War Hawk, or simply hawk, is a term used in politics for someone
favouring war in a debate over whether to go to war, or whether to
continue or escalate an existing war.
War hawks are the opposite of
doves. The terms are derived by analogy with the birds of the same
name: hawks are predators that attack and eat other animals, whereas
doves mostly eat seeds and fruit and are historically a symbol of
1 Historical group
2 Variations of the term
3 See also
Henry Clay, one of the most significant members of the
The term "
War Hawk" was coined by the prominent
John Randolph of Roanoke, a staunch opponent of entry into the
1812. There was, therefore, never any "official" roster of
as historian Donald Hickey notes, "Scholars differ over who (if
anyone) ought to be classified as a
War Hawk." One scholar believes
the term "no longer seems appropriate". However, most historians
use the term to describe about a dozen members of the Twelfth
Congress. The leader of this group was Speaker of the House Henry Clay
John C. Calhoun
John C. Calhoun of
South Carolina was another notable War
Hawk. Both of these men became major players in American politics for
decades. Other men traditionally identified as
War Hawks include
Richard Mentor Johnson
Richard Mentor Johnson of Kentucky, William Lowndes of South Carolina,
Langdon Cheves of South Carolina,
Felix Grundy of Tennessee, and
William W. Bibb
William W. Bibb of Georgia.
The President set the legislative agenda for Congress, providing
committees in the House of Representatives with policy recommendations
to be introduced as bills on the House floor.
Variations of the term
In modern American usage "hawk" means a fierce advocate for a cause or
policy, such as "deficit hawk" or "privacy hawk".
The term also created the term "chicken hawk", referring to a war hawk
who avoided military service.
The term liberal hawk is a derivation of the traditional phrase, in
the sense that it denotes an individual with "socially liberal"
inclinations coupled with an aggressive outlook on foreign policy.
Look up wargasm in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
^ a b Eaton, Clement (1957).
Henry Clay and the Art of American
Politics. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company. p. 25.
^ Donald Hickey, The
War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict (Urbana,
Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1989), p. 334n.8.
^ Daniel M. Smith, The American Diplomatic Experience (Boston, 1972)
^ Stagg, J.C.A. (1976), "James Madison and the "Malcontents": The
Political Origins of the
War of 1812", The William and Mary Quarterly,
33 (4): 557–585, doi:10.2307/1