SHAKO: New War of 1812 Feature Starts This Month
“The Second American Revolution”
On this day in 1812, U.S. President James Madison sent a special message to Congress outlining the “injuries and indignities” visited on the young nation by the government of Great Britain – its former colonial ruler.
While steering clear of calling for war with one of the most power countries in the world, Madison noted British interference with U.S. commerce on the high seas, Britain’s kidnapping – they called it impressment – of American citizens to fill vacancies on the Royal Navy’s warships and reports that British interests in Canada were encouraging Indian tribes to attack American outposts on the Western frontier.
A few weeks later, Congress did, in fact, declare war on Britain – the first time they had ever done so – and what was then called the Second American Revolution against Britain began.
Over the last two centuries, the War of 1812 has been largely forgotten by Americans — except when we sing our national anthem, which commemorates a battle outside Baltimore in 1814.
The 4GWAR blog hopes to remedy some of that forgetfulness. Starting Monday, June 11, 2012 we will run a weekly post outlining what happened that week during the war 200 years earlier.
Our aim is for this feature to be more than just a review of fusty facts for history buffs. The War of 1812 remains relevant today. In addition to giving the United States the “Star Spangled Banner,”and its first declared war, this long-ago conflict raised issues — still being debated — about freedom of the seas, national sovereignty, a centralized government’s role in national security, what it means to be a U.S. citizen and the place of race, class and geographic region in our politics and culture.
We hope you’ll give this new feature a look on June 11, and find it worthwhile to come back to 4GWAR each Monday.
Your 4GWAR Editor
SHAKO is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military history, traditions and culture. For the uninitiated, a shako is the tall, billed headgear worn by many armies from the Napoleonic era to about the time of the American Civil War. It remains a part of the dress or parade uniform of several military organizations like the corps of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York.