Visiting Fort McHenry

There’s a war we don’t know much about, the War of 1812, also called the Forgotten War. It started with a young Union trying to conquer Canada, and the British wouldn’t let that slip! Americans had already fought their war for independence from the British but they grew sick of Britain and France confiscating their ships to cut supplies to each other. A few congressmen were pushing to annex British Canada and Spanish Florida. So in June 1812 the US declared war to England and tried to conquer Canada. The British army was the mightiest in the world, American battles were just an annoyance to them while they were fighting Napoleon on the other side of the Atlantic. When Napoleon was defeated in 1814 they sent more ships to stop the annoyance. During the battle of Baltimore they bombarded Fort McHenry for 25 hours before giving up. When they left, the Americans raised a huge flag (12x10m) over the fort later know as the Star-spangled Banner. Francis Scott Key, a lawyer from Washington, saw the flag being raised at dawn after the battle ended and immediately wrote a poem:
“O say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”.

The lines were soon being sung to the tune of “To Anacreon in Heaven”, which, fun fact, was a British gentleman’s club song…  Now known as The Star-spangled Banner, it became the national anthem in 1931. The anthem is controversial for the above cited reason and the fact that it’s too war related and can be seen as symbolizing hate against the British. And for a long time it was “the land of the free” except for the slaves.

As for the war itself, there was no victory, they both agreed to stop after 3 years of useless battles. Things remained the same, except America stood up real proud and patriotic. I guess the young country was a grown up now, like the most powerful empires, they tried to get stuff that’s not theirs with fights and blood.

In the afternoon we drive to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for our next little trip in the Amish country.

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