The US declared war on Great Britain...again.
Yup, today is the day the War of 1812 started, the war that gets the short shrift in any and all public school history classes for two reasons:
1. Stuck between American Revolution and the Civil War, two popular wars for historians and students.
2. We damn near lost it.
The War of 1812 was our first ill-advised war. Granted the reasons were more compelling than the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. US Citizens were being impressed into the service of the British Navy, we couldn't trade with anyone in Europe without ticking off France (The Continental System) or Britain. I think it was finally at a point where the US had to say "Dammit! You all are being unreasonable! Dude, Britain, c'mon...you are being so uncool about us trading with the French and the Dutch. Fine, be that way, we're declaring war."
Now, granted if your reasons are sound, such as a naval base in Hawaii being attacked by surprise or insurgents fire upon a US Fort in Charleston Harbor after declaring themselves independent just so they could keep owning slaves, or trying to protect your rights in the face of two superpowers who are fighting each other, then ok I can give any country the benefit of the doubt on the wisdom of declaring war...but seriously we picked Britain?
The British Empire, the largest navy in the world at the time full of seasoned admirals and captains who had fought and learned their trade under Nelson? A British Army full of seasoned combat veterans who fought against the French? Are you bloody daft? Seriously why didn't we opt for France? Hell we could have beaten France. We could have told the English, "Dude, we have guns and ships. Give us 3 weeks and we'll have some people over to help." But noooooo. Jimmy Madison and the Congress picked Britain. That's a slam dunk there fellas.
What do we get:
The humiliating and sad defeat of the USS Chesapeake to the HMS Shannon in the Chesapeake Bay. :-( Booo.
USS Constitution capturing HMS Java. :-) Yay!
DC Burned in 1814 after a stunningly bad defense. The sitting Secretary of War...SITTING SECRETARY OF WAR...didn't believe the Brits would attack DC. Something he believed right up until the Battle of Bladensburg. We lost the entire Library of Congress in that fire!!! Fortunately for us Thomas Jefferson had a library of books and he needed to sell them to pay off some debts and hey...we needed a library! Two great tastes that go great together.
Another failed invasion of Canada. This makes the US 0-fer against Canadians.
A National Anthem. Okay not too shabby and it got Baltimore some everlasting press in the History books. I'll take that.
Andrew Jackson. Well I disagree with his Trail of Tears policy but his "If South Carolina even THINKS about leaving the US I will personally lead the army down there to kick your asses." policy speaks to me. If he hadn't won at New Orleans I don't think that threat would have carried the same weight. Also if you have a chance to see a movie called "The Buccaneer" see the 1950's version with Charlton Heston as Andrew Jackson. PERFECT CASTING! There's a scene where he comes in a room and basically yells, "What the hell is going on here!?!?!?" and I could see Jackson doing that.
The Treaty of Ghent. The only time Ghent ever gets any press in public school history. Sorry Ghent. Be glad you have this.
There are many more battles in here but these are the ones that stick out to me or are easiest to use for a cheap laugh in a blog. All in all we could have gotten away with not fighting this war, but it did tell the Brits that they couldn't keep pushing us around anymore. Americans can be a lot of trouble. Just ask Tony Blair.