Foreign Relations

Report of the Committee on Foreign Relations on relations with Great Britain, June 3, 1812

National Archives and Records Administration, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives

In November 1811 Speaker of the House Henry Clay of Kentucky appointed a Select Committee on Foreign Affairs to deal with the crisis with Great Britain. The Committee took a combative stance, calling for a larger army and navy and for the arming of merchant ships. The next year, the Committee issued the above report justifying the decision for war. Its militant language catches the American indignation with Great Britain. The United States had endured Great Britain’s "many acts of violence and oppression" with "patient forbearance." In the face of such British arrogance, war was the only alternative to "a loss of character and Independence."