If I had been thinking, this might have been a great year to take Aidan up to Niagara Falls to see the falls and to learn a little bit about the War of 1812 from the British perspective. A few years ago, Pat and I went up there for a long weekend and also went to a local Anglican church for Sunday services--close enough to the Episcopal Church for comfort. We stayed for the coffee hour and were regaled about the evils of Americans during the War of 1812 in those parts. Good naturedly so. They were very nice people who thought it hilarious to tell these two Virginians about how awful their country had been.
What fun it would have been to take our little Russian into that mix!!! : )
Seriously, though, this old war was really an early rendition of a world war. Napolean was on the march in Europe; The Ottoman Empire was being taken down by the British and anyone who could lend a hand; Mexico was fighting Spain for it's independence. . .
The big battles that were fought, and which are now a part of the fabric of our identity: The Burning of York (Toronto-and of which tales our friends at the Anglican Church in Niagara regaled us with!) which led to the The Battle of Lake Erie.
After Napolean Bonaparte was captured and sent into exhile, the British had additional troops to commit to this cause of bringing the upstart Americans back under their thumb. And so they marched on Washington. They invaded our little capital and began burning everything in sight: The Presidents Mansion--which was really brick and sandstone at the time and later rebuilt and painted White then being called The White House, The Capital building, The Treasury and a host of other buildings. On the way back down the Potomac, they also captured Alexandria, but made a deal with the mayor so it was not burned. Back out in the Chesapeake Bay, they sailed north to Batimore and the next month found them fighting The Battle of Baltimore-which everyone knows about because this is when Francis Scott Key supposedly wrote our National Anthem. The Americans won this battle, as we know. But, ironically, the British were not just scared off by our might and fight but also by a hurricane that blew up the Chesapeake causing all kinds of havoc!
Interesting facts about the burning of Washington: It was, of course, in retaliation for the burning of York by the Americans. As most know, James and Dolly Madison took the Declaration of Independence, the American Constitution and the portraits of George and Martha Washington and fled west. . .to Leesburg, Virginia!!! Yes, folks. Our little town was the Provisional Capital of the United States for a short time during the War of 1812. Pat and I toured a Plantation House, Rokeby, several years ago, and saw the secret vault of the main house where our precious documents and portraits were stored. Pretty cool!!
The final big battle of this war was actually fought after the Treaty of Ghent ended the war--no one on this side of the pond knew about that treaty. The Battle of New Orleans was fought in early 1815. The Americans were led by Andrew Jackson in a decisive battle, even though he was outnumbered, and led to the final determination of our sovereignty.
And so, now on our Independence Day, we celebrate with fireworks to mark how we fought the Brits twice and won. And while watching said fireworks, we tend to listen to the War of 1812 Overture. . . which was actually written by Tchaikovsky to commemorate the Russians win over Napolean and the French in 1812. . .: )
And so, on Monday, June 18th, we will mark the 200th anniversary of the start of Mr. Madison's war, which is the date on which Congress agreed that this was a war worth fighting, to rid ourselves of the impressment of our navy and ships and to eliminate any future doubt about who we Americans are.
I now return you back to our regularly scheduled over filled summer of fun and sun.