One of History’s Most Successful Aggressor Nations

Saturday, April 16th, 2016

The United States is one of history’s most successful aggressor nations:

We conquered almost the entirety of continental United States through a series of small but undeniably aggressive wars against the Indians who were in possession. We also made a serious but unsuccessful effort to conquered Canada in 1812. Much of the Southwest was originally taken from the Mexicans who were in occupation by two wars, one by the Texans and then, when we annexed Texas, by us. There were still many Indian tribes who did not recognize Mexican sovereignty or our sovereignty when we replaced them. The wars with Geronimo in that area were among our most difficult aggressive wars. We of course bought Florida from Spain, but only after making it clear we would compel an exit by force if they decided not to take our money.

Let us consider first the Indians. It should be said that in many cases there were European powers who claimed parts of the future United States, and they were either were forced to “cede” those parts by war, or sold them to us, but in most cases north of Mexico the area was actually controlled by Indian tribes and the European sovereignty was more or less theoretical. Until our armies had driven out the Indians it is very hard to argue that these areas were actually in our possession.

Let me begin at the very beginning with the settlement of the English colonies. Beginning with the settlements in Virginia and those in New England, colonists had gradually build up a thin layer of essentially European civilization along the Atlantic Coast of what would eventually become the United States. This colonization had proceeded by simply seizing land, sometimes compensating the Indians already there and sometimes fighting wars with them. In general apparently no one ever really considered their rights in the matter. In these areas colonial powers issued charters to their colonists that rather assumed that they had a right to do this. Locke, for example, drew up a charter for the Carolinas in which people’s ownership of land came from their farming it. He paid no attention whatsoever to the natives already there.

But it should be said that the native tribes were not absolutely peaceful. Indeed small groups of Indians tended to raid outlying white settlements. This would continue to be true almost up to the 20th century. Indeed there was one raid in which Indians attacked a federal court in the late 1980s. In what the Europeans call the seven years war and we called the French and Indian war the two major powers in the North American continent, France and England, attempted to involve the Indian tribes in their war. There were raids from some tribes on the English colonies and English entered into treaties with some of these tribes under which they would protect our colonies in return for a guarantee of their keeping’s existing tribal lands. It was this guarantee that prevented or impeded the westward push on the colonists and they objected to it.


It should be said that the Indians in general lived by hunting and gathering and required a great deal of land to support individual families and tribes. Efforts were made, particularly in the Louisiana Purchase to get them to farm the land but this was in general unsuccessful. Thus land that might support 20,000 settlers was occupied by perhaps only 500 Indians. Purchase of the land was difficult because the Indians had no clear-cut tribal or family ownership. The individual tribes were in almost continuous minor wars with each other and hence purchase of land from one would not extinguish the claim of another. Nevertheless, with rare exceptions, we and the other “European” claimants simply ignored Indian rights and issued charters to settlers or in Mexico, conquistadors.

It is interesting that with the occupation of the entire United States by Americans we stopped engaging in wars of conquest.

What Happened after the Vietnam War

Friday, April 15th, 2016

What happened after the Vietnam War, although covered by the newspaper, has been largely forgotten:

I suspect that the invasion of a large number of intellectuals, who regarded their antagonism to the war and their demonstrations to that effect as a high point in their lives, means that they must forget or suppress the mass murderers that followed the Communist victory.

The first of these mass murderers occurred in Cambodia. As soon as we withdrew our forces from Vietnam, it was possible for the Communist to take over Cambodia without any interference from us. They carried off what was the most intense campaign of mass murder anywhere in the world. They only killed 2 million people but as percentage of the rather limited population of Cambodia this was a record breaker. There was a brief attempt to blame it on United States, but that faded out very quickly. Now I think you can say that the whole thing has gone into the memory hole.

There were also the boat people. Apparently the Communist government in Vietnam was anti-Chinese and a large number of people, exact number is not known, were put into leaky boats and shoved out to sea. Estimates of the death rate run between three-quarters of million and million and a half. It may be that this was one of the reasons for China attacking North Vietnam. The boat people got a lot of newspaper publicity at the time and a number of people who been strongly supporting the North in the war signed a full-page advertisement in the New York Times in which they in essence apologized. The matter has, however, been largely forgotten since then.

Manly Courage in the Face of Physical Danger

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff describes some of Jocko Willink’s (@jockowillink) appeal as a business consultant:

America seemed to be full of businessmen like [Ed Cole, the president of Chevrolet] who exercised considerable power and were strong leaders but who had never exercised power and leadership in its primal form: manly courage in the face of physical danger. When they met someone who had it, they wanted to establish a relationship with that righteous stuff.

Selecting Bomb Targets

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

It was reported at the time that President Johnson took an active role selecting bomb targets in Vietnam:

If the newspapers are to be believed he made the selection calls sitting on the toilet seat in the White House. Since almost all bombs were dropped over empty forest it’s hard to see why anybody would be concerned about which particular trees were killed.

There were of course suitable bomb targets in the North. Hanoi almost escaped bombing until the fall of ’72. It was not a major industrial city but nevertheless in World War II We blew up many harmless cities in Germany and Japan. I occasionally visit Wurzeburg, a pretty little city without industry. It was leveled late in the war for no known reason. Certainly Hanoi made at least an equally worthwhile bomb target.

There were two other a rather good bomb targets. The northern boundary of Vietnam is mountainous although not a major mountain range. There were two railroads connecting with China running through this mountain range. Breaking them up by use of fighter-bombers and then keeping them non-operational permanently was militarily obvious and probably worthwhile. Certainly far more worth while than Wurzeburg.

The North of Vietnam is very largely the lower reaches of the Delta of the Red River. This being on the outskirts of the traditional rice growing area of Asia it had been thoroughly converted into a long series of irrigated and drained rice paddies. Breaking up the dikes would have been an easy thing for the air force to do and it might have starved the North Vietnamese government out. We announced that we were not going to do that at the very beginning of the war.


But let us now turn to various other things that were not done although the fact that they were not done was the open secret. The first of these is blockade of the North. There was no blockade until after the ‘72 election when Nixon imposed a blockade and ordered a bombing of Hanoi. This speedily changed the northern negotiating tactics in the attempt to make peace. Thus the open war ended at this time to be renewed later, of course. I never saw any explanation as to why the blockade had not been put on earlier.


The North of Vietnam sent most supplies to the south by way of the Ho Chi Minh Trail which ran through Laos. This ran parallel to the Laotian South Vietnamese border and not terribly far from that border. We did not however make any serious effort to block it. It was bombed from time to time, but it was in the forest and only a trail anyway so this did not do very much in the way of blocking it. On one occasion the South Vietnamese army mounted a light raid on it but quickly withdrew. The only explanation I never heard for failing to make any serious effort to block the trail was a statement by a employee of the Department of State in Washington in which he said that if we moved into Laos the Vietnamese would simply move their trail westward into Thailand, thus bringing the Thais into the war. Why that was thought to be undesirable, was not explained. Surely if they were trying to defend their own territory against the North Vietnamese, their intervention in the war would’ve been to our advantage.

Victory in ’68

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

It seems likely that the actual reason for Johnson entering the war was neither the brush in the Gulf of Tonkin, nor the shelling of the American hospital, Gordon Tullock suggests:

I think Johnson simply saw that it would
make it much easier for him to defeat Goldwater if he stole from Goldwater his military position. In any event the sending of troops many of whom were drafted, and who were under command of a rather inept general, Westmoreland, rapidly developed serious domestic difficulties in United States for the war in Vietnam, but insured Johnson’s victory in ’68.

Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Turbine

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

GE Global Research is testing a desk-size turbine that could produce 10 megawatts — enough to power 10,000 homes — and, more importantly, spin up in minutes:

The unit is driven by “supercritical carbon dioxide,” which is in a state that at very high pressure and up to 700 °C exists as neither a liquid nor a gas. After the carbon dioxide passes through the turbine, it’s cooled and then repressurized before returning for another pass.

The unit’s compact size and ability to turn on and off rapidly could make it useful in grid storage. It’s about one-tenth the size of a steam turbine of comparable output, and has the potential to be 50 percent efficient at turning heat into electricity. Steam-based systems are typically in the mid-40 percent range; the improvement is achieved because of the better heat-transfer properties and reduced need for compression in a system that uses supercritical carbon dioxide compared to one that uses steam. The GE prototype is 10 megawatts, but the company hopes to scale it to 33 watts.

In addition to being more efficient, the technology could be more nimble — in a grid-storage scenario, heat from solar energy, nuclear power, or combustion could first be stored as molten salt and the heat later used to drive the process.

While such a heat reservoir could also be used to boil water to power a steam turbine, a steam system could take 30 minutes to get cranked up, while a carbon dioxide turbine might take only a minute or two — making it well-suited for on-the-spot power generation needed during peak demand periods.

I don’t think we should do this kind of trading

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

One of Gordon Tullock’s colleagues at Yale felt strongly that we should not help the French in what was then French Indochina:

Although no admirer of the French empire, I preferred it to the Communists, but I also felt it an unimportant matter from the standpoint of American foreign policy. At the time I was a Foreign Service Officer on detached duty at Yale to study Chinese, so he obviously expected me to express my views on the subject. More correctly he thought that I would express the Department of State’s views.

I responded by saying that Europe was more important than Indochina and we were attempting to restore the remnant of Germany to prosperity and give it possibly a little strength. The French were impeding this and I thought an implicit trade in which we gave them some minor assistance in their empire and they at least moderated their objections to the restoration of Germany would be sensible. He did not object to my statement about the world, but said, “I don’t think we should do this kind of trading.” Although this was only one person, his phrase stuck to my memory as representative of a general climate of opinion among academics studying the Far East.

Me trooper

Monday, April 11th, 2016

When I see a new gadget, I generally say, “Me want it, but me wait,” but a good ad might push me over the edge — and some good behind the scenes bits might push me even harder:

The Democratic Peace

Monday, April 11th, 2016

Gordon Tullock explores the democratic peace:

Apparently many political scientists feel insecure in their teaching that democracy is the best form of government. Thus recently there has been quite a fad in political science arguing that democracies are one way or another peaceful. It’s hard to argue that the Roman Republic was a peaceful conqueror, and the Athenian democracy was hardly reluctant to get into wars. It could of course be argued that these are long ago and that maybe they’re not true democracies. I suspect, however, that they are left out simply because most modern political scientists know little about them. A classical education is no longer part of the normal background of a scholar.

Since democracies undeniably were involved in two major wars in the 20th century and United States succeeded in having a major war that was entirely internal in the 19th century, this contention seems hard to support. It has then been gradually modified in order to bring it into accord with the average political scientist’s gradually growing historical knowledge. The first step was to allege that democracies did not engage in aggressive wars. After this argument had gotten into print, somebody read a little bit about the 19th century in which European democracies seized much of the world by a series of aggressive wars. Thus that particular argument had to be abandoned. I should perhaps say that in no case did anyone say that the previous argument was in error, they just stopped using it.

This leads us to the final version, which is that democracies do not fight with each other. It is to
this myth that this paper is devoted. The two largest wars in recent times were the two world wars. In each of these there were democracies on both sides. This will surprise the average reader since the standard history in United States and England claims that our opponents were dictatorships. Indeed we normally call all of our opponents dictatorships. In essence the wars became virtuous because the democracies fought with, and in fact, defeated dictatorships.

Let us start with World War I. On one side was a German Empire that was a constitutional monarchy with an elected legislature that had the power of the purse. In fact it had a large number of socialist members in that legislature. Criticism of this from those who are proponents of the Democratic peace hypothesis normally point out that the upper house was elected by a method which permitted people of upper incomes to have somewhat more votes than the poor. This was true, but consider the upper house in England, which was hereditary. It is true that its powers had been somewhat restricted, but it still could exercise in almost completely effective veto.

Germany had permitted women to vote from well before the beginning of the war. England did not finish making women eligible to vote until 1931. Indeed during World War I there were many males who could not vote until the passage of the representation of the people act in 1918. The United States of course did not permit blacks living in the South to vote. I suppose it could perhaps be argued that this war does not contradict the thesis that democracies do not fight with each other because it could be argued that there were no true democracies on either side.

World War II raises somewhat the same problems in that Japan also had an elected legislature with a responsible cabinet and the power of the purse held by the legislature. The upper house was to some extent hereditary. The Peers elected some among their number to that house. The English legislature still had an hereditary upper house, but it’s power had been severely restricted.

During the war I used to annoy people by asking them the name of the Japanese dictator. Sometimes they replied ‘the Emperor” which simply showed hopeless ignorance of the Japanese system. He was greatly respected but with rare exceptions (one of which was the decision to surrender) respected his Cabinet’s advice. Even on the decision to surrender he did not go against his Cabinet, he merely introduced the surrender and might well have given up had the Cabinet objected.

A second potential dictator of Japan was the prime minister. Inconveniently, for people who favored this particular view there is the fact that right in the middle of the war he was replaced. That doesn’t happen to dictators. I have occasionally encountered people who say that the military class was the dictator. This involves a peculiar usage of terms, but I suppose it could be argued that it was an oligarchy rather than a democracy. So far as I know there are no studies of how the military controlled the government if it did. Thus I have produced two wars with democracies on both sides. The second I agree is a little shaky but the first is clear.

The political scientists will have to find another argument for democracy. Fortunately such other arguments are easy to come upon. The real issue here is why this rather peculiar and new argument was ever introduced.

Search and Seizure

Sunday, April 10th, 2016

Gordon Tullock discusses search and seizure:

Our constitution provides that a warrant must be obtained before search or seizure except in a limited set of situations that are not relevant to our present
concerns. This is the national constitution, but many states have similar provisions in their constitutions. My discussion will be limited to the national document.

The original constitution had a massive loophole in the prohibition of non-warrant search and seizure. Customs officers may search anyone in the general vicinity of the docks. Since the federal government had little jurisdiction in the interior, and mainly lived on customs duties, it seems unlikely that the search and seizure provision seriously limited the powers of the government.

In any event, tax collection has always been given special privileges in the courts. When I was in law school we read a case in which the judge said that taxes were necessary to support the government, and in particular pay the costs of courts. Thus strict protection of the taxpayer was not necessary. Anyone who has dealt with the Internal Revenue Service or the local real estate assessment procedure will be able to testify to that from experience.

Until a little after the turn of the 20th century, the federal restriction had little effect. If the federal officer undertook a search far from the docks without a warrant he was guilty of a minor crime, but there was no other consequence. It was easy to get warrants so the problem rarely arose. The Supreme Court, however, changed that by ruling that the “fruit of the poisoned tree” i.e. evidence obtained improperly, could not be used in court. Since this applied only to federal cases, and they were rare, the matter was unimportant.

In the days just before I was drafted and sent to Europe, my teacher of criminal procedure, an old fashioned liberal, expressed discontent with the ruling. He said that if a policeman conducted an illegal search, then the prosecuting attorney had two potential customers, the criminal and the policeman, but the criminal “should not profit from the constable error”. This was my opinion, and I think very widely held.

The argument on the other side was that the prosecuting attorney would probably not prosecute the policeman, and hence illegal searches would not be deterred. There was no empirical evidence on the point, but state courts dealt with most crimes, so the matter was of little importance until the late 50s and the Mapp case. In this case, the Supreme Court held that the “fruit of the poisoned tree” precedent applied also to state courts. Some of the states had, of course, been applying similar doctrine on the basis of their own constitutions, but this decision made it nationwide.

It is interesting that at about the same time that the courts began imposing strict rules on searching people suspected of crimes, searches of all sorts of completely innocent persons, suspected of no crime or misdemeanor suddenly became routine. This originally came from a burst of aircraft hijackings, but there were also some cases of bombs on aircraft. Originally, the searches were manual, and would have led to immediate dismissal of the charges if they had been used on people suspected of other crimes without “reasonable cause”.

The use of electronic procedures rather than physical search has now become common, but physical searches are still used in some cases after the electronic search. These special searches are commoner for baggage than the person, but I have had the attendants reach into my pockets when the electronic system detects metal that is suspicious. It is interesting that these searches, particularly, in the early days when the search was manual, sometimes turned up drugs. The ACLU objected to this although they did not object to the original search. In any event, in spite of the constitutional ruling, almost everyone has been searched, first electronically and then manually if the electronic search shows metal. In the early days it was all manual.

The practice has spread. Most courts follow the same procedure for everyone who enters. Many stores have electronic search apparatus on their doors, mainly to detect shoplifters. The student restaurant and bookstore in my university in my university are equipped to electronically search everyone who goes in or out, of the library. I should emphasize that I do not object to these searches, but I do object to the searches of genuine criminals being restricted. Note that the only cases in which searches of people suspected of crimes get to court are those in which they police find evidence in their search, and it is then thrown out. I suppose that a person searched without a warrant or the circumstances in which the courts permit a police search, and in which no evidence was found could sue the police. Such cases are rare to non-existent, and I suspect that juries would be sympathetic to the police if one were brought.


Long ago, in my book “The Logic of the Law”, I suggested that the police be permitted to search freely, but be compelled to pay a fee to the person searched equivalent to the inconvenience imposed. This would solve the whole problem. The police in order to conserve funds would only search with good reason, and the people searched would either be convicted of a crime, or reimbursed. No one but criminals would be hurt. This simple Pareto optimal solution, would I a sure, be held be held unconstitutional. To quote Mr. Pickwick, “The law is a fool and an ass.”

Drug Treatment Before WWII

Saturday, April 9th, 2016

Before World War II, neither England nor the United States had large numbers of drug addicts:

They used different methods, but both were far more successful than we are today.

Beginning with England before the war, anyone who was addicted could get a certificate of addiction, and using it he could go the a doctor for drugs by prescription. The doctor was theoretically treating him with the intention of his eventually stopping drug consumption. The addict, however, could normally find a shady doctor who would simply give him as much as he wanted. The addict was a highly profitable patient since he paid his fee without putting the doctor to much trouble.

The drugs purchased on the prescription would be cheaper than the smuggled product and of greater purity. Thus there would be no market for the illegal drugs and the illegal drug trade would (and did) disappear. There would be no one who could profit from addicting any one, and hence no trade. The total number of certified addicts in the whole of England was around 100; most of them were medical personnel who had succumbed to temptation to sample their own supplies. In essence the procedure sacrificed the existing addicts to prevent the creation of more.

The United States followed a different and more expensive method. Drug addiction was a crime and any one arrested for it was sentenced to one of two special institutions maintained by the federal government. They were called hospitals, but were actually rather unpleasant prisons. The addict would spend about a year being gradually dried out by slowly decreasing doses. This was the standard cure method then and was very unpleasant. At the end of the cure the former addict would be released. He would have lost his physical addiction, but not his physiological one. Most of them simply stopped taking drugs at this time.

The police would watch the former addicts and if they saw signs of addiction, would arrest and test them. I am told that addicts can be detected by observation. In any event there is no great harm in being tested if the former addict is genuinely “former”. He would have lost his contacts with his suppliers while in detention, and the suppliers would know that he was being watched and likely to once again cease to be a customer shortly after they resumed the relationship. Under the circumstances, the drug trade was small, and unprofitable. The Mafia stayed away. The total number of addicts was a small part of the number at present. In both nations the “drug problem” was minor compared to today.

Adopting these procedures today in the United States would be possible, but I think very unpopular. The English procedure would involve certifying literally millions of people as addicts. The illegal trade would shrink or die, but there would be millions of certified addicts at large. Gradually they would either die of or stop their addiction voluntarily. It would, however, take a long time. The total number of addicts would be less than today, but they would be more conspicuous. My guess is that politically the procedure would fail.

The system is no longer working in England due to a peculiar by product of the National Health Service. Doctors in the service are not paid by the call. They have a list of clients and provide medical services for them as needed without specific reimbursement per time. With this fee system, the drug addict is an unprofitable customer. The doctor must give him prescriptions fairly frequently and is paid only by the year he has him on his list. Under the circumstances the doctor is likely to actually try to cure him by gradually reducing his dose. Thus there is a market for the illegal supply of drugs and a trade is gradually developing.

Attempting to apply the pre-war methods to the United States would require the building of many, many specialized prisons and training medical personnel. The cost would be immense and it seems most unlikely that it would even be feasible. Thus although these two methods worked before the war, we must either let people freely take drugs (the course I favor) or continue our present ineffective methods or turn to something new.


Friday, April 8th, 2016

Gate Anime Poster“If you aren’t watching Gate,” Jonathan Jeckell (@jon_jeckell) said, “you are missing out.” So, I checked it out, on Hulu.

If you don’t recognize US Army officer Jon Jeckell’s name, he wrote The Jedi Way of War for Grand Blog Tarkin, which includes passages like this:

The Jedi Order seems to be an institution outside the government, yet with a role in keeping it accountable, limiting power, and fostering the rule of law, similar to the role the Catholic Church had in post-Roman Europe. Francis Fukuyama discusses this in detail in Part III of The Origins of Political Order.

Gate started out as a web-novel before getting published, then adapted as a manga and then an anime.

The premise is that a magical portal opens up between a “typical” fantasy world — as depicted in Japanese media — and modern Japan. Our hero is a Japanese army officer — pardon, Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force officer — who isn’t particularly devoted to his job, but who does love fantasy. Oddly, that doesn’t seem to be the secret to his success.

The story contrasts the modern, high-tech, bureaucratic Japanese against their feudal counterparts. I enjoyed that contrast.

I did not enjoy the endless genre tropes — cliches, really — which were more off-putting than funny, sexy, etc. It’s “mature” in the usual childish way.

Watching the show reminded me how little I knew about modern Japanese arms. For instance, the standard rifle is the Howa Type 64 battle rifle, which has never been exported due to Japan’s strict anti-hardware export laws. The rifle is chambered for 7.62×51mm NATO ammunition — sort of:

A notable feature of the cartridge used in this weapon is that the powder charge is reduced by about 20%, to reduce its inherently excessive recoil and muzzle climb. It was purposely produced with a reduced powder charge to be more suitable to the Japanese physique. Because it was designed around this specialized cartridge, the rifle incurs substantially accelerated wear and tear from using full-powered ammunition. Still, the gas regulator has a setting to accommodate normal 7.62×51mm NATO ammunition.

(Front-line troops get the newer Type 89 in 5.56×45mm NATO.)

The author behind all this is a former SDF officer who is apparently considered extremely right-wing for presenting war as conceivably good, or at least less wrong than not fighting.

The Third War the United States Lost

Friday, April 8th, 2016

The third war the United States lost was the Korean affair:

The North Koreans drove us back to Pusan, we then drove them back more or less to the Yalu when the Chinese, aided by the Russian air force entered and drove us back nearly to Pusan. We then recovered and moved back north to an approximation of the pre 1950 dividing line. The American generals were seriously handicapped by the fact that Maclane was the Officer in the British Embassy in charge of liaison on the Korean War. He kept the Russians and through them the Chinese fully informed on our plans. MacArthur thought somebody was betraying his plans because the enemy so often pre-empted them. At the time, there was a tendency to discount this, but we now know it was true.

In any event, the war ended more or less where it had started. After much death and destruction, nothing had been gained. We may not have lost, but we certainly did not win.

An American Anthropologist with a Fantastic Name

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

When the Human Terrain System came up recently, Grasspunk dug up an old Adam Curtis piece on the subject:

The project was created by an American anthropologist with a fantastic name.

Montgomery McFate.

She was born in 1966. Her parents were counterculture radicals in the heart of the experimental art scene in San Francisco so she is very much “second-generation cool”. She became a punk in the Bay Area in the early 80s.

Back then she was called Mitzy Carlough.

Read the whole thing, which is actually part 9 of an article that I cited three other times: Boetti & Boetti (part 1), Astrakhan Coats and Techno-Utopianism (part 3), and Progressive Afghanistan (part 4).

The Second War the United States Lost

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

The second war the United States lost started when Jefferson decided he would try to put pressure on England:

The English held Canada, which we wanted and had a habit of stopping American ships at sea (including at least one American frigate) and removing seamen who they claimed were deserters from the Royal navy. Modern historians agree that there were many such seamen on our ships, but it is not obvious that the Naval Officers were good at distinguishing them from native-born Americans. This led to an outburst of indignation on the part of the Americans.

Before Jefferson became president, Adams sent our leading diplomat, John Jay, to England to negotiate a treaty on the matter. Under the treaty a commissioner in each American port would issue a certificate that there were no English deserters on a given ship after having inspected it to make sure. For some reason this also led to an outburst of indignation, and Jefferson never even sent it to the Senate for ratification. He invented the embargo that has caused so much difficulty in the diplomatic history of the United States. The absurd idea that a third rate power, without a real navy, could coerce the then two leading powers, France and England was absurd. It did cause more difficulty for the English than for Napoleon, but England did not stop impressing our seamen.

The situation remained in a more or less deadlock with the principle people injured being the maritime interests in New England. They were mainly federalists, so Jefferson and his successor Madison were well able to withstand their pain. Finally, just as Napoleon was marching on Moscow, We entered the war on the French side. Our major objective was Canada, but preventing impressment of our seamen was also thought important. England fought a war that strategically was defensive although tactically it sometimes involved taking the offensive. They had fought a major war with France for twenty years, and the United States had more than doubled in population since independence. Actually occupying it would have been an immense task and they didn’t want to try.

Our navy consisted of a small set of very good frigates and some half built ships of the line. Our frigates distinguished themselves, but were only an annoyance to England. The British blockade of our coast together with occasional landings was also mainly an annoyance, but a more severe one than that inflicted by our miniature navy on them.

The effort to take Canada was a frost, mainly because of the poor quality of our generalship. Scott, a very young and junior general did well, thus starting what was to be a long and distinguished career. The quality of Madison’s other appointees is illustrated by a general in command of 1200 soldiers near Niagara who surrendered unconditionally to an English general with 300. The American general was the only one of our generals sentenced to death by court martial. Unfortunately, Madison commuted the sentence.

The war continued badly and the treaty of peace did not mention any of our war objectives. I remember that my high school history text emphasized our defeat. Politically, however, Madison did well and was able to hand on the Presidency to another member of his party.