March 31 1812: Sir James MacKintosh

On March 31, 1812, Sir James Mackintosh, former Chief Justice of Bombay, is aboard a ship returning to England having left India around November 5, 1811. He will reach England on April 25, 1812, 172 days after he left Bombay. Mackintosh was a Scottish jurist, politician and historian. He had been in India since 1804. While on board he passed the time by reading and recording his impressions in his journal. The journal was also being kept for the benefit of his wife Lady Mackintosh's. Ill health had forced her to return to England sooner than her husband. They have been separated for two years. Extracts from the journal are reproduced below:

March 30 1812: Godwin to Shelley

On March 30, 1812, William Godwin is again writing to Percy Bysshe Shelley in Dublin. Earlier, on March 14 he had urged Shelley to return to London. Godwin again tries to counsel Shelley not to be disheartened by the slow pace of change in society. Godwin the old radical writes as  follows:
March 30, 1812.

I received your last letter on the 24th inst., and the perusal of it gave me a high degree of pleasure. . . . I can now look upon you as a friend. Before, I knew not what might happen. It was like making an acquaintance with Robert Emmet, who, I believe, like yourself, was a man of a very pure mind, but respecting whom I could not have told from day to day what calamities he might bring upon his country; how effectually (like the bear in the fable) he might smash the nose of his mother to pieces, when he intended only to remove the noxious insect that tormented her; and what premature and tragical fate he might bring upon himself. Now, I can look on you, not as a meteoric ephemeral, but as a lasting friend, who, according to the course of nature, may contribute to the comforts of my closing days. Now, I can look on you as a friend like myself, but I hope more effectually and actively useful, who is prone to study the good of his fellow men, but with no propensities threatening to do them extensive mischief, under the form and intention of benefit. . . .

Marc 29 1812: First Wedding in the White House

Thomas Todd
Lucy Washington
On March 29, 1812,  Dolley Madison's sister Lucy Washington married Thomas Todd, an associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. This was the first wedding to take place in the Executive Mansion or the White House. The bridesmaids were Miss Hamilton, Miss Morris and Miss Hay. The groomsmen were Payne Todd (Dolley's son), John Payne (Dolley's brother), and Edward Coles.  The wedding was a modest affair presided over by the Reverend Mr. McCormick. Most agree that Judge Thomas was a good catch.  Dolley Madison describes him as "estimable" and "very rich, very handsome" in a letter of March 20, 1812 written by her and Lucy to their father: 

March 29 1812: Downfall of Speranksy

On March 29, 1812, Tsar Alexander I removed Mikhail Mikhailovich Speransky from his post as State Secretary, a position that had made him one of the most powerful men in Russia. Speransky had advocated many reforms that would have moved Russia towards a more representative constitutional monarchy if they had been carried out. His reforming zeal had made him many enemies in the Russian nobility. In particular, many nobles detested him for introducing qualifying exams for senior civil service posts which harmed many a noble's career prospects. They also feared that he intended to free Russian serfs [1]. Opposition to Speransky culminated in 1812 with allegations of treason being made against him. He was also accused of being in secret contact with the French, which he was with the full knowledge of the Tsar. The unpopularity of Speransky was now a major problem. The Tsar understood that since war with France was almost inevitable he had to have the nobles on his side. Speransky had to be replaced. Adam Zamoyski [2] describes the last encounter between the Tsar and Speranksy: 
         On the evening of 29 March 1812 Speranksy was summoned to an audience with the the Tsar in the Winter Palace. There were no witnesses to the two-hour interview, but those waiting in the antechamber could see that something was wrong when the Minister emerged from the Tsar's study. Moments later the door opened again and Alexander himself appeared, with tears pouring down his cheeks, and embraced Speransky, bidding him a theatrical farewell. Speransky drove home where he found Balashov [Minister of Police], waiting for him. He was bundled into a police kibitka and driven off through the night to exile in Nizhni Novgorod.

        His post as State Secretary was given to Aleksander Semonovic Shishkov, a retired admiral and a particular hater of everything pertaining to France and her culture. 

1. Adam Zamoyski, Moscow 1812: Napoleon`s Fatal March (New York: Harper Perennial, 2004), at 112
2. Zamoyski, at 113 

March 28 1812 Deadly Trenches of Badajoz

On March 28, 1812, Lieutenant John J. Connell, Royal Artillery, was killed in the trenches at Badajoz, Spain.  There were many more casualties. The British and Portuguese armies had been besieging the town since March 16, 1812. This involved the dangerous work of digging trenches,  parallels and earthworks to protect the heavy siege artillery needed to breach the fortress walls. The soldiers digging the trenches were exposed and were fired upon by the French troops in the fortressCaptain John Kincaid noted wryly "One day's trench-work is as like another as the days themselves and like nothing better than serving an apprenticeship to the double calling of grave-digger and game-keeper, for we found ample employment both for the spade and the rifle." Kinkaid also wrote that given the scale of the operations at Badajoz each man was required to be "in the trenches six hours every day and the same length every night".

March 27 1812: Lady Caroline Responds to Byron

On March 27, 1812, Lady Caroline Lamb sits down to write a letter to Lord Byron who - probably the day before - had given her a rose and a carnation. "Your Ladyship, I am told, likes all that is new and rare for the moment," Byron had teased her. Caroline observed that he said this with a "sort of half sarcastic smile."[1] She would respond in a letter dated Good Friday, 1812, which came on March 27, 1812, written "on ornate blue edged paper with white embossed decoration," that she much preferred a sunflower. Her letter reproduced below demonstrates a very fine and playful intelligence. Lady Caroline writes:  

March 27 1812: Martha Ballard, Birth and Anguish

On March 27, 1812, a Friday, Martha Moore Ballard writes in her diary as she has done since 1785 and as she will continue to do until her death. Martha was born in 1734 or 1735 in Oxford, Massachusetts to Dorothy and Elijah Moore. In 1754, she married Ephraim Ballard, a miller and surveyor, who appears to have had loyalist sympathies that caused him trouble after the American Revolution. They had nine children, three of whom died in 1769 from a diphtheria epidemic. 

Martha is now remembered because of the diary that she wrote about her life as a midwife and healer in Hallowell on the Kennebec River, District of Maine. She recorded very basic information in the diary which looked much like an almanac of the time. The diary is divided into three columns. In the first column she recorded the date and sometimes the main event of the day. The third column records  important information such as births, deaths or if she was paid for her services. The centre column has more details but even these are very brief, in point form, and usually start with a one or two word description of the weather. The entry for March 27 1812 can be seen here

Martha's main reason for having a diary was to keep track of her professional services as a midwife though it also details important family events. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, in her very fine book A Midwife's Tale, has been able to chronicle Martha's life in great detail by using the diary. Ulrich notes that Martha was involved in 816 deliveries from 1785 to 1812, the last year of her life. That last fact adds a poignancy to each of the entries for 1812. As spring approaches, Martha increasingly notes that she is feeling "feeble". She is getting sicker as the months pass. What is remarkable is that she continues to go out and to care for those in her community.   

We should remember people like Martha Ballard in our exploration of the past. History is more than the remembrance of the clamour of war or the colour of great events. It is the story of women and men who went about their lives facing daily struggles, joys and trials. I sometimes think of Martha returning home after a long day of helping some family. Some days she is exhausted but content after safely delivering a baby. Other days she is tired and would like to forget the painful grief of the day when a baby has died. She will sometimes do some housework, churn some butter, cut some apples or do some knitting. On each day, without fail, she will sit down to write in her diary what would otherwise now be lost. Two hundred years later, because of her diary, we can have a sense of her life with all its chores and trials and perhaps we can hear the joyous cry of a new born or the grieving wail of a mother being comforted by Martha. March 27 was one of those good days when a new baby was born but it was also a day when Martha notes she "had an anguish turn in the night".

On March 27, 182, Martha Ballard wrote in her diary:
[Birth Edwd Savages Son].
Cloudy part of the day. I was Calld at 10h am by Edwd Savage to go and See his wife who was in Labour. I had a fall on my way but not much hurt. found the patiend had Calld 2 Mid wives & Doct Ellis before Shee Saw me. I found her mind was for Doct Cony. he was Calld and as Providence would have Shee Calld on me to assist her. I performd the Case. Shee was Deld at 8h 30m pm of a Son and is as wel as can be expected. I Slept at mr Jery Babcocks, had an aguish turn in the night.   at Edwd Savages. Birth 11th


The transcription of the diary entry above is taken form the indispensable website dohistory. The transcription of the diary is the work of Robert R. McCausland and Cynthia MacAlman McCausland. The information in this post is also based on  Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard based on her diary, 1785–1812. (Vintage Books, Random House Publishers, 1991). The picture above is from a post card from 1905 of the town of Howell showing the town from London Hill looking down on the Kennebec River and can be found here

March 26 1812: Aaron Burr

For March 26 1812, Aaron Burr finally is board ship a ship leaving London after having borrowed monies, called in favours and sold many of his possessions to pay for the passage. His entry in his private journal reads: 

March 26, 1812. Really on board, mes enfans and thus far on my way to you. But what a job it has been! Let me give you an historical sketch of the day.

March 26, 1812: Southey to Montgomery

On March 26, 1812, Robert Southey writes to fellow poet James Montgomery. 

Robert Southey (August 12, 1774– March 21, 1843) was well known poet, biographer, historian, reviewer and, later, poet laureate.  He was the first to popularize the story of Goldilocks and the Three BearsSouthey was also a friend of  Coleridge and Wordsworth and member - even if a lesser one - of the Lake Poets. Southey is an extremely interesting writer in that he follows the trajectory of other writers of the time going from a youthful radicalism of supporting the French Revolution to high Tory views as he soured on that revolution. In his Toryism, Southey also voiced some sharp criticisms of  "industrialization" and its effects revealing a common source for such views with radical writers who otherwise disagreed with his politics and his support for the established church. In this regard, he would clash with Thomas Babington Macaulay who wrote in 18129 a very critical review of the Southey's book Sir Thomas More; or, Colloquies on the Progress and Prospects of Society. 

March 25 1812: Caroline, Byron and Annabella

On the morning of March 25 1812, Lord Byron entered Melbourne House at the invitation of Lady Caroline Lamb. Byron will start his affair with Lady Caroline and will see his future wife, Annabella Millbanke (pictured above on the right), for the first time that morning. Byron would later write[1]:"The first time of my seeing Miss Milbanke was at Lady ****'s. It was a fatal day; and I remember, that in going up stairs I stumbled, and remarked to Moore, who accompanied me, that it was a bad omen. I ought to have taken the warning. On entering the room, I observed a young lady more simply dressed than the rest of the assembly sitting alone on a sofa. I took her for a female companion..."

Annabella was also not very impressed with Byron[2]: "Yesterday, I went to a morning party at Lady Caroline Lamb's, where my curiosity was much gratified by seeing Lord Byron, the object at present of universal attention. Lady C. has of course seized on him, notwithstanding the reluctance he manifests to be shackled by her... I did not seek an introduction to him, for all the women were absurdly courting him, and trying to deserve the lash of his Satire. I thought inoffensiveness was the most secure conduct, as I am not desirous of a place in his lays...I made no offering at the shrine of Childe Harold, though I shall not refuse the acquaintance if it comes my way."

That morning Annabella was not the focus of Byron's attention. He had come to see Lady Caroline Lamb at Melbourne House, where she lived with her husband William Lamb, together with her in-laws, in a house dominated by the formidable Lady Melbourne. Lady Caroline was known for her morning dance receptions where the French quadrille was practiced together with the new dance sensation of 1812, the German waltz [3]. Lady Caroline was said to be one of the finest waltzers in London. Byron hated the waltz, because of his club foot, but that morning he was beginning an aristocratic dance of seduction played out against the backdrop of the splendor of Melbourne House. It was a scene that had been set by Lady Caroline including placing ropes on the stairs to help him navigate the steps. Byron's biographer, Benita Eisler [4], describes it this way: 
ON THE MORNING of March 25, Byron mounted the triple parade of steep stairs rising from the rotunda to the reception rooms above. At Caroline’s order, a rope grip had been placed along the side to aid his hesitant climb. At the top, Byron emerged into a suite of three interconnected drawing rooms. Strains of music led him to the salon consecrated to dancing, where, from the sidelines, he could observe Lady Caroline in her glory. If he could not make out what she said, he heard the bursts of laughter that greeted her daring and often risqué sallies. More than anything else, it was her physical grace that affected him—almost viscerally. Aware always of his dragging foot, which made him feel nailed to the floor, he was mesmerised by Caro’s quicksilver presence; she seemed in constant motion, dematerialized, in her clinging, swirling gown. (Caroline was so thin that, as she once lispingly confided to Byron’s friend William Harness, she wore “sixth pair of thick thockings” to give more shape to her legs.) 
Caroline's attraction was palpable which in itself was completely flattering for Byron given her family's status as one of the first families of the land as opposed to Byron's lordship  derived from a near extinct title with its insignificant and indebted estate. Byron's physical attraction to her was more ambiguous. Of Caroline's figure Byron later wrote: “though genteel, too thin" and "wanting that roundness that grace and elegance would vainly supply". However, there was an enticing vitality in her large dark eyes and charm in her soft, low, caressing voice. The slender figure, flaxen curls in hair cut short may also have reminded Byron of his beloved John Edleston, with whom he had an affair in his youth while at Cambridge[5]. Byron may have sensed in Lady Caroline a fellow spirit who enjoyed an unconventional sexual ambiguity and role playing. He did not know then, but probably came to appreciate, her fondness for dressing up as a page. That night or later the seduction would have been complete. Fiona MacCarthy [6] describes it this way: "When the evening of consummation finally came the 'apparatus with which he surrounded the evening was 'almost incredibly absurd- her head resting upon a  skull, a case of loaded pistols between them'. Was Byron's confidence boosted by this setting of Jacobean tragedy?" Benita Eisler [7] describes it in this way:
Behind the high-ceilinged state rooms, Byron was now directed to another narrow set with convex iron balustrades. He needed no rope now to aid his climb as he negotiated the ill-lit steps that led to Caroline’s apartments on the floor above. From these stairs, Melbourne House stands revealed as a theater of intrigue. Backstage scaffolding, they close the space between public and private lives, while providing a series of observation points, of porous spaces between two worlds. On a landing there is a window; only yards away and directly opposite, there is another in the parallel wall of the H-shaped structure. In her apartment on the ground floor, Lady Melbourne, “the Spider,” waited, monitoring all comings and goings; what she did not see would be reported to her. As he climbed, Byron retraced another erotic passage, marking the ascent from his own imperial bedchamber at Newstead to the chilly reaches of the servants’ quarters where Susan Vaughan had waited for him. Now, on the second floor of Melbourne House, the daughter of a countess and niece of a duchess invited him to be her lover. Caroline’s room, like its occupant, was startlingly small. The arched alcove was filled by her bed, and there was space for a writing desk, a love seat, and a chair or two. But her windows opened on the romantic landscape of St. James’s Park, where swans floated on the lake. 
That evening, on March 25, 1812, Byron writes to Tom Moore with the pride of a successful seducer [8]: “Know all men by these presents, that you, Thomas Moore, stand indicted—no—invited, by special and particular solicitation, to Lady C L***’s to-morrow even, at half past nine o’clock, where you will meet with a civil reception and decent entertainment.”  

1.  Benita Eisler,  Byron: Child of Passsion, Fool of Fame (New York, Random House, 1999)

2. Fiona MacCarthy,  Byron: Life and Legend (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002) at 167. 
3.  MacCarthy, Fiona,  page 166.
4. Eisler, Benita, at page 7607 
5. Eisler, Benita  at page 7607
6. MacCarthy,  pages 167-168,
7.Eisler,  Benita at page 7628
8. Eisler, Benitaat page 7628

March 24 1812: Coleridge to J.J. Morgan

On March 24, 1812, Samuel Taylor Coleridge writes to J.J. Morgan about  his troubles in Keswick, including his quarrel with Wordsworth.
STC, CL, III, 380: letter from Samuel Taylor Coleridge to J. J. Morgan [24 March 1812]

[24 March 1812] … the Grasmere Business has kept me in a fever of agitation—and will end in compleat alienation—I have refused to go over, & Wordsworth has refused to apologize and has thus made his 12 William Wordsworth: Interviews and Recollections choice between me and Basil Montagu, Esqre—and to omit less matters, lastly, Brown, the Printer of the Friend, who had the Friends, & 20 or 30£ worth of Paper of mine, and 36£ worth of Types, about 14 days ago run off and has absconded.—Every day I meant to write to you— but partly, I was in hopes that by delaying it I might be able  to say definitely when I should set off, but chiefly, I have been in such a state of fever and irritation about the Wordsworths, my reason deciding one way, and my heart pulling me the contrary—scarcely daring to  set off without seeing them, especially Miss Hutchinson who has done nothing to offend me—& yet—in short, I am unfit to bear these things —and make bad worse in consequence.—I have suffered so much that I wish I had not left London

March 24 1812: Lady Caroline Lamb and Byron

On March 24, 1812, Lady Caroline Lamb is introduced to Lord Byron [1] though he first saw her days earlier at a soiree given by Lady Westmoreland. Byron was surrounded by female admirers. Lady Westmoreland was leading Caroline to introduce her to him. Caroline stopped. "I looked earnestly at him, and turned my heel," Caroline would write. Her first impression on seeing Byron was that he was "mad - bad - and dangerous to know." [2] This only added to her attraction. An attraction that was allied with an intuitive cunning that understood that the soiree at Lady Westmoreland was not the right moment for their meeting. This seeming indifference and indeed rudeness intrigued Byron by the challenge it offered. How much of a challenge he was to learn to his great regret.

On March 24, they were to meet at Holland House. The story continues, as told by Benita Eisler [3], as follows: 
Within days they met at Holland House, where Caroline appeared late one afternoon at the end of a long ride from Piccadilly to Kensington. Still flushed and in riding  clothes, she was seated between Tom Moore and Rogers when Lord Holland entered with Byron. Once more she withdrew; this time she insisted on changing her costume before their host could introduce them...
That first evening at Holland House they were joined by William Lamb, who still hoped for a tranquil if not happy marriage. Byron and Lord Melbourne’s heir had met only a few weeks before, at one of Lady Holland’s bachelor dinners. Byron would already have heard that great things were expected of the clever and handsome graduate of Eton and Trinity, his own Cambridge college.

“William Lamb, a rising young genius, dines here for the first time tonight,” Lady Holland had noted in her Dinner Books thirteen years earlier. It would be twenty-two years before Lamb would fulfill his promise and become, as Lord Melbourne, Queen Victoria’s first Prime Minister. Meanwhile, he was moving gradually from being a permanently promising youth whose sole occupation was as tutor and consort to his captivating young wife, toward exploring politics. He had also become the husband of a woman with few resources and infinite need.
Boredom and disappointment had led Caroline into the arms of the first man who offered romantic excitement, an affair that ended with Caroline in disgrace, chastised roundly by both her mother-in-law, Lady Melbourne, and by the redoubtable Lady Holland, mother of her erstwhile lover. It was a small world. Caroline’s own reaction to the scandal had been alternating outbursts of defiance and contrition. Lamb maintained, as he would often be called on to do, a posture of gentlemanly forbearance or perhaps indifference—with him, it was hard to tell.
Before the dinner at Holland House was over, Caroline had invited Byron to one of her morning receptions, the next day, March 25. 
On March 24, 1812, another woman has Byron on her mind. Anna Isabella or Annabella Millbanke has just finished reading the two cantos of Childe Harold and writes in her diary[4]:
It contains many stanzas in the best style of poetry. He is rather too much of a mannerist, that is, he wants variety in the turns of expression: he excels most in the delineation of deep feeling, and in reflections relative to human nature. 
Annabella, the future wife of Byron, is to meet Byron the next day on March 25.  


1.  Byron biographers do not agree on the dates. The only certainty being that it was in late March that Lady Caroline met Lord Byron. I think the stronger argument is for March 24, 1812 but I cannot be certain.
2. Fiona MacCarthy,  Byron: Life and Legend (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002) at 164. 

3.  Benita Eisler,  Byron: Child of Passsion, Fool of Fame (New York, Random House, 1999) 
4. Charles Du Bos, Byron and the Need of Fatality ( New York: Haskell House of Publishers, 1932) page 194

March 23, 1812: Bill Respecting Bankrupt Members

On March 23, 1812,  the Bill Respecting Members Who Become Bankrupts came for a second reading in the British House of Commons. The bill would force a bankrupt Member of Parliament to vacate his seat.  The bill was discussed on March 16, 1812. The British House of Commons maintains a vestige of this law in that Members of Parliament who become bankrupt or an equivalent status must vacate their seats. The vote was close with 22 for and 19 against the bill. One of the persons to speak against the bill was William Lamb, who would become prime minister, and is married to Lady Caroline Lamb. The debate of March 23, 1812 is reproduced below. 

March 23 1812: News of French Sinking American Ships

On March 23, 18123, news arrives that France has sunk American ships carrying flour to British troops in Spain. Many in Congress  now call for war against France. The incident is seen by many as further proof that France has not repealed the Berlin and Milan Decrees. Henry Adams [1] describes the meeting between an angry American Secretary of State Monroe and the French Ambassador, Louis Charles Barbe Serurier, as a result of the news: 

March 23 1812: Execution for Treason Reported

On March 23, 1812, the Leeds Intelligencer published an article describing the hanging of William Cundell and John Smith on March 16, 1812 for high treason. This will be the last public execution for high treason in Britain.  Cundell and Smith were British sailors who had been captured by the French in the Isle of France (Mauritius). Apparently, they and about fifty others assisted the French forces while they were held captive.  The allegation is that they acted as "sentinels" or as some sort of prison guards. When the British retook the island, Cundell, Smith and eight others surrendered and threw themselves upon the "mercy" of the British government. Mistake!!! The other thirty-eight sailors left with the French. Cundell, Smith and five others were tried and found guilty of high treason but only Cundell and Smith were sentenced to be hanged. The other five were pardoned to be transported to the colonies. The attorney general decided not to pursue the charges against the other five. The other sailors were probably just as guilty. They escaped punishment because the execution of Cundell and Smith was thought to be a sufficient. In short, Cundell and Smith lost a deadly lottery and were executed to send a message of  deterrence to the other sailors and soldiers. The trial judge stated as much:  

March 23 1812: Brock to Lord Liverpool

On March 23, 1812 Sir Isaac Brock of Upper Canada writes to Lord Liverpool concerning the recent session of the legislature of Upper Canada [1]. Lord Liverpool is the Secretary of State for War and the Colonies in Spencer Perceval's Tory government. He will succeed Perceval as Prime Minister when he is assassinated in May 1812. Brock is still smarting from the legislature's refusal to suspend the Habeas Corpus and take other steps that he thinks necessary to deal with the coming war.  Brock writes: — 
 "My observations convinced me of the expediency of every militiaman taking an oath abjuring every foreign power. The many settlers from the United States who openly profess a determination of not acting against their countrymen, made some test highly necessary. The number of aliens emigrating from the United States, who have acquired property and consequently votes for the Assembly, alarmed at the novelty of an oath of abjuration, exerted their utmost efforts and ultimately succeeded (so extensive is the influence of these people that it even masters the Legislature), in preventing by the casting vote of the chairman, the adoption of this. A bill for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus was also defeated by their influence. Liable to the constant inroads of the most abandoned characters who seek impunity in this province from crimes of high enormity committed in the States and surrounded by a population, a great part of which profess strong American feelings and attachments, it will not, I hope, be deemed unreasonable at a time like the present, if I should be desirous to be clothed, in conjunction with His Majesty's Executive Council, with the means so well calculated to maintain public tranquillity." 


1.  Colonel E. A. Cruikshank, A Study of Disaffection in Upper Canada in 1812-5. (Ottawa: Royal Society of Canada ), page 19

March 22, 1812: Jefferson to Van der Kemp

On March 22, 1812, Thomas Jefferson writes to François Adriaan van der Kemp (May 4 1752 - 1829) who was a Dutch scholar who had immigrated to New York. Van der Kamp corresponded with many prominent people of his time including John Adams, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Hamilton. The  letter  of  Thomas Jefferson to Van Der Kemp is reproduced below. 

March 22 1812: Leigh and John Hunt Libel the Prince Regent

Leigh Hunt
On March 22, 1812, Leigh Hunt and his brother, John, publish an article written by Leigh under the title “The Prince on St. Patrick’s Day.” The article is a scathing response to the sycophantic encomium to the Prince Regent that had been published by the Morning Post on March 19, 1812. Leigh Hunt's article is a  thundering sarcastic hammer that destroys every phrase of praise that the Morning Post had used with respect to the Prince. Hunt writes, in part, as follows:

March 22 1812: Frances Burney's Pre-anesthetic Mastectomy

Frances Burney, 1785
On March 22, 1812, Frances d'Arblay begins to write a letter to her older sister, Esther,  recounting her radical mastectomy that had taken place nine months earlier, performed without anesthetic, in Paris by Baron Dominique Jean Larrey, Chief Surgeon to Napoleon's Grande Army.  Larrey had  learned his skills as Chief Surgeon in Napoleon's battlefields [1].  In March, 1812, he has been given orders by Napoleon to join the Grand Army as it begins to move east to war with Russia. 

Madam d'Arblay was born Frances Burney on June 13, 1752 in England. She was known as Fanny Burney and was an accomplished writer publishing novels and plays. In her youth, she had known Dr. Samuel Johnson and served in the Court of George III. In 1793 she married General Alexandre-Jean-Baptiste Piochard d'Arblay, a French exile who had fled to England after the French Revolution. In 1802, they had moved back to France remaining until 1812.

In 1810, Fanny had discovered a large lump in her right breast. The doctors feared that it was cancerous. After other treatments failed, surgery was recommended. Fanny hesitated but finally agreed in September of 1811. She provided written consent to her doctors. Arrangements were made to keep her husband and son away. Fearing the worse, she also  wrote farewell letters to them and prepared her will [2].

On September 30, 1811, she is waiting in her room and is given some wine by one of her doctors. This will be the only anaesthetic that she is to receive. She again waits. Then suddenly at three o'clock in the afternoon her doctors and assistants, "7 Men in black, Dr Larry, M. Dubois, Dr Moreau, Dr Aumont, Dr Ribe, & a pupil of Dr Larry, and another of M. Dubois", enter her room. There are also two nurses.

The doctors begin to prepare for the operation. Fanny describes how she felt:  
I stood suspended, for a moment, whether I should not abruptly escape - I looked at the door, the windows - I felt desperate - but it was only for a moment, my reason then took the command, & my fears & feelings struggled vainly against it. I called to my maid - she was crying, & the two Nurses stood, transfixed, at the door. Let those women all go! cried M. Dubois. This order recovered me my Voice - No, I cried, let them stay-! qu'elles restent (“Let them remain!”)!
After further preparations, Fanny places herself on the bed and a "cambric" handkerchief is placed on her face. The handkerchief is transparent so she sees "the glitter of polished steel". Minutes of excruciating silence follow as she again waits. She sees Doctor Dubois use his  forefinger first in a straight line across her breast, then a cross and lastly a circle, indicating the whole breast is to be removed. She waits. Then she feels "torturing pain" as the operation begins:
Yet - when the dreadful steel was plunged into the breast - cutting through veins - arteries - flesh - nerves - I needed no injunctions not to restrain my cries. I began a scream that lasted unintermittingly during the whole time of the incision - & I almost marvel that it rings not in my Ears still! so excruciating was the agony. When the wound was made, & the instrument was withdrawn, the pain seemed undiminished, for the air that suddenly rushed into those delicate parts felt like a mass of minute but sharp & forked poniards, that were tearing the edges of the wound - but when again I felt the instrument - describing a curve - cutting against the grain, if I may so say, while the flesh resisted in a manner so forcible as to oppose & tire the hand of the operator, who was forced to change from the right to the left - then, indeed, I thought I must have expired.
The operation lasts three hours and forty-five minutes. Fanny's right breast was entirely removed. Barron Larrey described his patient as having "un Grand courage." Fanny recovered and will live for twenty-nine more years.

Her complete description of the operation can be found here. It is the bravest thing that I have ever read. I have reproduced some excerpts below:  

March 21 1812: Orders in Council, the Duchess and Byron

On March 21, 1812, Augustus Foster, the British Minister in America, advises that the British will not be repealing the Orders in Council. War is now almost certain. The effect of Foster's information is described by Henry Adams [1] in his inimitable style as follows:
"Matters stood thus till March 21, 1812, when Washington was excited by news that Foster had received recent instructions from his Government, and the crisis of war an peace was at hand. "The anxiety and curiosity of both Houses of Congress," reported Foster, April 1, "to know the real nature of the despatches was so great that some of the members on committees told me they could not get the common routine of business at all attended to. The Department of State was crowded with individuals endeavouring to obtain information from Mr. Monroe, while I was questioned by all those with whom I happened to be acquainted." A report spread through Washington that the Orders in Council were repealed, and an immediate accommodation of all differences between England and the United States might be expected. 
Foster would have been glad to find his new instructions composed in such a sense; but he hardly expected to find them so positive as they were in an opposite spirit....This usual formal by which diplomacy,  was reinforced by secret instructions warning Foster cautiously to "avoid employing any suggestions of compromise to the American government which might induce them to doubt the sincerity or firmness of his Majesty's government in their determination, already announced, of maintaining steadfastly the system of defence adopted by them until the enemy  shall relinquish his unwarrantable mode of attack upon our interests though the violation of neutral rights. 
Foster regard this order as a rebuke, for he had talked freely, both to his own Government and in Washington, of the possibility that the Orders in Council might be withdrawn. The warning gave him a manner more formal than usual when he went, March 21, to assure Monroe that the Price Regent would never give way. Monroe listened with great attention; "then merely said, with however considerable mildness of tone, that he had hoped his conversations with me at the early part of the session would have produced a different result."  Foster left him without further discussion, and announced everywhere in public that, "far from being awed and alarmed at the threatening attitude and language" of Congress, his Government would maintain its system unimpaired." 

In England, Augustus's mother, Elizabeth the Duchess of Devonshire, wrote to her son in March of 1812. Augustus' father was not the Duke of Devonshire. Rather, his father had been John Thomas Foster, who had raised him after his parents had separated. It was in May 1782 that Elizabeth first met the Duke and became his mistress. The Duke then moved Elizabeth into Devonshire House where she continued to live for some twenty-five years together with the Duke's then wife, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. It was only three years after Georgiana's death that  Elizabeth married the Duke in 1809 and became Duchess of Devonshire.

Elizabeth's letter of March to her son concerns the events in London, including the latest literary sensation Lord Byron. Augustus will also have  connection to Byron. Before leaving for America, he unsuccessfully had courted Anne Isabella Milbanke, who is to become Byron's wife. Byron is to meet Anne Isabel Milbanke for the first time on March 25, 1812 at a party given by Lady Caroline Lamb.

March 21, 1812: Jefferson Plants Almonds and Writes

Sweet Almond Tree
On March 21, 1812, Thomas Jefferson, before or after he had planted twenty-four sweet almond kernels that he had received from his friend George Divers, sat down to write a letter to Charles Christian.  

Jefferson is writing to Charles Christian to explain why he cannot send support to the family of the late Mr. Cheetham of New York. I cannot be certain, but the letter may refer to James Cheetham, the editor of the American Citizen who had died in 1810.  James Cheetham, born in Manchester, had an eventful career as editor, polemicist and writer. Cheetham was a strong supporter of the Republican party. He became a fierce critic of  Aaron Burr publishing highly inflammatory sexual slurs against Burr accusing him of being a libertine, engaging prostitutes and participating in orgies. Later, Cheetham became disillusioned with the Republicans. At the end of his life, he published a Life of Thomas Paine that was highly critical of the philosopher and represented a renunciation of much of what he had previously believed.  Cheetham died on October 1, 1810,  after contracting malaria, leaving little for his family partly  as a result of having been involved in nearly thirty libel cases as editor of the American Citizen [1]. In the circumstances, one can see why Thomas Jefferson would not want his name associated with that of James Cheetham.   The letter of March 21, 1812 is reproduced below:

March 20, 1812: Penitentiary Bill and Bentham`s Panopticon

On March 20, 1812, the House of Commons, sitting in committee, discussed a Penitentiary House Bill derived, in part, from Jeremy Bentham's plan for a prison based on his panopticon system. Bentham had been trying to interest various governments in his plans for quite some time. The idea behind the panopticon was to construct a building or institution that would allow an observer at the center to observe all the persons or inmates in the building without being seen. Bentham believed that the principle of the panopticon had general application and could be used in hospitals, schools and especially prisons. In 1799, Bentham had been able the get the government to help him purchase land in Millbank, Pimlico, London to build such a penitentiary. Thereafter, various changes in government resulted in nothing much being done until 1811-12 when the Tory government again considered a new national penitentiary. A bill was proposed and dealt with on March 20, 1812 where opposition to some aspects of Bentham's plan were articulated. Bentham never did get his panopticon prison though a national prison was built on the Millbank site. Bentham was paid some £23,000 and the title to the land that he had purchased was transferred to the Crown in October, 1813. For more information on Bentham see here

March 20 1812: Death of Dussek

J. L. Dussek
On March 20, 1812, Jan Ladislav Dussek died of gout. Dussek was a Czech composer, pianist and favourite of Marie Antoinette and Talleyrand. He may have also met a young Napoleon during his time in France.  Dussek introduced a number of innovations but was later overshadowed by Beethoven. One interesting "innovation" credited to Dussek  is that he is reported to have been the first concert pianist to have placed the piano sideways allowing the audience to view his profile. Dussek led an extremely interesting life, as noted Edward Rothstein in a review in the New York Times in 1983:  

March 20 1812: London Theatre Bill Killed

Burning of the Drury Lane Theatre, 1809
On March 20, 1812, the Members of Parliament that favoured the Drury Lane Theatre succeed in thwarting a bill to create a second rival theatre in the City of London. The Drury Lane Theatre had been owned by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, playwright, poet and Whig  Member of Parliament. It was operating under heavily debts when it burned down on February 24, 1809.  Samuel Whitbread then led a committee to oversee the rebuilding the theatre. Prominent supporters, such as Lord Holland, also passed the Drury Lane Theatre Bill through parliament to support the reconstruction. The new Drury Lane Theatre, designed by Benjamin Dean Wyatt, opened on October 10, 1812. It was operated in a new way with the theatre's manager, Samuel Arnold, reporting to a Committee of Gentlemen to try avoid the financial mismanagement of the past.   

Richard Brinsley Sheridan
The debate of March 20, 1812, in the House of Commons, is reproduced below. It appears that the debate of the London Theatre Bill was adjourned and may not have come back before the House of Commons again.

March 20 1812: Dolley Madison Writes to Her Sister Anna

Dolley Madison had three sisters, Anna, Lucy and Mary. She was especially close to Anna who she called her "sister-daughter". On March 20, 1812, Dolley Madison is writing to Anna about the upcoming marriage of their sister Lucy to Thomas Todd, an Associate Supreme Court Justice. Lucy had first married Major George Steptoe Washington, a nephew of George Washington, who had died on January 10, 1809. Lucy will marry Thomas Todd on  on March 29, 1812 in the first wedding to take place in the White House. Nine days earlier, Dolley Madison writes to Anna the following letter [1]

March 19 1812: Baynes to Brock

Sir Isaac Brock
On March 19, 1812, Colonel Edward Baynes, on the staff of Sir George Prévost in Lower Canada, again writes to Major General Brock in Upper Canada:
QUEBEC, March 19, 1812.
     I regret to find by your late letters to Sir George Prevost, that your expectations from your legislature have not been realised to the extent of your well grounded hopes. Sir  George, who is well versed in the fickle and untractable disposition of public assemblies, feels more regret than disappointment. 

He has a very delicate card to play with his house of assembly here, who would fain keep up the farce of  being highly charmed and delighted with his amiable disposition and affable manners: they have even gone the length of asserting, that these traits in his character have afforded them the most entire confidence that in his hands the  alien act would not be abused. They have, however, taken the precaution of stripping it of its very essence and spirit, while last year they passed it without a division, when Sir  James, (Craig,) on whose mild and affable disposition they did not pretend to rely, told them that it could only alarm such as were conscious of harbouring seditious designs. They have passed an amendment to the militia bill, which, though not affording all that was required, is still a material point gained. 2,000 men are to be ballotted to serve for three months in two successive summers; one of their strongest  objections was the apprehension of the Canadians contracting military habits and enlisting into the service.

March 19, 1812: Morning Post on the Maecenas of the Age

On 19 March 1812, the Morning Post published an article that was sycophantic in its praise of the Prince Regent. The Prince was referred to as "the Protector of the Arts’, the ‘Maecenas of the Age’, the ‘Glory of the People’, and an ‘Adonis of Loveliness, attended by Pleasure, Honour, Virtue and Truth’. The article represents a counter-attack by the Tory press, on behalf of the Prince Regent, in response to Whig attacks in the press.  The Whigs had been able to marshal a quite impressive number of poets on their side. These poets included Lord Byron with `Lines to a Weeping Lady`,  Thomas Moore with a `Parody of a Celebrated Letter`and Charles Lamb with the `Triumph of the Whale.` The Morning Post`s article was to draw the most scathing attack on the Prince with the article by Leigh Hunt to be published on March 22, 1812. That article resulted in the prosecution and conviction for libel of the Hunt brothers.
The political conflict surrounding the Prince Regent was reaching a fever pitch on March 19, 1812. On that day there was a lengthy debate in the House of Lords dealing with the Prince Regent`s letter to his brother, the Duke of York, of February 13, 1812. That letter had been meant to be conveyed to Lords Grey and Grenville, the Whig leaders, asking the Whigs to join the Tory government. The Prince anticipated that the Whigs would reject the offer so that he could continue with the Tory government. A unity government was unacceptable to the Whigs because it would mean compromising their positions, including, most fundamentally, their support for Catholic Emancipation. In the House of Lord, Grey basically accused the Prince Regent of having broken his promise with respect to supporting Catholic rights. In his speech, Grey alluded to the "existence of an unseen and separate influence which lurked behind the throne" of an "odious character" that was incompatible with the constitution and the best interests of the country.

March 18 1812: Samuel Whitbread presents Petition

On March 18, 1812, Mr. Samuel Whitbread presented a petition from the inhabitants of Bolton-in-the-Moors seeking parliamentary reform with respect to representation. Of interest, is that they tied reform to the economic difficulties that they were experiencing and the ongoing wars with Napoleon's France.