War Hawks Span the Centuries

This painting depicts the HMS Shannon closing on the American frigate Chesapeake. Painting by R. Dodd, 1813, courtesy of U.S. Library of Congress.

Virginia Congressman John Randolph coined the term war hawk to refer to those in favor of going to war with Britain at the beginning of the 19th century. The term “war hawks” is still used today to characterize those advocating war as an appropriate response in conflict situations.