James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Joseph H. Nicholson, 22 May 1812 (Abstract)

§ From Joseph H. Nicholson

22 May 1812, Baltimore. Transmits “certain Resolutions1 of the Democratic Citizens of Baltimore and its Precincts, represented by their Delegates in general Committee” on 21 May. Takes pleasure in making this communication and has “no Doubt that these Resolutions express the feelings and opinions of the great Body of the People, not only in Baltimore, ⟨bu⟩t through the State.”

RC (DLC). 1 p. Docketed by JM. Torn at fold. Enclosure not found, but see n. 1.

1Nicholson evidently enclosed a copy of six resolutions that were published in the National Intelligencer on 26 May 1812 (also printed in J. Thomas Scharf, The Chronicles of Baltimore [Baltimore, 1874], pp. 308–9). The resolutions were drawn up at a meeting of party delegates at the Fountain Inn on 21 May for the purpose of “taking into consideration the present situation of our public affairs.” They were subsequently adopted by “a numerous meeting of democratic citizens” in Baltimore on 23 May.

The first resolution condemned the conduct of Great Britain toward the U.S. for some years past as evincing “nothing but the most determined hostility to our national rights” and complained specifically of impressment, obstruction of commerce, the murder of citizens within U.S. waters, and “one attempt at least to dissolve the Union of these states.” The second resolution declared that the U.S. government had “manifested the strongest desire” for peace and harmony with all nations, both by pursuing “equal and exact justice” to all and by proposing “honorable and conciliatory” terms to settle any differences that had arisen. The third resolution proclaimed that Great Britain’s refusal of all terms left the U.S. with no choice between “war and degredation” and that since freemen could not hesitate to choose war, the delegates pledged themselves to support the government “at every hazard.” The fourth resolution condemned the conduct of France and its allies as “scarcely less atrocious than that of England” and stated that if negotiations pending with France failed to adjust outstanding differences, the U.S. government would commence “the most active hostilities” to uphold U.S. rights, with the proviso that Russia and Sweden be exempted from that policy.

The fifth resolution required that the chairman, Joseph H. Nicholson, and the forty-nine other delegates present sign the above four resolutions and transmit them to the president. The sixth resolution recommended that all “Democratic Citizens” in the counties of Maryland assemble for the purpose of expressing an opinion on these resolutions.

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