It was quite a few chapters ago now, but Landon did study the War of 1812 in his US History course. Exploring America gave an excellent overview of how the conflict started and flared up, and described the fighting on various fronts. I don't remember learning much about the War of 1812 when I was in high school, although I was very familiar with the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky. But that was written to commemorate Russia's defense against invasion by Napoleon, so what did that have to do with the United States? I had no idea. I'm sure we did learn about the North American battles of 1812, since several took place at the Canadian border, so perhaps my memory of what we studied is to blame. In any case, I am much better informed about the War of 1812 as a home educator!
A brief summary of what was covered in this chapter:
Britain and France were at war, but the goal of American foreign policy was to remain neutral. The US continued commerce with both nations for some time, as American ships were usually able to penetrate the blockades. However, Britain took a more high-handed approach and started setting up patrols outside American ports, and seized vessels on the open sea that they suspected of carrying cargo to France. British captains even pressed sailors into service. After more conflicts and the failed Embargo Act, and increasing concerns about Indian attacks on American settlers in the Northwest Territory, which many Americans believed were encouraged by the British, President Madison asked Congress for a declaration of war against Great Britain. Congress voted to declare war on June 18, 1812, but not unanimously. New Englanders were strongly opposed to the war.
The American army was small and its officers were aging. The land assaults against Canada failed, partly because many state militiamen refused to cross the border. British troops took Detroit and gained control over the Great Lakes. The American Navy was also badly outnumbered, but their one-on-one naval strategy was largely successful. American privateers were effective on Lake Erie, and the British were defeated near Detroit in 1813.
In 1814, the British failed in an assault aimed toward New York City, and later they attacked Washington, D.C. The British burned many buildings, including the White House, but President Madison escaped. The British moved on to Baltimore, but were unable to dislodge the Americans despite their fierce bombardment of Fort McHenry. After this failure, the British fleet withdrew. Fighting continued in the south, with Andrew Jackson gaining important victories. Jackson was also able to defeat the British attempt to invade New Orleans, but this decisive victory happened after the war was officially over! Overall, the War of 1812 was indecisive in military terms, but the US gained a lot in terms of national pride and self-confidence, and its place in the world as a strong and independent nation was established.
|The Star-spangled Banner displayed at Fort McHenry.|
And what does all of that have to do with my title for this lesson? The Star-Spangled Banner was a poem written by attorney Francis Scott Key as he watched the British bombardment of Fort McHenry from a ship in the Baltimore harbor. Key was negotiating for the release of a friend that had been taken prisoner by the British. After 25 hours of bombing, as dawn broke, Key was able to see that the fort still stood, and that the flag was still flying over it. He wrote the first stanza of the poem while still on the ship, and added the other verses later on. The poem was set to the tune of a popular English song and was made the national anthem in 1931. Fort McHenry is now a National Monument, and we had the privilege of visiting several years ago. We happen to live near Terra Rubra, where Francis Scott Key was born, and many local towns, roads, schools, businesses and even sports teams are named in his honor.
|The (new) flag flying over Fort McHenry.|
|Barracks inside Fort McHenry|
|View of Baltimore's harbor from Fort McHenry - yes, those are the ramparts!|
|Learning about the Star-Spangled Banner with a full-size replica.|
At Fort McHenry in 2009.
Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
|Francis Scott Key - poet and patriot|
What subject have you learned more about as a homeschool parent? Did you know any of this stuff about the War of 1812? Leave a comment and let me know, and link up your posts about homeschooling high school here. Visit your neighbors and leave some encouraging comments!
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