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1812 Light Squadrons and Single Ships 80

up the hatchet " and go to war. With whom, was the next point to be considered. This, like every thing else in the United States, was to be settled by a calculation of profit and loss. France had numerous allies ; England scarcely any. France had no contiguous territory ; England had the Canadas ready to be marched into at a moment's notice. France had no commerce; England had richly-laden merchantmen traversing every sea. England, therefore, it was, against whom the deadly blows of America were to be levelled.

On the 14th of April, at a secret sitting of Congress, an act passed, laying an embargo on all ships and vessels of the United States, during the space of 90 days ; for the purpose, no doubt, of lessening the number of vessels that would be at the mercy of England when war was formally declared. By the end of May most of the fastest sailing ships, brigs, and schooners in the American merchant service were fitted or fitting as privateers ; and many lay ready to sail forth, the instant the tocsin of war should be sounded. They had not to wait long. The president's message to congress of the 1st of June was the preparative ; and an act of congress, which passed on the 18th, declaring the " actual existence of war between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the United States of America," struck the blow.

Although New-York is 240 miles from Washington, the American seat of government, Commodore Rodgers received his instructions in sufficient time to get under way from the harbour of the first-named city on the morning of the 21st, with the President and United-States frigates, the latter commanded by Commodore Stephen Decatur, the 18-pounder 36-gun frigate Congress, Captain John Smith, 18-gun ship-sloop Hornet, Captain James Lawrence, and 16-gun brig -sloop Argus, Captain Arthur Sinclair ; and, by evening, the American squadron was clear of Sandy-Hook lighthouse.

The first object of Commodore Rodgers was to get possession of a fleet of about 100 sail of homeward-bound Jamaica-men, known to be not far from the coast, under the protection of so comparatively small a force as the British 18-pounder 36-gun frigate Thalia, Captain James G. Vashon, and 18-gun brig-sloop Reindeer, Captain William Manners. This fleet had sailed from Negril bay, Jamaica, on the 20th of May, under the additional convoy, as far as Cape Antonio, of the 64-gun ship Polyphemus, Captain Cornelius Quinton, and had passed Havana on the 4th of June. On the 23d, at 3 a.m., the commodore spoke an American brig, bound from Madeira to New York, and was informed by her that, four days before, in latitude 36°, longitude 67°, she had passed the Jamaica fleet, steering to the eastward. In that direction the American commodore immediately steered.

At 6 a.m., Nantucket shoal bearing north-east distant 35 miles, and the wind blowing moderately from the west-north

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