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"UNNECESSARY," "UNJUSTIFIED" AND "RUINOUS: " ANTI-WAR RHETORIC IN MASSACHUSETTS FEDERALIST NEWSPAPERS, 1812-1815
This dissertation is a case study of anti-war rhetoric based on five Massachusetts Federalist newspapers from the War of 1812. Federalists raised four arguments against the war: (1) they proclaimed their right and duty to oppose it; (2) they claimed it was unjustified; (3) they denounced it as ruinous and (4) they praised fighting men but condemned the war. Throughout these arguments were images derived from republicanism, apocalypticism, the American Revolution and the Constitution. Republicanism taught that fragile republics must limit power and preserve civic virtue. Apocalyptic images depicted the Republicans as sinners; God favored the Federalist cause. The Revolution symbolized resistance to tyranny; the Constitution embodied republican principles. (1) Federalists justified their right and duty to oppose using the Constitution and the Revolution. The First Amendment protected all free speech. The duty to oppose originated because all citizens of a republic must speak on public policies, particularly wrong ones. Federalist opposition was modeled on Revolutionary resistance to British tyranny. (2) Federalists demonstrated the war was unnecessary and unjustified by refuting Madison's justifications for it. They concluded that sinister Republican conspiracies to crush the Federalists and the American republic had actually caused the war. Apocalyptic images revealed Republican wickedness and Federalist righteousness. When the war became defensive, Federalists supported it in order to protect the republic. (3) Federalists denounced economic ruin, civilian suffering, political oppression and moral corruption caused by war. Huge war costs and administration regulations were destroying the economy. Civilian suffering was blamed on the Republicans; the British treated civilians well. Political oppression from the standing army, French alliance and the Embargo propelled the nation toward despotism. Moral corruption increased because God disapproved of the war. Republican images portrayed the danger to the fragile republic; apocalypticism depicted the righteous Federal cause. (4) Federalists distinguished fighting men from the cause for which they fought. Battle losses proves the war could not be won; victories sacrificed brave lives in vain. Federalists attacked Madison for inadequately supporting the military and downplayed allegations of British brutality. The Federalists concluded that loyal citizens opposed the unjustified, ruinous war. The only way to preserve the republic was to oppose the war.
HOFFMAN, ELLEN DANA, ""UNNECESSARY," "UNJUSTIFIED" AND "RUINOUS: " ANTI-WAR RHETORIC IN MASSACHUSETTS FEDERALIST NEWSPAPERS, 1812-1815" (1984). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI8500079.