The War That Gets No Respect

When it comes to the War of 1812, the ignorance depicted in the above video is no exaggeration.  Of all our major conflicts, our Second War For Independence is the most obscure to the general public.  In this bicentennial year of the beginning of the War, we will do our small bit on this blog to help correct this situation.   The War of 1812 was an important struggle in American history for a number of reasons, a few of which are:

1.      Until the War of 1812 the British tended to treat the United States as if it were a wayward colony that would ultimately become part of the British Empire again.  After the War the British understood that we were an independent power and a permanent factor in their calculations.

2.     The War established the United States Navy as an aggressive and resourceful combat force, unafraid to pit daring and skill against the massively more powerful Royal Navy.

3.     The War ended American dreams of conquering Canada.

4.     As a result of the War, the Indian tribes east of the Mississippi could no longer provide serious resistance to American expansion into the Northwest and the Southwest.

5.     The Star-Spangled Banner symbolized the new surge of nationalism that the country experienced as a result of the War.

6.     The War made Andrew Jackson a national hero and set him on his path to the White House, with ramifications still playing out today.

7.      Opposition to the War effectively destroyed the remnants of the Federalist party.

8.      The War solidified American control over New Orleans, and helped bring a wave of American settlement into Louisiana.

9.       Winfield Scott, the man who would lead American forces to victory in Mexico, and devised the blueprint for Union victory in the Civil War, first rose to the rank of General in the War.

10.       The War gave a strong impetus to the development of domestic industries to supply the military.

It is very difficult to understand American history in the crucial decades leading up to the Mexican and Civil Wars without understanding the almost forgotten, in the mind of the public, War of 1812.

Published in: on January 17, 2012 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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  1. Well said as always, Don. Particularly irritating to me is that our kids don’t get the true story about this war in history class if they visit it at all. My kids, given the stories of our family that they hear at home, have corrected more than one teacher on issues like the Battle of New Orleans and the Treaty of Ghent. Keep preaching the good word on this one!

  2. Thank you Pauline. Before I ran off to law school I obtained a BA in the teaching of social studies. It has long distressed me how poorly history, and particularly military history is taught. I had some fine history teachers when I was in high school, but appparently that breed has grown rarer. History is so full of drama and excitement and so many people tasked with teaching it seem to do their best to render it as dry as dirt and much more insipid. I salute all good history teachers and I wish those who aren’t would find some better way to earn a living.

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