February 19 1815: Andrew Jackson Suspicious of Peace

On February 19 1815, Andrew Jackson learns of  the Treaty of Ghent, but he is wary and thinks it may be a trick. He issues the following address

Fellow-citizens and Soldiers:

The flag-vessel which was sent to the enemy’s fleet has returned, and brings with it intelligence, extracted from a London paper, that, on the 24th of December, articles of peace were signed at Ghent, by the American Commissioners and those of her Britannic Majesty.

We must not be thrown into false security by hopes that may be delusive. It is by holding out such that an artful and insidious enemy too often seeks to accomplish what the utmost exertion of his strength will not enable him to effect. To put you off your guard and attack you by surprise, is the natural expedient of one who, having experienced the superiority of your arms, still hopes to overcome you by stratagem. Though young in the trade of war, it is not by such artifices that he will deceive us.

Peace, whenever it shall be re-established on fair and honorable terms, is an event in which both nations ought to rejoice; but whether the Articles which are said to have been signed for its restoration will be approved by those whose province it is to give to them their final confirmation, is yet uncertain. Until they shall be ratified by the Prince Regent and the President of the United States, peace, though so much desired, may be still distant. When that shall be done, the happy intelligence will be publicly and speedily announced. In the mean time, every motive that can operate on men who love their country, and are determined not to lose it, calls upon us for increased vigilance and exertion.

If peace be near at hand, the days of our watchfulness, of our toils, and our privations, will be proportionably few; if it be distant, we shall at any rate hasten its arrival by being constantly and everywhere prepared for war.

Whatever be the designs of the enemy, we must be ready to meet them. Should he have the temerity to assail us again, we will once more drive him ignominiously from our shore; if he places his hopes of success on stratagem, our watchfulness will disappoint him; if on an exertion of his strength, we have proved how successfully that can be resisted.

It is true Fort Bowyer has fallen, but it must and will be speedily regained. We will expel the invader from every spot of our soil, and teach him, if he hopes for conquest, how vain it is to seek it in a land of freedom.

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