Let the Bicentennial Begin

Image via Erie Maritime Museum/Flagship Niagara League

The War of 1812. It’s sometimes called a forgotten war, and it’s certainly one of the least understood in U.S. history (although I’ve learned more about it from working with the folks at Erie Maritime Museum and Flagship Niagara). But it was a formative period in our nation’s history (and not just because it gave us “The Star-Spangled Banner”). Many U.S. cities and states (not to mention Canada) are marking the 200th anniversary of the war; in Pennsylvania the primary focus is in Erie, where most of the US Navy’s Great Lakes ships were built. On June 18, the Erie Maritime Museum hosted an event to commemorate the 1812 declaration of war and President James Madison’s proclamation the following day.

Rev. Shawn Clerkin reads Pres. Madison's Proclamation of War
photo by Linda Bolla

Over the course of the next few years, there will be all kinds of events (watch for a bicentennial celebration of the Battle of Lake Erie next fall, for example). This fall, on Columbus Day (Oct. 8), the Pennsylvania Council for History Education (PCHE) will hold its annual history conference in Erie, with a focus on the War of 1812. PHMC is one of the sponsors, and staff at Erie Maritime Museum are involved in the program. The conference is open to educators and the general public. (If you’re looking for other educational resources, you might be interested in the 2005 curriculum packet developed by Erie Maritime, “Remembering and Teaching America’s Forgotten War of 1812,” which is available for download here.)

ADDED 6/26/12: Local coverage and great background info here.

FUN FACT: there’s an old story I haven’t pinned down that iron produced at Cornwall Iron Furnace was used in building Niagara. We CAN say that 1812 was a very productive time at the furnace, and iron smelted there likely ended up in use for the US war effort, whether or not it made its way to Erie for the Great Lakes naval fleet.

In other news, Ephrata Cloister recently received word from TripAdvisor that the site has been awarded a Certificate of Excellence for 2012 with an overall rating of 4.5 (out of 5 of whatever those circle things are on TripAdvisor). You can search for your favorite Trails of History site on TripAdvisor here (and if you feel so inclined, provide a rating and review based on your experience with us).

And Eckley Miners’ Village shared photos of Patch Town Days here.


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