The War of 1812 tour is now available on the Kentucky Historical Society’s Explore KY History app. If you haven’t downloaded this thing, let me once again recommend it to you. Most Americans probably associate the War of 1812 with the Chesapeake or the Gulf of Mexico, but Kentucky suffered more casualties in that conflict than all the other states combined.
Gov. Isaac Shelby as painted by Matthew Jouett, from the Kentucky Historical Society’s Hall of Governors via Wikimedia Commons
One of the most notable Kentucky vets was Isaac Shelby, who became the state’s first governor in 1792 and then ran for the same post twenty years later. Shelby didn’t throw his hat into the ring until less than a month before the 1812 gubernatorial election, and he was more than sixty years old.
He won handily anyway, partly because he’d already made a name for himself during the Rev War and Kentuckians were gearing up for another confrontation with England. (Shelby had led a regiment at King’s Mountain; in fact, he was one of the primary architects of the expedition that defeated Ferguson’s Tories.) In the summer of 1813 he took the field himself at the head of 3,500 volunteers who fought at the Battle of the Thames, thus seeing action in both of America’s wars with Britain.
The House of Representatives can now vote to allow the NPS to acquire important Revolutionary War and War of 1812 sites. Drop a line to your representative and tell him or her to support the American Battlefield Protection Program Amendments Act (H.R. 2489). It’ll only take you a few minutes.
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.