Family Relations

“We Have Met the Enemy and He is Ours” — The Struggle of Lake Erie, September ten, 1813

Back in the days before President Obama subcontracted our foreign policy to the Russians and just before the Saudis lined up as paymaster for our troops, we prized our Independence so extremely we had been willing to go to war with the biggest sea electrical power in the world to protect our sovereignty.

The origins of the War of 1812 seem misty and obscure to us now. But they have been everything but unclear to People in america in the 1st a long time of the nineteenth century. Fantastic Britain was then at war with the French beneath the Emperor Napoleon. The youthful republic, the United States, experienced sensibly declared its neutrality, keeping away from “entanglement” in Europe’s interminable struggles.

We had been well prepared, nevertheless, to defend our rights as neutrals. Britain’s Royal Navy manufactured it a practice to seize seamen from American merchant ships, and even naval vessels, if they could assert the sailors had been deserters from their naval service. The standard way for “recruiting” sailors for the Royal Navy in these times was to send out out a press gang to get healthful younger gentlemen who have been unfortunate sufficient to be caught drunk, or drugged, or had been normally not able to escape the gang leaders. Eire was underneath England’s weighty boot then and thousands of Irishmen did emigrate to America. Some of them, having been nearly kidnaped by the King’s press gangs, did bounce ship at the 1st prospect to make their way to The united states, the land of the free.

Impressment of American seamen was as a result a extended-festering irritant. The British refused to understand naturalization as citizens of People in america who experienced remaining England, Eire or Scotland for the U.S.

To us, this was a gross insult. It denied our “separate but equal” standing as a nation amongst the nations. The British also refused to evacuate the forts they experienced developed together the Western frontier of The us. This was one of the essential provisions of the Treaty of Paris of 1783 that Britain experienced signed, ending the War of Independence. The British claimed that we had unsuccessful to honor individuals provisions for restoring the seized house of Loyalists (Tories). One of the best Hollywood treatment options of this episode in our history can be noticed in the movie, “Billy Budd,” a pretty faithful rendering of the vintage Herman Melville novel.

The British presence on the frontier was a constant threat to American settlers. Congressmen from Western New York, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Tennessee denounced the British for inciting Indian raids from frontier communities. These Congressmen, specially these elected in 1810, grew to become identified as “War Hawks” since they wished The united states to combat the British in Canada and to remove the royal existence from this continent.

Today is the Bicentennial of 1 of the most substantial battles of the War of 1812. American naval hero Oliver Hazard Perry experienced assembled a fleet to combat the British on the Great Lakes.

We experienced had numerous defeats in our initiatives to conquer British Canada. And we had been now in hazard of invasion from the North. But Oliver Hazard Perry satisfied the British risk on Lake Erie and turned it again on this day in 1813. His message to General William Henry Harrison saying his victory was a most welcome split in the drumbeat of defeat and depressing news that had accompanied American failures on land:

We have satisfied the enemy and they are ours — two ships, two brigs, one particular schooner and one sloop.”

Perry also carried aloft yet another popular phrase. The dying words of his excellent pal, Captain James Lawrence of the U.S.S. Chesapeake were “Don’t Give Up the Ship” Perry experienced experienced individuals phrases stitched in white on to a basic blue banner and flew it from the foremast. It became the inspiration for his little fleet.

Nowadays, there is a large mural of Oliver Hazard Perry’s victory in the Capitol Dome in Washington. It commemorates the scene where Perry experienced to depart his sinking vessel, the U.S.S. Lawrence and transfer to the U.S.S. Niagara. In spite of the destruction, he had fought his way through to a profitable summary, and experienced defended his place from a serious threat.

The British were not completed with the Yankees in what was referred to as our “Second War of Independence.” They would consider again — two times — to conquer the Us citizens. In 1814, they invaded the Chesapeake and efficiently seized and burned Washington, D.C. Only with their defeat at Fort McHenry, guarding the approaches to Baltimore, did the British withdraw. And in early 1815, they invaded The us again. This time, at New Orleans. An American basic, Andrew Jackson, awaited them there.

But right now warrants to be remembered as a time when, two hundred years ago, we were ready to battle for our independence — and to keep away from foreign entanglements. President Obama lately quoted Ronald Reagan, favorably: “Trust but validate.” That significantly was welcome. Maybe we need to also remember President Reagan’s warning in his Farewell Handle: “If we neglect what we did, we will fail to remember who we are.”

Today is a working day to bear in mind who we are.


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