Jonathan Russell and the War of 1812
peace before and after the War of 1812. President James Madison appointed him Charge'
D'Affaires to France in 1810 and Ambassador to England in 1811. He served as
Ambassador to Sweden and Norway from 1814 to 1818. The focus of his career had been
influenced by his patriotism and his will to improve international relations.
Russell had a difficult task trying to negotiate a peaceful settlement with England. There
were policies that were worsening relations between the countries. England was already
at war with France (Napoleon), and its decision to board American ships, kidnap their
sailors, and press them into service of the Royal Navy could not be tolerated. There were
issues of territorial expansion and hostile Indians being armed by the British. With the
humiliation of the defeat by the United States in the War of Independence still in mind,
British diplomats showed no willingness to cooperate with the American Ambassador to
the Court of Saint James. War was declared in June, 1812, and lasted for two and one half
The War of 1812 was officially over on December 24, 1814. With both sides exchanging
victories and defeats, the war-weary British had simply had enough. Both sides agreed in
the Treaty of Ghent to a status quo ante bellum: they allowed everything to be as it was
before the war. Neither side declared victory. The terms of agreement were negotiated by
five highly skilled American commissioners: Jonathan Russell, John Quincy Adams,
Henry Clay, James Bayard, and Albert Gallatin. Though the war was devastating to the
young country, one of the positive outcomes was a new feeling of national pride and unity.
The United States had once again stood up to the strongest military power in the world,
and showed that it would not be pushed around.
Jonathan Russell was a highly respected world figure. He had tried very hard to prevent
the War of 1812 from taking place and worked very hard to bring the war to an end. When
his diplomatic career was over, he served as a representative in the Massachusetts
Legislature and as a member of the United States Congress. He was an active and
generous member of his church and a participant in local government.
Jonathan Russell lived at the corner of Hastings Street and Emerson Street in Mendon.
His first wife was Sylvia Ammidon, the daughter of Colonel Philip Ammidon. She grew up
at 4 Main Street at Ammidon Inn ( presently Mendon Antique Center).
The war brings to mind some heroic imagery: Francis Scott Key observing the star
spangled banner at dawn after a night of heavy bombardment at Fort McHenry; the U.S.S.
Constitution - Old Ironsides- defeating the British frigate Guerriere in a sea battle off the
coast of Massachusetts; and Stonewall Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans. The stories
of heroes have a special part in our history, but one of the great heroes of the War of 1812
was truly one of our own.
Richard Grady --- Mendon, MA
Russell Plans Welcome for Lafayette
Milford News Article on Russell Mendon Menu
The Jonathan Russell house. Russell
lived here from 1818 to 1828. Seth
Hastings lived here from 1802 to 1818.