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The Hartford Convention or Leap No Leap, etching by William Charles, ca. 1814

A satirical print depicted Federalist representative Timothy Pickering, a secessionist, praying for Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island to “make the leap” of leaving the Union, while King George III of Great Britain tempted them with trade benefits.

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

The Hartford Convention or Leap No Leap, etching by William Charles, ca. 1814

The Hartford Convention

New England’s Federalist Party opposed the War of 1812 because of its disastrous impact on the region’s economy. Meeting in Hartford, Connecticut, in December 1814, party delegates secretly debated—and rejected—secession; instead, they drafted constitutional amendments strengthening state controls over commerce and militias. As Congress received the Hartford Convention’s proposals, news arrived of the American victory in New Orleans and the signing of the Treaty of Ghent. The Federalist Party soon waned in power and prominence, leading to the eventual formation of new political parties.

Our nation may yet be great, our union durable. But should this prospect be utterly hopeless, the time will not have been lost, which shall have ripened a general sentiment of the necessity of more mighty efforts to rescue from ruin, at least some portion of our beloved country.

The Proceedings of a Convention of Delegates…Convened at Hartford, in the State of Connecticut, December 15, 1814