News / USA

US Marks 'Forgotten War' Bicentennial

To kick off the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, ships from around the world sailed past Fort McHenry and exchanged cannon fire with re-enactors on land, but it was all for show. (S. Logue/VOA)
To kick off the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, ships from around the world sailed past Fort McHenry and exchanged cannon fire with re-enactors on land, but it was all for show. (S. Logue/VOA)
Susan Logue
The cannons firing today at Fort McHenry in the U.S. state of Maryland, are for the benefit of tourists. But that wasn’t the case nearly 200 years ago, when more than a dozen British ships bombarded the fort at the entrance to Baltimore harbor.

"It was pouring down rain.  It was windy,” says Vincent Vaise, head historian for the fort. “Rockets [were] streaking over the fort, bombs exploding. You could hear the reverberations, the concussions around the fort.”

America's most famous struggle against the British occurred decades earlier during the War of Independence. Every Fourth of July Americans celebrate the Declaration of Independence, issued on July 4, 1776, which marked the beginning of the seven-year war.

The United States also waged another war against Britain during the War of 1812. Yet many Americans are unfamiliar with that conflict and its famous Battle of Baltimore. Now, as the United States marks the war's bicentennial, some historians, especially in Maryland, are eager to change that. 
US Preps for 'Forgotten War' Bicentenniali
|| 0:00:00
X
Susan Logue
June 27, 2012 5:00 PM
Many Americans are unfamiliar with the War of 1812 and the Battle of Baltimore. But as the bicentennial of the conflict approaches, some historians would like to change that. VOA's Susan Logue reports.

The Battle of Baltimore took place in 1814. The bombardment lasted 25 hours and was a turning point in the war that started two years earlier along the border with Canada.

“We thought they would love to be a part of the United States and throw off the yolk of English tyranny,” says Burt Kummerow, president of the Maryland Historical Society.  “But when [the Americans] actually attacked the British armies up there, they found out very quickly the Canadians weren’t so interested in being grabbed.”

There were other reasons the U.S. declared war on Britain. The British Navy was intercepting American vessels and seizing crew members to man its warships.

Baltimore, in particular, was a target,  “because Baltimore had a big reputation for being a real thorn in the side of the British merchant fleet," Kummerow says. "They were sending out privateers, because this was a great shipbuilding area. They were attacking the British.”

On September 13, 1814, British ships attacked Fort McHenry in a bid to take the city.

That battle is remembered largely thanks to Francis Scott Key, an American lawyer,  who was down river observing the action through a spy glass, as the sun began to rise.
It’s all about the flag at Fort McHenry in Maryland, where every day visitors unfold a large “star-spangled banner” as they listen to the story behind the US national anthem. (S. Logue/VOA)It’s all about the flag at Fort McHenry in Maryland, where every day visitors unfold a large “star-spangled banner” as they listen to the story behind the US national anthem. (S. Logue/VOA)
x
It’s all about the flag at Fort McHenry in Maryland, where every day visitors unfold a large “star-spangled banner” as they listen to the story behind the US national anthem. (S. Logue/VOA)
It’s all about the flag at Fort McHenry in Maryland, where every day visitors unfold a large “star-spangled banner” as they listen to the story behind the US national anthem. (S. Logue/VOA)

“He wasn’t sure who won the fight, and then he sees the huge flag waving over the fort, it was like, ‘Yes!’" Vaise says. "And he realizes that a powerful morale victory had been won, and he will write the words that became ‘The Star Spangled Banner.’”

Key’s handwritten homage to the national flag is on display at the Maryland Historical Society.  “He wrote lyrics to a song.  It wasn’t a poem; it was a song,” Kummerow says.

The tune had been around for 40 years, and was popular.  When paired with Key’s lyrics, Kummerow says, “It went viral.”

In 1931, when Congress decided the United States should have a national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner” was chosen.

Tourists come to Fort McHenry to hear the story behind the national anthem, but Vaise hopes they leave understanding another legacy of the war.

“We were no longer that former colony," he says. "We were this young and up-and-coming nation that was on the rise."
 
And the Star-Spangled Banner, both the flag and the anthem, became powerful, lasting symbols of that optimism.

You May Like

China Announces Corruption Probe into Senior Ex-Leader

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, being probed for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid