War of 1812: "Bravely Facing the Dangers of War"

Cropped view of an engraving recolored in light greyscale tones shows General Jackson on a horse with American soldiers fighting the British in the background.

When General Andrew Jackson arrived in New Orleans to defend the city from British invasion, he established martial law in the city—the first time in United States history. However, he continued martial law after the Battle of New Orleans on January 8, 1815, and the repulse of the British army. This led to conflict between some civilians and General Jackson and questions about citizens' liberties and military necessity. The follow letter to the mayor of New Orleans offers praise for the civilian population and an attempt to smooth over the military and civilian tension in the city. 


To Nicholas Girod, Esq. Mayor of the City of New Orleans.

Head-quarters, 7th military district, January 27, 1815.


Deeply impressed since my arrival with the unanimity and patriotic zeal displayed by the citizens over whom you so worthily preside, I should be inexcusable if any other occupation than that of providing for their defence had prevented my public acknowledgment of their merits. I pray you now, sir, to communicate to the inhabitants of your respectable city the exalted sense I entertain of their patriotism, love of order, and attachment to the principles of our excellent constitution. The courage they have shown in a period of no common danger, and the fortitude with which they have rejected all the apprehensions which the vicinity of the enemy was calculated to produce, are not more to be admired than their humane attention to our own sick and wounded, as well as to those of that description among prisoners. The liberality with which their representatives in the city council provided for the families of those who were in the field, evinced an enlightened humanity, and was productive of the most beneficial effects. Seldom in any community, has so much casue been given for deserved praise; while the young were in the field, and arrested the progress of the foe, the aged watched over the city, and maintained its internal peace; and even the softer sex encouraged their husbands and brothers to remain at the post of danger an duty. Not content with exerting for the noblest purpose that powerful influence which is given them by nature (and which in your countrywomen is rendered irresistible by accomplishments and beauty) they showed themselves capable of higher efforts, and, actuated by humanity and patriotism, they clothed by their own labour, and protected from the inclemency of the season the men who had marched from a distant state to protect them from insults. In the name of those brave men, I beg you, sir, to convey to them the tribute of our admiration and thanks; assure them that the distant wives and daughters of those whom they have succoured with remember them in their prayers; and that for myself no circumstance of this important campaign touches me with more exquisite pleasure than that I have been enabled to lead back to them, with so few exceptions, the husbands, brothers, and other relatives of whom such women are worthy.

I anticipate, sir, with great satisfaction, the period when the final departure of the enemy will enable you to resume the ordinary functions of your office, and restore the citizens to their usual occupations—they have merited the blessings of peace by bravely facing the dangers of war.

I should be ungrateful or insensible, if I did not acknowledge the marks of confidence and affectionate attachment with which I have personally been honoured by your citizens; a confidence that has enabled me with greater success to direct the measures for their defence, an attachment which I sincerely reciprocate, and which I shall carry with me to the grave.

For yourself, Mr. Mayor, I pray you to accept my thanks for the very great zeal, integrity, and diligence with which you have conducted the arduous department of the police committed to your care, and the promptitude with which every requisition for the public service has been carried into effect.

Connected with the United states, your city must become the greatest emporium of commerce that the world has known. In the hands of any other power it can be nothing but a wretched colony. may your citizens always be as sensible of this great truth as they have shown themselves at present: may they always make equal efforts to preserve the important connexion, and may you, sir, long live, to witness the prosperity, wealth, and happiness that will then inevitably characterize the great seaport of the western world.

I have the honour to be, &c.





Andrew Jackson, January 27, 1815 - printed in Historical memoir of the war in West Florida and Louisiana in 1814-15, published in 1816.

Related Battles

Louisiana | January 8, 1815
Result: United States Victory
Estimated Casualties
United States
United Kingdom