tv [untitled] April 15, 2012 10:30am-11:00am EDT
conquering canada was just a matter of marching? >> it seems to me manifest destiny probably dates from 1607, the founding of jamestown. the westward movement goes back to the beginning of the colonial era. yes, we're an ex passionistic nation at this time, and there were many particularly in the west who hoped if we did conquer canada, we would keep it. among those was henry clay in 1813. even though he himself conceded at the same time that canada was the means rather than the end. sure, there were those who wanted to keep canada. and this really increased, i think, in 1813, after the successful campaign in the old northwest. and you even had some eastern newspapers saying, look, we've already expended so much blood and treasure in this war, we can't give canada back once we conquer it. yes, sir?
>> were there any myths about john paul jones in the battle of lake erie? >> john paul jones was a revolutionary war figure. perry was. >> oh, perry was. any myths? >> those images that show perry standing in his boat as he's moving from one ship to another, probably not. probably sitting. mostly i think the conventional account of perry, perry's performance in the battle is pretty accurate. >> anything -- you mentioned at the beginning about the fort mchenry flag at the smithsonian institution. and any myths surrounding that? that was the original flag made by mary pickersfield by general
armstead. >> that's more or less true. he ordered it. there's a famous painting that shows several other movers and shakers in a room where her while she's sewing it. that didn't happen. he signed the order. she made it. he probably had no immediate input. except he just gave her the dimensions. and they agreed upon a price. there are a lot of myths in connection with that flag and the defense of fort mchenry. there is one myth -- it was in the armstead family until 1907. there's about six feet at the end that's missing. the family gave out souvenirs to people who visited them. there's also a missing star. the myth is that that was given to abraham lincoln, and we know that's not true, because the arm i instead family were sympathizers in the civil war. they wouldn't have given that star to abraham lincoln. we don't know who got it. but i'm sure it wasn't abraham
lincoln. there are some other myths in connection with the writing of "the star spangled banner," key's poem that was quickly turned into a song. and became a patriotic air. big event always have a lot of mythology. i think for the war of 1812, probably the most myths surrounded battle of new orleans. i think you could do a whole program on the top ten myths of the battle of new orleans, and you could spend 45 minutes or an hour on that. yes, sir? >> i'll try to make it short. but when i was in school locally, the only thing that i retained about the war of 1812 was the battle of lake erie, as though it had begun and ended right there. >> where did you go to school? >> in highland park, right here in this area. my canadian friends had a little different version of it, though.
but the point is that i did not realize until i read a book fairly recently that the battle of lake erie was more than an exchange of gunfire, and one side won and one side lost. it was a determining factor that led to proctor moving back to niagara, and leaving this area in the hands of the americans, because at that battle, it established control of shipping on the lakes, and the british in this area were so dependent on shipments coming in, that were then cut off, that they had change -- it changed the outcome of the occupation of detroit and the surrounding areas over in canada. >> that is correct. whoever controlled the waterways controlled the surrounding land. because the only way to move men efficiently in a wilderness is by water. interesting what you said about your education in high school. keep this in mind, that there
were seven or eight theaters of operation in this war. there were four on the canadian-american frontier, the one along the detroit river that really embraced the whole northwest, a second on the niagara frontier, a third on the st. lawrence river, and then a fourth on the rishu lou river lake sham plain corridor. you've got a fifth in the chesapeake, a sixth in the southwest where we fought the creek war, a seventh on the gulf coast. that was the gulf coast campaign. arguably, there's a separate and eighth one around st. louis. and then you've got a ninth on the high seas. so eight or nine whether you count st. louis as part of the one in the northwest. the fighting that took place in these -- each theater shaped the way the war was remembered in those areas. so we really have many different wars of 1812, and many different ways, depending on where you
lived, in which it is remembered. >> the way we remembered it is the war began and ended in 1812. >> next. yes? >> you mentioned prairie duchesne, wisconsin. could you say the significance of that? >> well, prairie duchesne, the british occupied it. the americans actually booted them out, and the british came back and retook it and held it until the end of the war. this was one of the more remote posts in the war that was contested by the british and the americans. and this, like the gulf coast campaign, wasn't even on the british radar during the peace negotiations. at one point the british offered to make peace on the basis of the latin phrase that simply means you keep what you have. the british weren't even aware they held prairie duchesne at that point. they were thinking in terms of,
well, we hold the coast of maine, or 100 miles of the coast. we've got mackinaw island. we have fort niagara. those were really the only areas they were particularly interested in. so this was simply too remote to be on the british radar, or to play any role at all in the sort of peace-making process. although the british did occupy it at the tail end of the war. yes, sir? step out there, please. >> was weather a factor in the battle of baltimore? because i've heard stories of a tornado or hurricane or something. >> weather was not a particular factor there. where it played a role is the british occupation of washington. they occupied it for about 24 hours, 25 hours. there were two really nasty storms that hit during the night. some contemporaries called them
tornadoes. that may be an overstatement. they were bad enough, however, that one building collapsed and killed a number of british soldiers inside. now, during the british bombardment of fort mchenry, it was a stormy night, but i don't think that had an impact on the outcome of that bombardment. >> can you tell us about the pirate john la feet? >> john lafeat is part of that mythology of the battle of new orleans, that he played a crucial role in the american victory. he and his brother pierre lafeat had a band of pirates that preyed on commerce in and around lake barteria, the mouth of the mississippi river. they had as many as 1,000 people in their little band of pirates. they preyed on everyone's commerce. and then they sold their merchandise in new orleans for a good price.
new orleans merchants actually thought they were pretty good guys, because they were making money off of them. the u.s. navy destroyed their base in september of 1814. shortly thereafter, the british approached lafeat and offered him a deal if they would throw their lot -- if they would throw their lot in with them. they offered him a commission in -- i think it was the navy, and also a land after the british success at new orleans. but he said, i need some time to think it over. and instead, he negotiated with the americans, and threw his lot in with them. basically in exchange for pardon for all of his past crimes. he was willing to side with the united states. now, the myth is that he played a significant role in the battle of new orleans. his men did help man some of the artillery batteries in jackson's line. and the lafeats really knew the terrain around there, so they provided some intelligence to
jackson. but they did not provide him with cannons or muskets. much of his role -- the myth of much of his role is the result of a memoir that lafeat allegedly wrote, and it was published in the 1950s. and some very good historians have used that memoir because, whoever fabricated it, was smart enough to do it on paper from the early 19th century. and you do the carbon dating and it looks authentic, but it isn't. it is surely a fake. and lafeat's contribution was fairly modest. we know he wasn't at the battle of new orleans on the day of the battle, january 8th. he was probably running some message somewhere for jackson to someone else. so he wasn't even in the battle of new orleans. his reputation in the battle is somewhat inflated. that of his brother, pierre, probably a little bit underrated.
yes? >> i was wondering if you could comment on mr. taylor's book about -- talking about the war of 1812 being more like a civil war, given that loyalists were from the states, that largely offered canada, yes, lower canada as a different story. because the french and others who were there longer. but it was more or less brother against brother. and literally, because people lived on both sides of the river, and the same in niagara peninsula and that. and the other thing, just to extend the henry clay as a little bit projected into beyond the war of 1812. in 1867 canada became a country, confederated. but during the civil war, a few years before that, the american ambassador to upper and lower canada threatened the first prime minister sir john edward mcdonald by saying which side
are you on. meaning the north or the south. and he said, we're neutral. he says, well, then you're against us. and that was actually an urge to get the rail line across canada to confederate and keep it as a separate country. >> all right. well, allen taylor's recent book, he's a pulitzer prize-winning historian, a very fine scholar, wrote a book, i think it was published last year or two years ago, the civil war of 1812. it's a very fine study of what happened between detroit and montreal. and particularly on the niagara frontier. and what taylor did was bring some of the new concerns and new considerations historians have about how to write history. race, gender, ethnicity, borders. and sort of approached his subject matter from this new perspective. and i think it's a pretty good book. now, i will say this, taylor
parachuted in. he's not someone who sud identification the war for 20, 30, and 40 years, so there are some mistakes in the book. but of all those scholars who parachuted in and wrote a book on the war of 1812, his is by far the best book. i think there are some more critical of it than i am, but i think it's a very fine book. if i had to name one of the best books in the last 10, 12 years on the war, i would say his is one of the best worth reading. bruce? >> i have a comment on the hartford convention and the dissolution that came from inside the country. is this part of the demonizing of the federalists after the war, or was there a real risk that new england by voluntarily disassociating, joined the maritimes? >> during the war of 1812, there was talk of secession in new england.
but no serious secessionist movement. and those who were chosen to attend the hartford convention at the end of the war were virtually all moderates. they adopted a moderate report so that in the end what the new england federalists recommended was a series of constitutional amendments, to protect new england's position in the union in the future. and a series of steps that would enable them to better finance their local defense measures. now, they did call for the nullification of a couple of federal laws, a conscription act that never became law and a minor enlistment act which did become law. and both massachusetts and connecticut nullified that law, but connecticut did it at the tail end of the war and massachusetts waited until after the war was over. and enlistments had been suspended. in later years, people -- many people chose to remember the hartford convention as part of a larger secessionist plot, or
intrigue. but i think that overstates the danger. there was a secessionist sentiment, and you can see it in the newspapers that no serious secessionist movement. okay? yes, ma'am? >> fascinating information. thank you. i told my friend who's an 8th grade teacher, she needs to take the myths back and use it as a true/false quiz for her class. i'm pretty sure that we do not have in detroit an understand able anything commemorative or statues for william hall. but could you speak for a minute about whether there are any myths about what he did or did not do when detroit was captured, and just sort of his place in history? i'm interested in just some more
information about that. >> hall was not up to the job of managing that campaign in the old northwest in 1812. so he marched his army up to the -- to fort detroit, actually invaded canada across the river, was unwilling to assault, to try to storm fort amherstberg without carriages for his cannons. and when he learned that mackinaw had fallen, he feared he was going to have indians descending on him from the north. so he withdrew into fort detroit, and subsequently surrendered when brock played what i call the indian card. and that was a message from brock, which said, look, if we have to attack fort detroit, we're not going to be able to control our indian all yigs. the subtext being, we're going to massacre everyone. he had his own family and even
exclaimed to a fellow officer, my god, what am i going to do with these civilians. rather than risk their lives, he surrendered. conventional wisdom is hall was the goat. he was taken to quebec as a prisoner of war, kept badmouthing the u.s. government. and they thought this guy would do more good if we send him back home. he was subsequently tried and convicted by a court-martial of cowardice and neglect of duty, and the court recommended that he be shot. but it also recommended that the president commute the sentence because of his revolutionary war experience. so president madison did. and as a result, hall was around for another 15 or 20 years, and he and his descendents tried without much success if my view to defend what he had done. if you look at each of hall's decisions, they don't look bad. each one is defensible.
but the result of all of the decisions together was a disaster. and i cannot imagine andrew jackson, william henry harrison, winfield scott, or jacob brown, any of the other great commanders of the war putting themselves in the position that hall found himself in mid-august of 1812, when he felt he had to surrender. they would have made a different decision, taken a different path earlier. >> one other question. i read a book, or part of a book let's say, i think the other's name was walker is that possible? about the war of 1812, it came out last year. anyway, his point, largely in the book, and it may be a rhetorical question, but until 1812, there was a question about whether or not parts of canada may become part of the united states or vice versa, and his argument was that the war of 1812 definitively ended that
discussion. >> not entirely. one of the arguments that alan taylor makes in his book, and i think it's a good one, is that there are two conflicting visions about what was going to happen in north america. were we going to annex canada and it would become part of the great american republic, or was our republican experiment going to collapse, and who knows what would happen in its place. i think where taylor is wrong is, he argues that a number of british and canadians actually believed the u.s. would collapse, and they were eager to reestablish the british empire below the 49th parallel. i don't think there are any british leaders or subjects that really seriously envisioned that. the fact that the united states had failed in the revolution, and the war of 1812, to conquer canada, in no way diminished our interest in canada. and even though looking from today's perspective, we see the westward movement as a westward
movement. it was also a movement that looked north and south. and i would say that we really didn't give hard designs on canada until the end of the century. as late as 1886, the detroit newspaper ran an editorial, and i can quote this directly from the editorial, they were talking about a problem with great britain and the editorial says, when the next war ends, there should be but one flag flying from the rio grande to the north pole. >> i don't think until 1900 that americans realized that canada was here to stay as an independent nation. i tell my students that if quebec ever pulls out of the canadian union, which i do not believe it will happen, in their lifetimes, we may get some canadian provinces, particularly
from the west coast. i don't think any of that's going to happen. i think secessionist sentiment, the -- that movement in quebec really piqued in the 1990s. >> thank you. >> this might be a bit outside your province, but i heard on canadian television of which detroit is one of three u.s. cities that receive canadian television, by the way, that canada almost went to war with the united states in the 1840s. do you know anything about that? >> i think the better argument is the 1830s. there were a number of problems on the northern border. you had irish nationalists
periodically agitating -- now, that's really in the 1860s. and i don't really know quite how that happened. but it seems to me like you have a bunch of irishmen sitting around a tavern, and after about ten rounds, they decide, let's conquer canada and we'll use it as ransom for the independents of ireland. let me say, there was periodic tension along the northern border. there was a problem in the 1830s, and then again in the 1860s. but i'm not aware of a problem in the 1840s. but there was there was persistn between the united states, or recurring tension and great britain and persistent tension between the united states and canada. really, a lot of these problems were rehe solved in the treaty of washington in 1871. and i think that's what really lowered more or less permanently
the level of tension between the united states and great britain as well as canada. that resolved the remaining outstanding problems -- most of them between great britain and the united states and canada. >> professor, we have a couple of counties named after a person named anthony wayne and alexander mccomb. could you comment on their roles, if any, in the war of 1812? >> well, anthony wayne was a revolutionary war hero who died in 1795 or '6, i believe. '6? okay. now, i live in wayne county nebraska and i teach at wayne state college in nebraska. we're one of a number of waynes named after the great man. mccomb county undoubtedly was named after the american general at plattsburgh who held the
position there against the invading british force in 1814. although that campaign that turned on a successful naval battle, like the battle of lake erie, this was the battle of lake champlain. but you see it was mccomb county? mccomb, yeah. and he later -- he got quite a bit of credit for the success at plattsburgh and remained an important figure in the u.s. army and the post war era. well, i think that concludes our time. i want to thank you all. you've been a great audience, great questions and -- >> i do need to tell you that we hope dr. hicky will be able to join us again on july the 17th on mackinac island when it is once again surrendered to the
british. we were with bill porter this afternoon, the director of the mackinac state parks and he was describing the plans to do a major reenactment of the surrender to the british. and when professor hicky and his wife, connie, are there, they will be able to drink coffee on the grand hotel porch with official michigan war of 1812 y bicentennial coffee mugs. so there's one for he and his wife. and an absolutely shameless plug. we have them available for purchase for only $7. and david hales and i will be at the table in the back. but more importantly, please buy the forgotten conflict, the war of 1812 bicentennial edition, wonderful book. also, i absolutely love don't give up the ship. it is a fascinating read with
more than he could tell us here this evening. >> i'll have four or five books for sale out there if you're interested. i'll be happy to sign them in the front. ♪ ♪ listen to the mocking bird listen to the mocking bird ♪ ♪ the mocking bird is singing ♪ >> the name hairette wayne may be widely forgotten today, but in the year before the civil war, she was almost as famous as
her uncle, the president of the united states. because game buchanan was the bachelor, harriet served as his white house hostess. it was hair yet who welcomed the prince of whales in 1959 and harriet who left funds in her will to erect this monument in the park. even then, there was no rush to memorial united states the deeply unpopular president. another dozen years went by until the eight-foot tall bronze likeness of buchanan was unveiled in 1930. ironically, few presidents have ended office with fewer credentials, sharing face with a somber looking chief executive. wall recognizes buchanan's early career in the courtroom and a temperament more suited to the bench than the political arena. diplomacy pays tribute to his
service as james k. pope secretary of state and as u.s. minister to the court of st. james and darus bradshaw. ironically, buchanan's gift of conciliation seemed to dessert him in the white house. he inadvertently split his own party right down the middle. following the election of abraham lincoln, buchanan looked on helplessly as several states left the union. his reading of the constitution persuaded buchanan that the federal government had no right to prevent it by force. all of which helped to explain why there was no statue of our 15th president in the nation's capital until a devoted niece wielded it almost a century after his presidency. ♪ listen to the mocking bird listen to the mocking bird ♪ ♪ they're singing with a
hallowed wind ♪ >> this week on the civil war. historians and authors discuss the battle of shiloh, fought 150 years ago in harden county, tennessee, april 6 and 7th, 1852. the battle resulted in a union victory over confederate forces attempting to defend two major western railroads, serving the strategically important mississippi valley region. nearly 110,000 troops took part in the fighting which produced almost 24,000 casualties making it the bloodiest battle to that point in history. the tennessee civil war sess question centennial commission hosted this event. this session is nearly two hours. >> and there developed a bond of brotherhood among both sides that was never forgotten. and just very briefly, i want to read to you something th w