Baltimore's "Sailabration" Honors the War of 1812

Tall ships and U.S. Navy vessels sailed into Baltimore Harbor past Fort McHenry to commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812

Square-riggers, schooners, and sleek gray warships from around the world converged on Baltimore the second week of June for the “Star Spangled Sailabration” commemorating the bicentennial of the War of 1812’s start.

“It’s finally here,” said Jeffrey Buchheit, director of the Baltimore Heritage Area and one of many who helped plan the week of festivities. “We’ve worked four years on this, and all of a sudden it’s here.” Read more »

The Last War Cruise Of Old Ironsides

From her chaplain’s diary comes this graphic story of the final sea battle of America’s famous frigate

Several years ago the Indiana University family voted to collect fines from professors who parked overtime on the campus. The money raised was turned over to the University library to buy additions to its special collections. Among the first purchases made, for the University’s War of 1812 Collection, was the manuscript journal which served as the basis for the story which is printed here.Read more »

Wilderness Ordeal

Two hundred and fifty years ago, Major Robert Rogers and his rangers launched a daring wilderness raid against an enemy village, but paid a steep price

A dozen miles north of the British fort of Crown Point on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain, amid the buttonbush, bulrush, and cattail wetlands that crowded Otter Creek’s delta, Maj. Robert Rogers glassed down the lake for the lateen sails of a patrolling enemy French sloop or schooner. Pulled into hiding within the marsh lay 17 whaleboats, each bearing eight oars and provisions for a month. It was Saturday, September 15, 1759, in the midst of the French and Indian War, the titanic struggle between the French and British empires for dominion over North America.Read more »

The Quietest War

We’ve kept Fallujah, but have we lost our souls?

The war in Iraq has been going on for three and a half years now. That’s about the same amount of time America spent fighting World War II. This seems almost impossible considering how firmly the Second World War is embedded in our collective memory. We have even come to think of an entire generation—The Greatest Generation—in terms of that struggle. Cliché or not, we can still see the sharp cut of their uniforms, and those sharp 1940s civvies, the way they wore their hair back then, the America they lived in.Read more »

The Warfare State

A scholar searches across two centuries to discover the main engine of our government’s growth—and reaches a controversial conclusion

Alexis de Tocqueville observed in 1835 that America had no neighbors and hence no enemies. Indeed, the New World Republic was the ultimate island power, with the Atlantic Ocean providing a protective moat nearly a hundred times as wide as the English Channel. The German philosopher Hegel, writing at about the same time as Toque, cited this isolation as one reason “a real State”—a powerful, centralized, European-style state—could never exist in America.Read more »

Build-down

After every war in the nation’s history, the military has faced not only calls for demobilization but new challenges and new opportunities. It is happening again.

Not many people appreciate a military base closing. Like the shutting of a factory, it can devastate nearby towns, throwing thousands of people out of work. Merchants face losses and even bankruptcy as sales fall off. Home-owners put their houses on the market at distress prices and sometimes simply walk away from their mortgages. Even long-established military centers are not immune; the current round of closings includes the Mare Island Naval Base near San Francisco, which has operated since 1854. Read more »

What It Was Like To Be Shot Up By ‘old Ironsides’

The fascinating contents of a newly discovered document of the War of 1812

THE AMERICAN frigate Constitution is preserved in Boston, where she was built and where she was launched in October 1797. She was one of a series of six splendid frigates built to defend American shipping on the high seas, and her adventurous life included some of the most dramatic actions of the war between Britain and America. The British claimed the right to stop and search American ships for deserters, and the United States resented this claim to act as a sort of universal policeman.Read more »

The Battle Of Lake Erie

"With half the western world at stake, See Perry on the middle lake.” —Nineteenth-century ballad

In the late summer of 1812 a Great Lakes merchant captain named Daniel Dobbins arrived in Washington. He had had a dreadful time getting there, and his journey could not have been made more pleasant by the fact that he was bringing some very bad news with him. Read more »

The Paradox Of Dartmoor Prison

While some American captives languished, others conducted a flourishing market—and a huge black sailor organized everything

Stark, mist-enshrouded Dartmoor prison has long held a fascination for those interested in British crime. Since 1850 many of England’s most notorious criminals have been condemned to labor on the bleak Devonshire moor seventeen miles from Plymouth, and crime enthusiasts and novelists have found the cold, lonely prison an exotic subject. However, for the generation that lived through the War of 1812 Dartmoor held a far different reputation.Read more »

Amnesty

Although the first recorded amnesty was proclaimed at Athens yi. in 403 B.C., American practice not unexpectedly derives from English usage. Beginning with Ethelbert, the sixth-century king of Kent, and continuing through succeeding monarchies, “the king’s mercy”—what Rlackstone called “the most amiable prerogative” of the British Crown—gradually became a settled part of English common law until it was recognized by parliamentary statute in the sixteenth century.

 

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