I mentioned a few weeks ago that the bicentennial of the War of 1812 is now underway. To be specific it began on June 18, the anniversary of President Madison’s signing of the Declaration of War against Britain. Americans so far have not paid much attention to this milestone, probably because the war was such a politically, militarily, and morally ambiguous episode in our nation’s history. Even the name of the conflict is unhelpful; General Andrew Jackson stopped the British at the Battle of New Orleans in January 1815. North of the border it is a different story. The Canadian government is going all out to mark the event. In all the articles I have read so far in my crash course on the war by far the most thoughtful is this piece by Jon Wells. The best way to think of the war is an an international event, especially as part of the Napoleonic Wars. When the war ended America’s westward expansion also began in earnest. No less than six states joined the Union between 1816 and 1821, the last being Missouri (1821) after the Compromise of 1820. We all know what that helped eventually lead to.

Thankfully, the New York State Museum has created a website to recognize the Empire State’s significant role in the war.

(image courtesy MJC Detroit/Perry’s Victory and Internation Peace Memorial, South Bass Island, Ottawa County, Ohio)