As we have seen, it was the New England Federalists who were most strongly opposed to Jefferson's original Embargo and the War of 1812 that followed it. Sectional divisions in the country had been apparent since the time of Revolutionary War, and they would continue. What especially irked New Englanders was what they called the “Virginia Dynasty”; They had been reasonably satisfied with Washington, who was essentially a Federalist, but then came Jefferson and Madison, and James Monroe was standing in the wings. John Adams, the only northerner to break the Virginia hold, had been turned out after one term.

In December of 1814, delegates from the New England states met in Hartford to forge a regional plan of opposition to the war. Though some delegates called for New England's secession from the Union, the moderates prevailed. Their final report only hints at secession, though it does recommend a series of seven amendments to the Constitution to protect New England from what residents believed were attacks on its sovereignty and prosperity. The Amendments would have lessened the power of the South and the West, had they been adopted. Unfortunately for the Federalists, they met on the eve of the victory of New Orleans and the conclusion of peace. After those events, the Convention's demands seemed to many as irrelevant as well as disloyal. The Federalist party never recovered from the Hartford Convention.

The nation in 1815 was still very fragile in many ways, and the trial by fire that was the Civil War was the culmination of sectional differences. Sectional tensions remained after 1865, but the unity of the nation was never again seriously threatened.

The Hartford Convention adopted resolutions that included proposed Constitutional amendments, summarized as follows:

  • Abolish the 3/5 Compromise (Reduce Southern power in Congress.)
  • Require 2/3 of the Senate to declare war. (One third of the states could veto a war proposal.)
  • Place a 60-day limit on any embargo.
  • Permit presidents to serve only one term.
  • No president may succeed another president from the same state. (Prevent another "Virginia dynasty.")

The actual report follows.

Report and Resolutions of the Hartford Convention, January 1815

[Note that some of the spelling is still “English.” American English was still in the making.]


That it be and hereby is recommended to the legislatures of the several states represented in this Convention, to adopt all such measures as may be necessary effectually to protect the citizens of said states from the operation and effects of all acts which have been or may be passed by the Congress of the United States, which shall contain provisions, subjecting the militia or other citizens to forcible drafts, conscriptions, or impressments, not authorised by the constitution of the United States.

Resolved, That it be and hereby is recommended to the said Legislatures, to authorize an immediate and earnest application to be made to the government of the United States, requesting their consent to some arrangement, whereby the said states may, separately or in concert, be empowered to assume upon themselves the defence of their territory against the enemy; and a reasonable portion of the taxes, collected within said states, may be paid into the respective treasuries thereof, and appropriated to the payment of the balance due said states, and to the future defence of the same. The amount so paid into the said treasuries to be credited, and the disbursements made as aforesaid to be charged to the United States.

Resolved, That it be, and hereby is, recommended to the legislatures of the aforesaid states, to pass laws (where it has not already been done) authorizing the governors or commanders-in-chief of their militia to make detachments from the same, or to form voluntary corps, as shall be most convenient and conformable to their constitutions, and to cause the same to be well armed, equipped and disciplined, and held in readiness for service; and upon the request of the governor of either of the other states to employ the whole of such detachment or corps, as well as the regular forces of the state, or such part thereof as may be required and can be spared consistently with the safety of the state, in assisting the state, making such request to repel any invasion thereof which shall be made or attempted by the public enemy.

Resolved, That the following amendments of the constitution of the United States be recommended to the states represented as aforesaid, to be proposed by them for adoption by the state legislatures, and in such cases as may be deemed expedient by a convention chosen by the people of each state.

First. Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this Union, according to their respective numbers of free persons, including those bound to serve for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, and all other persons.

Second. No new state shall be admitted into the Union by Congress, in virtue of the power granted by the constitution, without the concurrence of two thirds of both houses.

Third. Congress shall not have power to lay any embargo on the ships or vessels of the citizens of the United States, in the ports or harbours thereof, for more than sixty days.

Fourth. Congress shall not have power, without the concurrence of two thirds of both houses, to interdict the commercial intercourse between the United States and any foreign nation or the dependencies thereof.

Fifth. Congress shall not make or declare war, or authorize acts of hostility against any foreign nation, without the concurrence of two thirds of both houses, except such acts of hostility be in defence of the territories of the United States when actually invaded.

Sixth. No person who shall hereafter be naturalized, shall be eligible as a member of the senate or house of representatives of the United States, nor capable of holding any civil office under the authority of the United States.

Resolved, That if the application of these states to the government of the United States, recommended in a foregoing resolution, should be unsuccessful and peace should not be concluded, and the defence of these states should be neglected, as it has been since the commencement of the war, it will, in the opinion of this convention, be expedient for the legislatures of the several states to appoint delegates to another convention, to meet at Boston...with such powers and instructions as the exigency of a crisis so momentous may require.

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