Check out this fascinating item from NPR on the differences between teaching the War of 1812 in U.S. schools and teaching it in Canada. A teacher in Utah spends “a couple of days” on the war, with doses of the national anthem and Johnny Horton. A teacher in Ontario, by contrast, devotes “three to four weeks” to it.
Three to four weeks! As a pre-Civil War kind of guy, I’d love to have that much time for early American subjects in my survey classes.
Canadian units on the war aren’t just longer. They’re qualitatively different, full of important victories and heroic characters like Laura Secord. You’ve never heard of Laura Secord? Don’t sweat it; neither had I, and I’m supposed to have a master’s degree in this kind of stuff.
Here are a few other items from around the Interwebs on the War of 1812 and the way we remember it—or fail to:
- One reason our memory is selective might be because America didn’t come out of the war’s first two years looking particularly good.
- Donald Hickey is editing a series of books on the war for John Hopkins University Press.
- Baltimore kicked off the bicentennial with maritime festivities…
- …and hosted a ceremony where reps from the U.S., Britain, and Canada buried the hatchet. I’m still not forgiving them for Russell Brand.
- Finally, a Pennsylvania schoolteacher and his students suggest that we should re-christen the conflict the “Second War of Independence.” Not bad, but maybe we could add a little Hollywood-style pizzazz. I’m thinking WI:2 or War of Independence 2: War Harder. Too bad The Empire Strikes Back is already taken.
…try a War of 1812 controversy on for size. A Chicago alderman’s remarks about the 1812 Battle of Ft. Dearborn are stirring up quite a ruckus.
If you’re going to be in Nashville between now and June 24, swing by the Tennessee State Museum and see the special bicentennial exhibit Becoming the Volunteer State: Tennessee in the War of 1812.
Nashville Scene has an article on the exhibit and Andrew Jackson’s role in the war.
Remember that one? Old Hickory, the White House on fire, the rockets’ red glare, and all that? The Wall Street Journal has an interesting piece on what folks are doing to commemorate it.
…to help preserve early American sites is an idea whose time has come. More info here.
Here are a few items of interest to digest along with your microwaved turkey remnants.
- Wilson Library at UNC-Chapel Hill is hosting an exhibit of old North Carolina textbooks and the bizarre material contained therein. The First Dixie Reader, published in Raleigh in 1863, extolled the idyllic lifestyle of the elderly female slave: “Many poor white folks would be glad to live in her house and eat what Miss Kate sends out for her dinner.”
- The bicentennial of the War of 1812 is approaching, and the bureaucrats in Albany, NY couldn’t care less.
- Some interesting stuff turned up when a bank employee opened up a box that had gone neglected.
- The fate of (what’s left of) the historic K-25 plant in Oak Ridge, TN is in dispute. The Department of Energy had promised to keep part of it intact, but now they want to tear down the whole thing.
- Think historic preservation doesn’t make economic sense? Think again.
I ran across a post suggesting some possible subjects for historical biopics. The LBJ idea is especially intriguing; I wouldn’t mind seeing a miniseries adaptation of Robert Caro’s work.
I’d also propose Frederick Douglass (great story), John Brown, Joseph Smith, and Daniel Boone as interesting film subjects. Boone’s life in particular is full of dramatic material; the deaths of his sons, the rescue of his daughter, his captivity, and his court-martial would all make for powerful scenes, and then you could wrap it up in melancholy fashion with his abandonment of the Kentucky for which he gave up so much and migration to Missouri.
Personally, though, what I’d really like to see is an Andrew Jackson biopic along the lines of Patton, depicting both his greatness and his faults. I’d start out with his boyhood in the Revolutionary Waxhaws and the beating he took for defying a British officer, and then flash forward to the War of 1812.
Either that, or just adapt David Nevin’s novel 1812 as a miniseries. I rarely read historical fiction—I don’t read much fiction at all, actually—but that was a genuinely great book, and anybody who could play Jackson the way Nevin managed to flesh him out would deserve a Golden Globe.