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Indiana University Bloomington


War or No War?

Present State of our Country
Present State of our Country

If support for war was mixed in the Republican party, the Federalist party was overwhelmingly against declaring war on Britain. With its power centered in the commercial elite of New England, the economic disaster brought on by Republican embargo and non-importation laws made Federalists irate. They considered war an expensive mistake and favored a more conciliatory relationship with Britain. Though traditionally Federalists were supportive of a strong central state and national military, their political opposition to the war caused them to take up arguments in favor of states rights, particularly regarding the activation of state militias and the imposition of taxes to finance the war.

Debate over the impending war also had a serious religious dimension. Many people were concerned over the moral implications of war, and both pro-war or anti-war arguments took up religious themes. Those opposing the war sometimes cited concerns about the fallacy of a just war or opposed fighting Britain who they viewed as a defender of the faith against the depredations of the Catholic French. Pro-war arguments depicted the conflict as a just war led by Americans, a chosen people, against Britian, a country with a long history of religious intolerance and persecution.