While perusing through Saturday’s copy of U.S.A. Today, I came across a front page article was on the one-hundredth anniversary of the beginning of The War of 1812. According to reporter Rick Hampton, Canadians see the conflict as its crucible of national identity. Americans, not so much. A reenactment of the Battle of Queenston Heights, the first major battle, will take place next week in Lewiston, New York, just across from the Niagara River. But unlike 200 years ago, they will be all Canadians.
While The War of 1812 became the stepping stone to Canada becoming a free nation, seceding from the British Empire and forming the sovereign nation they are today, Americans considered it a war to forget. We didn’t really win the War of 1812, we didn’t really lose it either. We did achieve the end of the practice of impressment, a popular British practice of taking people into the navy by force as many Americans were forced to serve in the King’s Navy. And in 1814, the final battle, The Battle of New Orleans where General Andrew Jackson (seventh president of the United States) led the U.S. Navy to victory.
Ultimately, The War of 1812 was the turning point where Great Brittan would make the transition from being our enemy to being or ally as they were in World War I, World War II, and the rest of the twentieth and twenty-first century wars and conflicts. Two generations plagued by The Viet Nam Conflict, which shifted attitudes of young Americans toward war more than any other military conflict in history (and rightfully so), and the uncertainty of the War in Iraq, which may be the one tragic flaw of the George W. Bush presidency ultimately leading to the election of Barrack Obama; and I give credit where credit is due, the killing of Osama Bin Laden and the end to combat action in Iraq did happen on his watch. The change in America’s perception of war among the generations may have a lot to do with why we are not into a War of 1812 Centennial Celebration.