Note: this post owes a great debt to Fletcher Pratt wonderful book from 1950 Preble’s Boys commodore Preble and the Birth of American Sea Power. Chapter 13

Today on the Sunday shows Denis McDonough and surrogates of the president continued to attempt to rally the US congress to support Barack Obama’s use of the military to confirm his manhood punish Syria for the use of chemical weapon. They continue to make this push while insisting he not only doesn’t need their votes but will not commit himself to any result he doesn’t agree.

Given the messterpiece that this administration has painted might I suggest that this administration in general and this president in particular take a lesson from history from a young naval officer by the name of Charles Stewart during another crisis facing radical Islamic foes.

Back in 1805 the Bey of Tunis, claiming international law didn’t apply to him, demanded the return of two ships caught running a US blockade (imposed because of the Bey’s ships preying on American shipping) and an indemnity for daring to prevent him from seizing our merchantmen. Our US consul being a sane and rational man refused. The Bey not being so threatened to send his fleet after our warships. As the US had a small navy of under 20 ships that threat had some teeth.

Unfortunately for the Bey while the US navy was tiny his timing was really bad. A fleet of nine US warships was nearby from the USS Constitution and four other frigates to the USS Enterprise and three other smaller ships 230 guns commanded by John Rodgers who in an age of honor and duels was certainly not going to let the Bey’s insult pass.

Rogers led his fleet to Tunis and sent Lt. Stephen Decatur to negotiate satisfaction but the Bey defiantly refused to even see him.

That was enough for Rogers he proposed to open fire and called a council of officers for approval before doing so. With one exception every single officer backed war, that exception was Lt Charles Stewart.

Stewart case was constitutional only congress could declare war. If even the president of the United States did not hold this power how could the commander of a squadron, that had not been subject to attack, claim that right?

Rogers didn’t like it but he abandoned his planned attack and was able to eventually bring the Bey around diplomatically.

While Rogers was not happy with Stewart, President Thomas Jefferson had a different view expressing…

“high satisfaction at having an officer in the squadron who comprehended international law, the condition of his country and the policy of his government,”

…and he expressed that satisfaction by promoting him to Captain.

That would prove to be a wise decision by Jefferson. Stewart would serve his country well as captain. He and William Brainbridge would be directly responsible for persuading the Secretary of the Navy and President Madison to allow the US fleet to engage the British navy during the War of 1812. Our tiny navy’s incredible string of victories shook the world and saved the country. Stewart himself would win the final one in command of USS Constitution taking the HMS Cyane & HMS Levent in a skilled action.

Stewart would go on to be the Senior Flag officer of the Navy, the first ever US Admiral and would, even after 67 different papers endorsed him for president in 1844 decline to run for an office that he was in an excellent position to win.

President Obama and his administration would do very well to take the example and wise counsel he gave. Then again if this administration was wise enough to take such counsel we likely wouldn’t be in this mess.

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In June of 1812 the United States of America declared War on Great Briton over a variety of causes not the least of which was the impressment of sailors from American merchant ships into the British Navy (which was at the time involved in a life and death struggle with Napoleon and France). Four months before war was officially declared President Madison decided that the 16 American warships’ that composed the US navy best use were as shore batteries defending harbors. Being that England had 600 ships this was seemingly a rational and logical decision.

On Election Day 2008, Barack H. Obama won the presidency winning states such as North Carolina and Virginia which Democrats had not taken in years and retaining democratic strongholds such as Massachusetts and New Jersey; while in congress Democrats made solid gains winning a large congressional majority in the house and a super-majority in the Senate.

On every major network Pundits proclaimed it the start of a new democratic Era. Books poured out about the president, T-Shirts were selling briskly, a massive crowd turned up for the inauguration, and off in England Russell T. Davies was writing a script for the final episode of David Tennant’s run as the 10th Doctor Who’s with the climatic event of the first part was to take place as the world awaited a plan by President Obama to solve the world wide economic crisis. Pundits a plenty reasoned that the era of Reagan was over. Republicans such as Chris Buckley and David Brooks talked about the power of Obama and David Frum began his Frum Forum determined to take the Republican Party away from what they considered the conservative extreme and back to the middle where it could one day triumph.

In February 1812 two American Captains in Washington on separate errands heard of the decision of the President and naval department; Captain William Bainbridge and Captain Charles Stewart went in before Naval Secretary Hamilton and made their case, they were so persuasive that he arranged a meeting with President James Madison.

Shortly after the election Rush Limbaugh, unapologetic defender of conservatism and the single most popular person on Radio declared that it was not the time to stop fighting. He maintained that the election was not a mandate against conservatism, indeed it was only the inclusion of Conservative Republican Sarah Palin that gave the campaign any energy and accounted for the only brief lead in the polls the campaign enjoyed. As Governor Sarah Palin returned to Alaska where Democrats, mindful of the energy she brought to the Republican side; unleashed a string of frivolous ethics complaints determined to neutralize her once and for all, Rush declared publicly on his radio show about President Obama: “I hope he fails”. In February he was scheduled to be the keynote and final speaker at CPAC where he would face a crowd of conservative activists at their lowest ebb of their political lives.…

Continue reading “4 Americans Two Campaigns Bainbridge Stewart Limbaugh Palin”