Today marks the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the War of 1812. As many observers of American history may remember, this conflict was about the intrusions of the British in the affairs of the United States in terms of international trade. Resulting also from the wish of the new nation to ensure its autonomy, the U.S. declared war on the British empire.
This war would rage on for 2 years. At that time, the British were the most formidable naval power in the world, and they would hand the newly formed United States some major defeats. The most notable being the capture of Washington, D.C. and burning down of the Capitol building and the White House. Though disheartening, the military victories of the former colonial master would not extend past this event. The tide turned as the Americans would make their stand against the British in the Battle of Baltimore.
The outcome of this war was a turning point in the history of the young nation, and was an affirming of America’s right to exist as a country. The successful holding of Fort McHenry in Baltimore was the inspiration for Francis Scott Key’s Star Spangled Banner, the national anthem.
To learn more about the War of 1812, go to the Smithsonian website for a timeline and key happenings of this conflict.
-Marc W. Polite