a number of men killed and wounded.
This enormity was not only without provocation or justifiable cause, but was committed with the avowed purpose of taking by force, from a ship of war of the United States, a part of her crew, and that no circumstance might be wanting to mark its character, it had previously ascertained that seamen demanded were natives of the United States. Having effected his purpose, he returned to anchor with his squadron within our jurisdiction. Hospitality, under such circumstances, ceases to be a duty; and a continuance of it, with such uncontrolled abuses, would tend only, by multiplying injuries and irritations, to bring on a rupture between the two nations. This extreme resort is equally opposed by the interests of both, as it is to assurances of the most friendly dispositions on the part of the British government, in the midst of which this outrage has been committed. In this light the subject cannot but present itself to that government, and strengthen the motives to an honorable reparation of the wrong which has been done, and to that effectual control of its naval commanders, which alone can justify the government of the United States in the exercise of those hospitalities it is now constrained to discontinue.
In consideration of those circumstances, and of the right fo every nation to regulate its own police, to provide for its peace and for the safety of its citizens, and consequently to refuse the admission of armed vessels into its harbours and waters, either in such numbers, or of such description, as are inconsistent with these, or with the maintenance of the authority of the laws, I have thought proper in pursuance of the authorities specially given by law, to issue this my PROCLAMATION, hereby requiring all armed vessels bearing commissions under the government of Great Britain, now within the harbours and waters of the United States, immediately and without delay to depart from the same, and interdicting the entrance of all said harbours and waters to the said armed vessels, and to all others bearing commissions under the authority of the British government.
And if the said vessels or any of them, shall fail to depart as aforesaid, or they or any others so interdicted, shall hereafter enter the harbours or waters beforesaid, I do in that case forbid all intercourse with them or any of them, their officers or crews, and do prohibit all supplies and aid from being furnished to them or any of them.
And I do declare and make known, that if any person from, or within the jurisdictional limits of the United States, shall afford any aid to any such vessel, contrary to the prohibition contained in this proclamation, either in repairing any such vessel or in furnishing her, her officers and crew, with supplies of any kind, in any manner whatsoever, or if any pilot shall assist in navigating any the said armed vessels, unless it be for the purpose of carrying them, in the first instance, beyond the limits and jurisdiction of the United States, or unless it be in the case of a vessel forced by distress, or charged with public dispatches, as hereinafter provided for, such person or persons shall, on conviction, suffer all the pains and penalties by the laws provided for in such offenses.
And I do hereby enjoin and require all persons bearing office, civil or military, within or under the authority of the United States, and all others, citizens or inhabitants thereof, with vigilance and promptitude to exert their respective authorities, and to be aiding and assisting to the carrying of this proclamation, and every part thereof, into full effect.
Provided, nevertheless, that if such vessels shall be forced into the harbours or waters of the United States, by distress, by the dangers of the seas, or by the pursuit of an enemy, or shall enter them charged with dispatches or business from their government, or shall be a public packet for the conveyance of letters and dispatches, the commanding officer immediately reporting his vessel to the collector of the district, stating the object, or causes of entering the said harbours or waters, and conforming himself to the regulations in that case proscribed under the authority of the laws, shall be allowed the benefit of such regulations respecting repairs, supplies, stay, intercourse, and departure, as shall be permitted under the same authority.
In testimony whereof, I have caused the seal of the United States to be affixed to these presents and signed the same.
Given at the city of Washington, the second day of June, in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and seven, and of the sovereignty and independence of the United States the thirty first.
By the President,
JAMES MADISON, Secretary of State.
Correspondence Between Captain Douglas, of His Majesty's Ship Bellona,
and the Mayor of Norfolk in
"His Majesty’s ship Bellona, Hampton Roads,
July 3, 1807."
"I beg leave to represent to you, that having observed in the newspapers a resolution, made by a committee on the 29th ult. prohibiting any communication between his Britannic Majesty’s consul at Norfolk, and his ships lying at anchor in Lynhaven Bay, and this being a measure extremely hostile, not only in depriving the British consul from discharging the duties of his office, but at the same time preventing me from obtaining that information so absolutely necessary for His Majesty’s service, I am therefore determined, if this infringement is not immediately annulled, to prohibit every vessel, bound either in or out of Norfolk, to proceed to their destination, until I know the pleasure of my government, or the commander in chief on this station. You must be perfectly aware, that the British flag never has, nor will ever be insulted with impunity. You must also be aware, that it has been, and still in my power, to obstruct the whole trade of the Chesapeake, since the late circumstance, which I desisted from, trusting that general unanimity would be restored. Respecting the circumstance of the deserters, lately apprehended from the United States frigate Chesapeake, that, in my opinion, must be decided between the two governments alone. It therefore rests with the inhabitants of Norfolk either to engage in war or remain on terms of peace."
"Agreeably to my intentions, I have proceeded to Hampton Roads, with the squadron under my command, to await your answer, which I trust you will favour me without delay."
"I have the honour to be, Sir,
"Your obedient humble servant,"
"To Richard Lee, Esq. Mayor of
"P.S. I enclose you two letters, directed to the British consul at Norfolk, which you will be pleased to forward him."
The mayor convened the recorder and aldermen, when the following answer was agreed on, and ordered to be sent: -
"Norfolk, July 4, 1807."
"I have received your menacing letter of yesterday. The day on which this answer is written, ought of itself to prove to the subjects of your sovereign, that the American people are not to be intimidated by menace, or induced to adopt any measures, except by a sense of their perfect propriety. Seduced by the false show of security, they may be sometimes surprised and slaughtered, while unprepared to resist a supposed friend: that elusive security is now, however, passed forever. The late occurrence has taught us to confide our safety no longer to any thing but our own force. We do not seek hostility, nor shall we avoid it. We are prepared for the worst you may attempt, and will do whatever shall be judged proper to repel force, whensoever your efforts shall render any act of ours necessary. Thus much for the threats of your letter, which can be considered in no other light than as addressed to the supposed fears of our citizens."
"In answer to any part of it, which is particularly addressed to me, as the first judicial officer of this borough, I have but to say, that you must be aware, that the judiciary of no country possesses any other powers than those conferred upon it by the law."
"The same channel through which you have derived the intelligence stated by yourself, must have also announced to you, that the act of which you complain is an act of individuals, and not of the government. If this act be wrong and illegal, the judiciary of this country, whenever the case is properly brought before it, will take care to do its duty. At present it hath no judicial information of any outrage on the laws, and therefore will not act."
"If you, Sir, please to consider this act of individuals as a measure 'extremely hostile,' and shall commence hostility without waiting the decision of our two governments, although you yourself acknowledge that it properly belongs to them alone to decide, the inhabitants of Norfolk will conform to your example, and protect themselves against any lawless aggression which may be made upon their persons or property; they therefore leave it with you, either to engage in war, or to remain on terms of peace until the pleasure of our respective governments shall be known."
"Your letters, directed to the British consul of this place, have been forwarded to him."
"I have the honour to be, Sir,
"Your most obedient servant,
"RICHARD E. LEE, Mayor."
"To John E. Douglas, Esq. Commanding
his Britannic Majesty’s ships in Hampton Roads."
The bearer of the above letter, made the following report to the Mayor of Norfolk, respecting the interview which he had with Captain Douglas:-
"Norfolk, July 5, 1807."
"In pursuance of your request, I this day went down to the British squadron, lying in Hampton Roads, for the purpose of delivering the letter with which I was charged to Captain Douglas. On arriving along-side his ship the Bellona, I was invited on board, and received by Captain Douglas himself at the gang-way, and conducted to his cabin, where I found assembled all the captains of the squadron. I immediately informed him, that you had yesterday received a letter from him, the answer to which I had been requested to deliver, and placed it in his hand. He read the letter very attentively, and then handed it to Captain Hardy, from whom it passed to the other captains in succession. When they had all perused it, Captain Douglas observed to me, 'I presume Sir, you are acquainted with the contents of this letter.' I told him I was perfectly so. He then stated that his letter must have been misapprehended, that it contained no expression of menace which he recollected, and that certainly it was not his intention to use language which could be construed to convey such ideas. He referred to Captain Hardy, saying, that he had shown him the letter previously to it being sent, and had requested his opinion as to its sentiments. Captain Hardy concurred with Captain Douglas in the opinion and objects of the communication. I then remarked to them the particular expressions in the letter, which I considered as the language of threat, and adverted to the circumstance of the words 'immediately annulled,' being underscored. He said, that this underscoring must have been done by his clerk, without his direction, and had escaped his observation; but again assured me, upon his honour, that if any expression in the letter wore the appearance of a threat, it was not to be so understood."
"Captain Douglas next adverted to the conclusion of the letter, in which the alternative of peace and war is left to himself. He said upon this subject, that he had no orders to commit any act of hostility, and there was no man from whose intention or wishes such an object was more remote; that he was anxious to preserve the relations of amity which had existed between the two governments, and that no act of his should tend to interrupt their harmony, unless he was ordered by his superiors to perform such acts, in which case, as an officer, he must do his duty. He repeated, however, that he had no such orders, nor did he expect to receive such. He stated, that he had it in his charge generally, to guard his flag, and those under its protection, from insult or assault of any kind, and that this in all situations he must unquestionably do; but that any further measure he was not at present authorized, nor was it his intention to take. I here stated to him that the many insulting menaces which had been communicated in Norfolk, as coming from him. He positively denied ever having uttered such; declared, if they had been used by any of his officers, that they were unauthorized, and disapproved of by him, remarking, at the same time, that he hoped all who knew him, would do him the justice to believe, that he was not in the habit of using the language of threat. He here too again referred to all the officers to say, if they had ever heard him at any time, even while speaking confidentially to them, utter such expressions; and they united in declaring that they had not."
"A desultory conversation then took place between Captain Douglas, the other captains and myself, which continued nearly an hour, in the course of which many remarks were made, which had no reference to the subject of your letter, or were in any way connected with it. These, Sir, I have already communicated to yourself, and to all my fellow citizens, with whom I have conversed upon this subject; but as they are not connected with the subject of your letter, I presume it would be unnecessary again to detail them here. In the course of this conversation, I described to them, as well as I am able, the sentiment which universally prevailed through the country at this time, the cause from which it proceeded, and the effects it would produce, provided any efforts on their part should be made to oppose the public resolves, as to intercourse or supplies. I explicitly declared, that we had as yet received no authority from our government to proceed to acts of aggression, but that we were authorized, and were prepared for defence, and for the protection of ourselves and property; to prove which, I placed in the hands of Captain Douglas, an extract from the letter of Governor Cable, to Brigadier General Mathews, which I had made for that purpose. I concluded by warning him again not to send any of his officers or people on shore; for that if he did, the arms of the civil authority, I did not believe, would be able to protect them from the vengeance of an enraged people; that this might lead to consequences which might possibly yet be averted; and if he was sincere in the sentiments he had expressed, he would be anxious to prevent such results. Captain Douglas, and all the captains, declared, that they were aware of the present state of the public feelings, and deplored the circumstances which had excited it; that they did not intend to expose any of their people to the resentment of ours, which they could conceive was highly inflamed; that as to supplies they did not want any at present, but when they did, they should not attempt to procure them in any way which would excite the opposition of the citizens of this country."
"Upon the subject of intercourse, he did not expect to hold any with the people of this country, nor was there any occasion for it. He only wished to be permitted freely to communicate with the accredited officer of his government here, who had been formally received and recognized by our executive, and whose functions he presumed none but the government had a right to put down. As to the particular manner in which this communication might be carried on, it was a matter quite indifferent to him. He had no objection to that being regulated by ourselves, in any way which is judged proper, and that he would certainly pursue the mode which might be suggested as most agreeable to us, provided the channel of communication was kept free and open. To this I stated, that I had no authority from any person to enter into any engagement with him; but that as an individual I would state, that the letters he had forwarded under cover to you had been safely delivered, and that therefore, I presumed any other dispatches of a like kind would be treated in the same way. But upon this subject, I could only refer him to you and your associates for information. He then stated that he would to-day write an answer to your letter, which he would forward as before, and I left his ship, Captain Douglas again repeating the substance of what I have already stated."
"From the moment I approached the Bellona, to that on which I left her, my treatment from Captain Douglas, and all his officers, was marked by as much attention, politeness, and respect, as any gentleman ever received from others. My particular friend Mr. James Taylor, jun. Accompanied me on board the British ship, for reasons that will at once suggest themselves to you, when you remember the delicate and embarrassing situation in which I might be placed. He remained on board the whole time with me, and was a witness to everything which passed. I have read to him this communication, Sir, in order to ascertain if my recollection was correct, and he accords with me in every statement here made."
"I have forwarded a copy of this letter to the governor of Virginia, and to the Federal Executive, believing that at this time it is the duty of every citizen to keep his government well informed of everything which may be useful."
"I am respectfully, Sir,
"Your most obedient servant,
"To Richard E. Lee, Esq. Mayor
of the Borough of Norfolk."
The subjoined letter from Captain Douglas, is in reply to the Mayor of Norfolk’s communication of July the 4th:-
"His Majesty’s ship Bellona, Hampton Roads,
the 6th of July, 1807."
"I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 4th instant, in answer to mine of the preceding day, requesting that the British Consul might be restored to his powers."
"As every circumstance relative to the above communication was so fully discussed in presence of the gentlemen deputed by the Magistracy of Norfolk, as bearers of your dispatch, I have only in addition to remark, that as far as I am individually concerned, every exertion shall be used that can, consistent with the honour and dignity of the British flag, tend to an amicable termination."
"I have the honour to be, Sir,"
"Your obedient humble servant,"
"To Richard E. Lee, Esq. Mayor of the
Borough of Norfolk, Virginia."
Statement of the American Navy.
Estimate of the number of persons composing the crews of the navy of the United States.
Cobbett's Strictures on the Difference with America.
THE late search of the American frigate Chesapeake, by his Majesty’s ship Leopard, has called forth numerous animadversions in our daily and weekly prints; but none of them we think is so deserving as the following, from the pen of Mr. Cobbett. That gentleman resided several years in America; is known to possess an intimate knowledge of the manners, dispositions, political opinions, &c. of the inhabitants of that country; and consequently, his sentiments must be of some weight on the subject. They accord too, with the opinions of other well informed persons.
"The ministers have said, in the House of Commons, that they are not fully informed upon the subject of the late naval squabble about our searching for deserters in American vessels of war; and I was very sorry to hear Mr. Perceval say what seemed to indicate a decided disposition to yield. If they do yield, if they follow the advice of a morning paper, (which, for years, seems to have a general retainer from the Americans) our navy will not be long lived. Mind, I do not pretend to say, that we may not, in this instance, have been in the wrong; because there is nothing to authentic upon the subject; nor am I prepared to say, that our right of search, in all cases, extends to ships of war; but of this I am certain, the laws of nations do not allow you to search for deserters in a friend’s territory, neither do they allow that friend to inveigle away your troops or seamen, to do which is an act of hostility, and I ask for no better proof of inveigling, than the enlisting and the refusing to give up such troops or seamen. – The American statement I do not believe; and, were there no other witnesses, I would not believe it upon the oaths of all their sea captains put together. The fault of our officers upon that station has been excessive forbearance. We have suffered greatly from our tameness towards those states. Our commanders (with some few exceptions) have discovered the feelings of traders to America. The insults and injuries they have endured were disgraceful. - The Americans are like the worst sort of women: they will set up a terrible outcry. They will beat Admiral Berkeley in lungs; but, if we keep a firm foot, they will soon listen to reason. – Poor Captain Barron and his frigate! I dare say, that this swaggering blade (who is doubtless, dubbed Commodore) has a thousand times said, that he wished for such an opportunity as this. I can form a very accurate conception of the rage of the people at Norfolk, and of the noisy town-meeting; and their burning of the water casks of the Melampus is perfectly in character, putting one in mind of savages, who used to destroy the boat tackling of Captain Cook, and to murder his straggling mariners, when one of their queens or princesses had been induced (without much importunity) to commit a faux pas with some one or other of the crew. As to poor Commodore Barron, I should not wonder if they were to eat him alive. Their rage must be beyond all bounds, and if, in their manner of expressing it, they should appear to be very nice, all I can say is, they are greatly reformed. The morning paper I have alluded to, seems to anticipate an iliad (sic) of woes from a war with the American States. I though I had proved it to its editor, that the country could not go to war with us, without producing its own destruction as a political body. If necessary, I will prove it to him again. But I would not, because I am morally certain of this, commit an act of injustice towards America. I would only demand and insist upon the rights of England; and above all other things, I would insist upon it, that America should not be permitted to destroy the British navy. – We are not, observe, to judge of the feelings of the people of America, properly so called, by what we read in their newspapers, any more than we are to judge the feelings of the people of England by what we read from the London daily press. Nor is the conduct of the rum-soused rabble at Norfolk any criterion. More than one half of the people of America are disgusted at the base partiality which is shown to our enemies; and, though the other part is by far the most noisy, I venture to predict, that, when time has been taken to cool men’s minds, the voice of our friends, and the friends of justice will prevail. They will not go to war with us without justifiable cause; without some act of clear injustice on our part, their government will not venture upon such a measure; and as I am pretty certain that our fault will be on that side, I conjure the ministers to remain firm. – In all disputes with America, there is a set of persons among us who are always ready to presume against ourselves. This is intolerable, and that, too, while our presumption is exactly the contrary with respect to disputes between us and every other feeble power. The reason is, that there are so many persons here who have property in the American funds; that there are so many partners in American mercantile houses, as they are called; and that there are so many opulent manufacturers, who keep thousands of English wretches to "work and weep," for their own profit, and that of the Americans: this is the principal reason of a partiality so unnatural, and so disgraceful to our character. – "Peace, peace," says Mr. Whitehead. Aye, peace as soon as possible; but if you mean submission, I am for putting it off to the last moment. I am far, God knows my heart, from relishing submission at home; but let my country hold up her head at any rate. – In dismissing this subject for the present, I beg leave just to add, that if we permit the Americans to inveigle and detain our seamen, we cannot have a navy. The Americans, will, in fact, recruit for France, and England will be beaten by our own seamen."
Source: The Naval Chronicle for 1807: Containing a General and Biographical History of the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom; With a Variety of Original Papers on Nautical Subjects: Under the Guidance of Several Literary and Professional Men, Vol. 18, July-December 1807 (London: Printed and Published by and for Joyce Gold, Shoe-Lane), pp. 116-130.