A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘war of 1812

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • Architectuul looks back at some highlights from 2019.
  • Bad Astronomy looks at the gas cloud, red and green, of RCW 120.
  • Crooked Timber looks at the dynamics of identity politics, here.
  • Bruce Dorminey notes a NASA statement about the importance of understanding dust dynamics in other solar systems to find Earth analogues.
  • Far Outliers looks at the problems pacifying the Chesapeake Bay area in 1813, here.
  • Gizmodo looks at the most popular Wikipedia articles for the year 2019.
  • io9 shares a video of images from a 1995 Akira cyberpunk computer game that never got finished.
  • JSTOR Daily looks at how the United States tried to “civilize” the Inupiat of Alaska by giving them reindeer herds.
  • Language Hat links to an online atlas of Scots dialects.
  • Language Log reports on a 12th century Sanskrit inscription that testifies to the presence of Muslims in Bengal at that point.
  • Marginal Revolution notes how much Tuvalu depends on revenue from its .tv Internet domain.
  • Drew Rowsome looks at the Duncan Ralston horror novel Salvage, set in small-town Canada.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog looks at the strong relationship between wealth and life expectancy in France.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel notes that, in a hypothetical supernova, all life on an Earth-like planet would be boiled alive by neutrinos.
  • Strange Maps links to a graphic interface that translates a word into all the languages of Europe.
  • Understanding Society looks at the structures of high-reliability organizations.
  • Window on Eurasia shares a suggestion that Homer Simpson is actually the US’ version of Russia’s Ivan the Fool.

[LINK] “Overlooked First Nations war heroes recognized 2 centuries later”

CBC News’ Havard Gould reports on a new, belated memorial to John Brant, a First Nations leader who played an important if neglected role in Upper Canada’s defense in the War of 1812.

More than 200 years after a courageous group of First Nations warriors and war captains saved the day at the Battle of Queenston Heights during the War of 1812 between the Americans and the British, their accomplishments are finally getting large-scale recognition.

A massive memorial, Landscape of Nations, is being dedicated and opened to the public on the site where the battle against the American invaders, who were trying to capture territory on the Canadian side of the Niagara River, was fought.

[. . .]

“It’s almost the missing piece,” said Niagara Parks Commission chair Janice Thomson. “We need to fill in that piece of history.”

The project is supported by the federal, Ontario and local governments, the Six Nations Legacy Consortium and many donors.

British army officer Maj-Gen. Sir Isaac Brock was killed in action at Queenston Heights on Oct. 13, 1812. His memorial, a soaring column, overlooks the battleground and is a popular tourist attraction. It is actually the second monument to Brock on the site; the first was damaged by an explosion.

But until now, much less has been done to acknowledge the efforts of the First Nations in the battle, efforts most historians believe were decisive.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 18, 2016 at 3:30 pm

[AH] Could Tecumseh’s confederacy have succeeded?

Two weekends ago, I enjoyed an afternoon at Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario. One of the first works I saw on this visit were these two terracotta busts by one Hamilton Plantagenet MacCarthy. The one in the back is of Sir Isaac Brock, an acting Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada who died in an early battle of the War of 1812. The one in the front is of Tecumseh, the Shawnee leader who tried to create an Indian confederacy to Upper Canada’s west and fell in battle a year after Brock.

Tecumseh and Brock, by MacCarthy #toronto #artgalleryofontario #ago #terracotta #tecumseh #isaacbrock #hamiltonplantagenetmaccarthy

The project to which Brock devoted his life, that of an Upper Canada that was part of the British Empire, succeeded. Barring sustained British defeats on the front lines, I would argue that was a more likely outcome than not. Tecumseh’s confederacy, in contrast, did not survive his death, and would arguably have been hard-pressed to survive, not least because of American pressure on territories that had been ceded to the US back in 1783.

A commenter on Facebook linked to his analysis of a scenario where the Confederacy survived. The description of British demands, found here, describes terms that would be hard for the Americans to accept.

Within a week, Lord Castlereagh sent precise instructions which confirmed the worst fears of the Americans. The Indian boundary line was to follow the line of the Treaty of Greenville and beyond it neither nation was to acquire land. The United States was asked, in short, to set apart for the Indians in perpetuity an area which comprised the present States of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois, four-fifths of Indiana, and a third of Ohio. But, remonstrated Gallatin, this area included States and Territories settled by more than a hundred thousand American citizens. What was to be done with them? ‘They must look after themselves,’ was the blunt answer.

In comparison with this astounding proposal, Lord Castlereagh’s further suggestion of a ‘rectification’ of the frontier by the cession of Fort Niagara and Sackett’s Harbor and by the exclusion of the Americans from the Lakes, seemed of little importance. The purpose of His Majesty’s Government, the commissioners hastened to add, was not aggrandizement but the protection of the North American provinces. In view of the avowed aim of the United States to conquer Canada, the control of the Lakes must rest with Great Britain. Indeed, taking the weakness of Canada into account, His Majesty’s Government might have reasonably demanded the cession of the lands adjacent to the Lakes; and should these moderate terms not be accepted, His Majesty’s Government would feel itself at liberty to enlarge its demands, if the war continued to favor British arms. The American commissioners asked if these proposals relating to the control of the Lakes were also a sine qua non. ‘We have given you one sine qua non already,’ was the reply, ‘and we should suppose one sine qua non at a time was enough.’

The Treaty of Greenville, originally signed in 1795, set generous boundaries for the confederacy.

I have serious doubts as to whether this would be viable. The weakness of the First Nations alone, particularly demographically, would be a major problem. The situation of the American citizens already resident in this autonomous zone–a territory that, I believe, would still be part of the United States–would seem certain to keep everyone entangled most uncomfortably. The result could easily be a second war on the Great Lakes at some point. Tecumseh’s confederacy, even if successful, might only postpone the marginalization of indigenous peoples in central North America for another generation. His initiative came too late.

Was there any way that Tecumseh’s project could have survived? Perhaps we could have had Michigan become a Native American polity under Britain? Tecumseh could plausibly have survived; Britain could plausibly have done better? Or were the odds too great for any long-duration survival?

Written by Randy McDonald

September 27, 2016 at 11:59 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “The bloody Burlington Races and the war for Lake Ontario”

Spacing Toronto’s Adam Bunch vividly describes an 1813 naval battle in the War of 1812, the last major clash on the Great Lakes.

Just a few months earlier, shipbuilders in Toronto had been hard at work near the foot of Bay Street hammering together the HMS Sir Isaac Brock (named after the British general who died fighting the Americans at Niagara). She was going to be the second biggest ship on Lake Ontario, giving the British control of the water. But there were spies in Toronto — the Americans knew all about the construction. In April, just before the Brock was ready to set sail, the Americans invaded Toronto, hoping to steal the new ship. They won the battle, but the retreating troops burned the Brock before the invading army could get to her.

Still, the advantage on the Great Lakes was swinging dramatically toward the Americans. In early September, they won a stunning victory on Lake Erie. They captured the entire British fleet on that lake, giving them complete control of it. Now, they just needed Lake Ontario: “the key to the Great Lakes.” If they won it, they would be able to pull off their grand plan: ship troops up the St. Lawrence River and besiege Montreal.

So now, the Americans were sailing back toward Toronto. This time, they weren’t coming to capture just one ship; they wanted the entire British fleet.

The man in charge was Commodore Isaac Chauncey. He was from Connecticut, but he first made a name for himself fighting pirates off the coast of Tripoli. Back in April, he’d been in charge of the American ships invading Toronto. Now, he was commanding his fleet from the deck of a brand new flagship: the USS General Pike (named after the American general who’d been blown up at Fort York during the invasion). The Pike sailed at the head of a squadron of ten ships — some towed behind the others for extra firepower. The Americans had bigger guns with longer range than their British counterparts. But their ships were also slower and harder to maneuver.

The British squadron was smaller: just six ships. They were commanded by Commodore Sir James Yeo, an Englishman who had been welcomed to Upper Canada as a hero — one of the rising stars of the most powerful navy on Earth. He sailed aboard his own brand new flagship, the HMS General Wolfe (named after yet another dead general: the guy who had died fighting the French on the Plains of Abraham). She was the sister ship of the burned Brock, built in Kingston at the very same time.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 1, 2015 at 10:22 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Attempting to Remember the War of 1812”

The weekend before last, Torontoist’s Ross Fair blogged about an effort to celebrate the centenary of the War of 1812 with a statue in Toronto. In the end, all that developed was a plaque on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

On May 25, 1909, some 200 men gathered at the University Avenue Armouries to march north to Queen’s Park. There, veterans of the 1866 Fenian Raids, the 1885 North-West Rebellion, and the 1899-1902 South African War decorated their respective monuments to honour the fallen. Afterwards, the men regrouped at the front steps of the legislature for speeches. Lieutenant-Colonel William Hamilton Merritt, a veteran of both the North-West Rebellion and the South African War, reminded the crowd that Queen’s Park had no monument “to the brave men who saved Canada in 1812 to 1814 and who laid deep and strong the foundation stone of this great Dominion.”

More than 100 years later, that is still the case.

In his speech, Merritt said that centennial commemorations of the war were being organized, and that it was “no secret” that Ontario’s premier, Sir James Pliny Whitney, “was in sympathy with the idea of erecting a suitable monument.” Shortly after, Toronto’s Army and Navy Veterans Association wrote to the Globe to remind Merritt and Torontonians that the city already had a memorial to those who had fought in the War of 1812.

It had little effect. Merritt would continue to campaign for a monument at Queen’s Park doggedly.

The monument to which the letter-writers referred was Walter Allward’s sculpture of the “Old Soldier,” unveiled in January 1907 at the centre of Toronto’s old military burial ground (now called Victoria Memorial Square). Bronze plaques affixed to each of the pedestal’s four sides honoured those who gave their lives in the War of 1812; the monument also honoured the British soldiers who had died while stationed in Upper Canada and were buried at that location.

Had Merritt listened, that letter might have spared him some harsh lessons, learned in the course of a years’ long campaign. The Victoria Square monument had cost just $4,000, but it had taken five years to complete partly because of delays in fundraising. (Some $200 remained outstanding when it was unveiled in 1907.) And Merritt’s ambitions were much greater.

Planning for War of 1812 centennial commemorations began in the summer of 1909, with two Toronto-based organizations emerging to arrange events that would be both spectacular and national in scope. A provisional committee of “The Centenary Celebration Association 1812-1912″ organized a public meeting at City Hall in December 1910 to discuss plans for a grand historical pageant, a national monument, and an invitation for King George V to visit Canada. But grand ambitions did not yield well-organized plans: the Toronto Daily Star dubbed it “A Peaceful But Tangled Meeting.”

Written by Randy McDonald

March 19, 2013 at 2:52 am