The War of 1812!

Even though it’s 2013, the War of 1812 was more or less underway from 1812-1814, so I didn’t totally miss the anniversary. (Really? Wars have anniversaries now? Aren’t anniversaries supposed to be celebrations and wars… not?)

ANYHOW, Things I Want To Share About The War Of 1812 include:

1) The first time I encountered some Canadians (in the wilds of a school cafeteria), they shared a beautiful song with me called “The War of 1812” by the Arrogant Worms:

We got off to a great start on our friendship, me and Canadians. Seriously, why are you such haters? Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s adorable. But so much with the hate!

2) I find postage stamps endlessly fascinating. Check them out:

War of 1812



America-land: When I ask for the “War of 1812” stamps, the clerk always goes “You mean the U.S.S. Constitution?” No, I mean the War of 1812!

3) Caroline Abbott is an American Girl Doll whose dad is totally kidnapped by Canadian (British) pirates! The link goes to a lesson plan developed by the Smithsonian and MATTEL. Ah-mazing.

4) Sir Isaac Brock:


According to Sunnie Rothenburger, “Brock’s heroism is highlighted, but the biography that comes with the toy, which frames his Native allies as ‘helpers’ only, is never questioned.”

‘Nuff said.

5) I have an ongoing exchange with totally rad Professor Emeritus Desmond Morton of McGill University about how the Americans won the War of 1812 (don’t get mad, Judith! Rhetoric is a fascinating thing to study – I am not saying if the British / Canadians / America-landers won or lost, but that looking at the aftermath is informative and enlightening precisely because of the claims on either side.). Really, as Morton points out, the people who really lost were the Native allies in the conflict. Or the Indigenous peoples living anywhere in North America. In response to his detailed, nuanced, well-cited arguments in his lengthy letters, I have sent him a music video, postage stamps, a figurine, and an American Girl doll catalog.

I might be the worst correspondent ever. Then again, he keeps writing me back, so maybe I’m not. :-)

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3 Responses to The War of 1812!

  1. Judith Hazlett says:

    Your correspondent, the notable professor, is, of course, right that the First Nations lost the most, but I have recently come to my senses on this subject, with the realization that a war fought with swords and pistols is no less bloody than one fought with the latest equipment, and the War of 1812 was just another incidence of “the-rich-white-men-make-decisions-while-everyone-else-suffers history” of both Canada and the U.S.A..
    Living in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, I am surrounded by buildings bearing little plaques that attest to former use by Canada’s first primeminister, Sir John A. Macdonald, or his mother or his brother-in-law or his dentist. Frankly, I find it all a little tiring – knowing that the country was built on the backs of a lot of other people, who are apparently too humble to be mentioned. And when I think of the horrors of the War of 1812, I just can no longer get excited. Like all wars, there were no winners, except for those few rich white men.

    • AMANDA! says:

      Well said, Judith. I think this is one reason why social history is so important – whose story gets told? Who gets commemorated with plaques? (Dentists, apparently!) I’ll be talking about this with a friend’s history class next Tuesday, so thanks for your timely comments! (That being said, I’m currently marking essays about why World War II was better than World War I, so there is a long road ahead for social history among the younger set of aspiring historians!)

    • AMANDA! says:

      Thought you might like to know that there are initiatives in social history to reclaim “unofficial” histories, such as this conference:
      Change is happening, however slowly!

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