[New York: July 31, 1813]. Newspaper broadside. 51 x 34 cm. Text in five columns. Overall toning to paper, faint old stain, paper flaw across part of the last two columns resulting in some disjointing of text, left margin uneven, disbound.
In 1813 militia commanders in New York were ordered to be ready for a British invasion. One of the commanders, Capt. William Hawley, in charge of the 142nd Regiment, 3d Brigade of Infantry, issued an order to his men on June 10, re-printed in this newspaper supplement, which reads in part: "The United States being involved in war, whether just and necessary, we, as citizens, have a right to judge and to express that judgment without fear or molestation. But while we enjoy those rights, we are bound to render obedience to the laws of our country, and to support the government, at the same time that we condemn the administration for their weakness and folly in plunging us unprepared into this Quixotic war. From the support hitherto afforded the General Government by its citizens, we have a right to claim of them and they are bound to give us protection. In consequence of the misconduct of our rulers, this protection has not been afforded us, and we are now called upon to protect ourselves. Painful as this duty may be, I hope and trust that every citizen under my command will sacrifice with me on the altar of patriotism every feeling inconsistent with a full co-operation with the rest of our fellow-citizens; and when the enemy shall approach, to rally round the standard of our country, and in defence of our liberties, our homes and our fire-sides, be ready and willing to lay down our lives at the threshhold of our country...." For his outspoken opinions, Hawley was arrested and charged as follows, in his court martial trial: "For unofficer-like conduct in endeavouring to excite dissention and insubordination among the men under his command, by issuing, on the 10th day of June, 1813, to the Company under his command, an order...." Hawley pleaded not guilty, and was subsequently acquitted. Brigadier General Bogardus then reversed the sentence of the courts martial, stating that Hawley's order "was calculated to introduce political discussion between the Captain and the privates of his company, and thus to lessen the distance and to diminish the respect which ought to exist between them." Although citizens have a right to question rules and doctrines of the General Government, the same rights are not afforded to the military "because it was impeaching and impugning the motives and conduct of the General Government, which, in a junior officer, not having a separate command, could not have been necessary as an act of discretion, and was not authorized by the authority of the state or of his superior officers."
The final three columns print Capt. Hawley's written defense of his actions, in which he asserts the rights of citizen soldiers to free speech. He states his reasoning for each sentence in his order to his company. Regarding his claim that the government had not properly protected its citizens by following the maxim "in peace prepare for war," he cites an address by Pres. Thomas Jefferson in 1808 who chose to use the abundance of money in the country's treasury to fund canals, rather than protect its cities. Hawley says, "... if the light of truth may not shed its beams among citizen-soldiers; acting under the law organizing the militia; if obedience to the laws of my country, and a willing support of the government be wrong: If the burden of my song must be 'Great is President Madison of the Americans, and all that he does is right and just' Then have I offended. But not until this doctrine is established and becomes the law of my country, can I consent to yield those rights, for which our fathers fought and bled...." Item #66235
William Hawley (1784-1845), who had previously studied law in New York City, resigned his commission in 1814. Richard Barbuto in his book "New York's War of 1812: Politics, Society, and Combat," [Univ. of Oklahoma Press: 2021, p.150] notes: "Many soldiers were well aware of the case. Such events diminshed the morale and cohesion of the militia units charged with the defense of the city." Hawley later became an Episcopal minister, moving to Washington DC to become assistant rector of St. John's Church until his death. He officiated at the wedding of James Monroe's daughter, the funeral of William Henry Harrison, and the marriages of the children of John Quincy Adams and John Tyler. [see: his brief biography on the Indian Land Tenure Foundation's website, where he is also listed as a signer of a treaty with the Sioux in 1837].