Saturday, November 02, 2013

***Defense of A Nation- The Struggle Against British Imperialism-Part II-The War of 1812


The History Channel Presents: The War of 1812, two volumes, 2004

If you do not, like most people, know anything about the War of 1812-the so-called- ‘forgotten war’- or even if you are familiar with its details then this History Channel presentation will give you more than you will ever want to know about that event. I know, despite my intense love of the study of history, that I had had enough once I got through this two-volume four hours plus work. Mercifully it is broken up into sections so, for the faint-hearted, you can pick and choice. In any case, the section entitled "First Invasion" is must viewing to get an overall sense of the conflict.

So what is all the bother about? Well the short answer, very short, is that this war against old Mother England was the definitive moment when the seemingly improbable American victory announced to the world that fragile as the Republic was, and as isolated and uncomplicated its people that it was now a factor, if at that time a small factor, in the international scheme of things. Not bad for a ‘forgotten war’. Remember if the bloody British had been victorious America would have a name like, say, the United States of Canada.The History Channel’s presentation shows that this victory was a near thing. Suffering defeats, the torching of the capital, internal dissension and an apparently inevitable defeat at New Orleans after a peace treaty was signed this motley group of American yeomen and women broke through to preserve a slender democracy.

No look at the War of 1812 is complete without acknowledging the role of two men of opposing temperaments, James Madison, under whose presidency the issues became clarified and the causes of war outlined and Andrew Jackson whose victory at New Orleans sealed the fate of the country. By this last point I do not mean merely Jackson’s military victory but the rush toward a plebeian democracy that the forces who fought and supported the war unleashed. Later in the century the children and grandchildren of those fighters would be lost in the scramble to make America a capitalist fortress but back then the American world was young and fresh. Take a look.

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