Option 1: Avoid War. It is Unjust and Unnecessary.
All 42 Federalists members of Congress oppose war with England. It should also be noted should that the Democratic-Republicans themselves are split. The war is unnecessary, dishonorable, and ruinous to the nation. It is unnecessary because the British have not attacked the United States and because compromise is still possible. It is dishonorable because the Madison administration is intent on attacking America’s peaceful neighbor to the north, British Canada, and perhaps annexing it. It is potentially ruinous because Great Britain could blockade American ports and attack vulnerable east coast cities and towns (which indeed happened as the war progressed-Washington DC was burnt down).
Supporting Arguments for Option 1
The U.S. Navy is no match for the gigantic Royal Navy, which has hundreds of active warships including 176 ships of the line and 600 warships altogether. The U.S. Navy has just 16 ships, including the 12-gun USS Viper and the 44-gun USS Constitution.
Similarly, because of Jefferson’s small government policies, we have only 3000 soldiers ready to fight against one of the strongest armies in the world.
The real enemy is Napoleon, who was described by one Federalist as the “arch-Fiend who has long been the curse and Scourge of the European World.” (from - http://beyondthebattleofbladensburg.blogspot.com/2014/06/)
War will devastate our Northern shipping industry and eventually the entire country. The Embargo Act of Jefferson’s deeply hurt our entire economy. Going to actual war will be even worse!
Arguments Against Option 1
So far, negotiating with GB to stop impressment of American sailors has proved futile. Why will negotiations work now when they haven’t before? Madison even reached a deal and the British reneged.
Great Britain is supporting Tecumseh and other Native Americans and stopping our expansion Westward and harassing our settlers on the frontier. More talking will just stop our progress.
Option Two: Attack now while Britain is distracted.
British actions demand war. We would rather have war than further "submit" to British insults.
Though France and Britain both harm the United States, Britain is the greater offender. Britain’s tightening rules on neutral trade frustrate our American merchants, and the British policy of impressment should be insulting to all Americans- especially New England Federalists.
Canada is vulnerable; an attack on that British colony will force Britain to make concessions on both trade and impressment. At the same time, the conquest of Canada will remove a longstanding threat to America’s security on the North American continent and restore national honor.
Thus, we propose to invade and conquer Canada and use it as a negotiating chip with Britain.
As President James Madison argued in his message to Congress on June 1, 1812, we charge Britain with impressing thousands of American sailors, in effect kidnapping them and forcing them to crew Royal Navy ships; the British have repeatedly harassed Americian merchant ships and cut off our “legitimate markets” in Europe and the Caribbean; and that British agents are working with hostile Native Americans on the northwestern frontier. As negotiations have failed to end these “injuries and indignities which have been heaped on our country,” the only recourse is war!
Supporting arguments for Option 2.
- Great Britain's Navy is stretched thin by the Napoleonic Wars.
- Invade Canada! We in the rural South and the American West —(then the territory stretching up the Mississippi basin to the Great Lakes.) are eager to strike at the British in Canada because they are arming Native American tribes standing in the way of our westward expansion.
- The invasion will be easy. Ordinary Canadians will want to shake off their British overlords just as we did. The "acquisition of Canada," predicts former President Thomas Jefferson, "will be a mere matter of marching."
- After all, the United States beat Britain before in the Revolution with a small army at the start. Why should this time be different?
Arguments Against Option 2
- The United States has a puny army and a small navy. How can it possibly win?
- Jefferson’s Embargo Acts hurt the American economy. This war could destroy it.