June 18 1812: WAR

On June 18 1812, President Madison signs the legislation declaring war on Great Britain and her dependencies. The Senate, the day before, had passed the war bill by a close vote of 19 to 13. The next day, on June 18, Senators Anderson and Varnum delivered the Senate's war bill to the House of Representatives. The Senate had made slight amendments to the House's war bill from June 4, 1812. The Senate's bill was reported to the House. One final vote was needed because of the Senate's amendments. There was one last attempt in the House to defeat the bill but House Speaker Clay marshaled his party to support the bill now entitled an "Act declaring war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland the dependencies thereof, and the United States of America, and their territories." The House voted and the war bill passed 85 to 44. The bill was then delivered by Congressmen Crawford and Turner to the President of the Senate for his signature. The bill was signed and ordered to be delivered to President Madison for his signature. The President received the bill and signed it immediately.   

Senator Varnum reports back to the Senate that the President had signed into law the war act. He then moved a motion to lift the "injunction of secrecy" on the issue of war that has applied since the President delivered his confidential message on June 1, 1812. The motion passes and the doors of Congress are now opened to a country at war.

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