Brougham's Clean Sweep: A Study of the Opinions of Four London Daily Newspapers About the Repeal of the Orders in Council in 1812
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At least one important area of the War of 1812 historians have either totally ignored or at least slighted, and that is the repeal of the British restrictions on American trade--the orders in council--just before the United States declared war on Britain. Normally authors working with broader subjects which also covered repeal have only gently nudged this topic. In his nine-volume history of the United States Adams devoted only one short chapter to it. Perkins, while going into more detail in his own single chapter on repeal, still admitted that it was far from the last word. Repeal itself is a large subject and a lengthy monograph would be needed to deal adequately with it. For a detailed study of the causes of the War of 1812, however, a knowledge of the background of repeal is necessary. Because the orders were the Americans' main reason for going to war, that tl1ey were rescinded two days before war was declared is very important. If the orders were in the process of repeal, why were not the United States, in the process of starting a war, aware of it? And how obvious was it to outsiders that the British were finally taking some action against the orders? The reverse of the question is also pertinent: how aware were the British of the American steps towards war, and how much did they credit them? With such questions this paper will deal.