Sunday, August 24, 2014

August 24, 1814: An American Bicentennial Day That No One Remembers

The big anniversary in American history these days is the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. About this time 150 years ago in Georgia, General Sherman was in the midst of taking Atlanta and "marching" to the sea at Savannah. It's still a delicate issue among many old-line families here and one that likely keeps them from realizing we are also in the midst of a bicentennial commemoration of another American war, the War of 1812. In fact, if we've had any commemorations of this event, they've been quiet. Still, I think it's important to keep the history alive, especially when it's exceptionally written. That happened yesterday in the Washington Post  in a fine article about an event no one remembers in a war no one remembers. It's about the day that the city of Washington burned at the hands of an invading British force of nearly 5000 "hardened fresh fighters from the Napoleonic wars." It's also a concise lesson about the War of 1812, a conflict many historians define as the Second American Revolution, a revolt that settled many dangling issues left over from the first one. Do enjoy.

N.B. I never pass on an opportunity to praise the Washington Post, a newspaper caught up in the decline of print media, but one that has retained a fine editorial page. Every now and then, the paper outdoes itself by producing the quality journalism it had at the hands of Katherine Graham and Ben Bradlee thirty years ago. Yesterday's article on the War of 1812 was on of those occasions. 

There was a time when I loved to get my hands on this paper and would drive miles to buy the Sunday edition. Perhaps those days will return with the new management.

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