The New Student's Reference Work/Hartford Convention, The

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Hartford Convention, The, was an assembly of delegates from the New England states, held at Hartford, Dec. 15, 1814, as proposed by the Massachusetts legislature. The war with Great Britain (1812-14) had from the first been opposed by the majority of the people of New England, who were Federalists and regarded the war as merely a party measure of the Democrats; and in view of the destruction of the commerce and the fisheries, which were the chief interests of New England, this convention was called to plan means of security and defense. It sat with closed doors for 20 days, and, being supposed to be of a treasonable character, was watched by a military officer of the government. The convention prepared a report, recommending the adoption of measures by the different state legislatures that would protect their citizens from being pressed into the military or naval service by force. No treasonable act was committed, no treasonable intention was proved; yet the suspicion of disloyal tendencies clung to the convention, and completed the ruin of the Federalist party in the election of 1816. Some ground for public suspicion was inferred by the fact that a section of the Federalist leaders who, in 1804 and 1809, had seriously discussed the question of dissolving the Union and forming an eastern confederacy, were foremost in bringing the convention about; the charge, therefore, of aiming at a kingdom of New England was not excuseless. Men of the highest public character who were delegates, however, defended the pure purpose and patriotism of those who took part in the proceedings, and the charges of treasonable designs are now regarded as baseless.