I’ve just spent a few days in Muskoka, Canada attending a conference of the Muskoka Chautauqua organization.
The theme of the weekend was the war of 1812. It has been called the United States second war of independence by some historians. We declared war on Great Britain to stop impressment of American merchant seamen into the Royal navy, at least that’s what we said.
We really wanted to annex portions of Canada as United States territory and expand westward into Indian land, but when the war ended nearly three years later it was a stalemate. Nobody won, just a lot of people died. Sound familiar?
Britain needed able-bodied sailors at that time. They were fighting Napoleon in France and stealing (impressing) seaman seemed easier than recruiting them.
President Madison got congress to declare war. An action that is a constitutional requirement for a declaration of war, but we haven’t done that very often in the 20th or the 21st century.
Since this month is the 200th anniversary of the war it seemed like an appropriate topic.
Richard Gwyn a Canadian author, political columnist and an award-winning biographer was there as was John Ibbitson, Ottawa Bureau Chief, Globe and Mail, political correspondent and also an award-winning author.
Steve Paikin a broadcast journalist, author, producer and host of TVO’s The Agenda was an excellent moderator.
I think I was the token “yank”, but I had fun and enjoyed the lively exchanges of who won, who didn’t win, what if and so on.
In tomorrow’s post I’ll share my opening thoughts on the war of 1812.