Commemoration of the 208th Anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans – “To the 2nd Division” from Andrew Jackson, 7 March 1812
The 208th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans was January 8th, and the day was commemorated with gallery talks, family events, a balcony speech and the annual wreath-laying ceremony at the president’s tomb. More than 600 people visited The Hermitage that day and enjoyed free Grounds Passes, as well as the Mansion Tours, VIP Tours and In Their Footsteps: Lives of The Hermitage Enslaved Tours that were offered. The event pays tribute to the American victory during the War of 1812. The battle, which took place January 8, 1815, resulting in more than 2,000 British casualties in a span of only 30 minutes and propelled General Andrew Jackson to national fame.
The speech given on the balcony of The Hermitage mansion, “To the 2nd Division,” was written by Andrew Jackson to the 2nd division on March 7, 1812, after learning of the passage of the act authorizing President Madison to organize and accept volunteer corps.
“Volunteers to arms!
Citizens! Your goverment has at last yielded to the impulse of the nation. Your impatience is no longer
restrained. The hour of national vengeance is now at hand. The eternal enemies of american prosperity are again to be taught to respect your rights, after having been compelled to feel, once more, the power of
War is on the point of breaking out between the united states and the King of Great Britain! and the martial hosts of america are summoned to the Tented Fields!
Citizens! an honourable confidence in your courage and your patriotism has been displayed by the
general goverment. To raise a force for the protection of your rights she has not deemed it necessary to
recur to the common mode of filling the ranks of an army.
No drafts or compulsory levies are now to be made.
A simple invitation is given to the young men of the country to arm for their own and their
countries rights. On this invitation 50,000 volunteers, full of martial ardor, indignant of their Countries
wrongs and burning with impatience to illustrate their names by some signal exploit, are expected to
repair to the national standard.
Could it be otherwise? Could the general goverment deem it necessary to force us to take the field? We,
who for so many years have demanded a war with such clamorous importunity—who, in so many
resolutions of town meetings and legislative assemblies, have offerred our lives and fortunes for the
defence of our country—who, so often and so publickly have charged this verry goverment with a
pusillanimous deference to foreign nations, because she had resolved to exhaust the arts of negociation
before she made her last appea[l] to the force of arms. No, under such circumstance it was impossible for
the goverment to conceive that compulsion would be wanting to bring us into the field. and shall we now
disappoint the expectations which we ourselves have excited? shall we give the lie to the professions
which we have so often and so publickly made? Shall we, who have clamoured for war, now skulk into a
corner the moment war is about to be declared? Shall we, who for so many years have been tendering our lives and fortunes to the general goverment, now come out with evasions and pitifull excuses the moment tender is accepted?
But another and a nobler feeling should impell us to action. Who are we? and for what are we going to
fight? are we the titled Slaves of George the third? the military conscripts of Napolon the great? or the
frozen peasants of the Rusian Czar? No, we are the free born sons of america; the citizens of the only
republick now existing in the world; and the only people on Earth who possess rights, liberties, and
property which the dare call their own.
For what are we going to fight? To satisfy the revenge or ambition of a corrupt and infatuated Ministry?
to place another and another diadem on the head of an apostate republican general? to settle the ballance
of power among an assasin tribe of Kings and Emperors? “or to preserve to the prince of Blood, and the
grand dignitaries of the empire” their overgrown wealth and exclusive privileges? No: such splendid
atchievements as these can form no part of the objects of an american war. But we are going to fight for the
reestablishment of our national charector, misunderstood and vilified at home and abroad; for the
protection of our maritime citizens, impressed on board British ships of war and compelled to fight the
battles of our enemies against ourselves; to vindicate our right to a free trade, and open a market for the
productions of our soil, now perishing on our hands, because the mistress of the ocean has forbid us to carry them to any foreign nation; in fine, to seek some indemnity for past injuries, some security against future aggressions, by the conquest of all the British dominions upon the continent of North america.
Here then is the true and noble principle on which the energies of the nation should be brought into action: a free people compelled to reclaim by the power of their arms the rights which god has bestowed
upon them, and which an infatuated King has said they shall not enjoy.
In such a contest will the people shrink from the support of their goverment; or rather will the shrink
from the support of themselves? will the abandon their great imprescriptible rights, and tamely surrender
that illustrious national charector which was purchased with so much blood in the war of the Revolution?
No: such infamy shall not fall upon us. The advocates of Kingly power shall not enjoy the triumph of
seeing a free people desert themselves, and crouch before the slaves of a foreign tyrant. The patriotic
tender of voluntary service of the invincible grays Capt. F. Stumps independent company and a
correspondent display of patriotism by the voluntary tender of service from the counties of Davidson
Sumner Smith and Rutherford, is a sure pledge that the free sons of the west will never submit to such
But the period of youth is the season for martial exploits; and accordingly it is upon the young men of
america that the eye of the nation is now fixed. They in a peculiar degree are the proper subjects of a
volunteer expedition. To say nothing of the generous courage which distinguishes that period of life, they,
from their particular situation, can quit their homes at the shortest notice with the least inconvenience to
themselves. Unencumbered with families and free from the embarrassment of domestic concerns they are
ready at a moments warning to march to any extremity of the republick.
Should the occupation of the Canadas be resolved upon by the general goverment, how pleasing the
prospect that would open to the young volunteer while performing a military promenade into a distant
country, a succession of new and interesting objects would perpetually fill and delight his imagination the
effect of which would be heightened by the war like appearence, the martial music, and the grand
evolutions of an army of fifty thousand men.
To view the stupendous works of nature, exemplified in the falls of Niagara and the cataract of
Montmorence; to tread the consecrated spot on which Wolf and Montgomery fell, would of themselves repay the young soldier for a march across the continent. But why should these inducements be held out
to the young men of america? They need them not. animated as they are by an ambition to rival the
exploits of Rome, they will never prefer an inglorious sloth, a supine inactivity to the honorable toil of
carrying the republican standard to the heights of abraham.
In consideration of all which and to carry into effect the object of the general goverment in demanding
a voluntary force, to give the valiant young men of the Second Military Division of the state of Tennessee
an opportunity to evince their devoted affection to the service of the republic; the Major General of the
said division has thereupon ordered”