". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Sunday, August 24, 2014

'Tis the Bicentennial of the Battle of Bladensburg and the Burning of D.C.

August 24, 1814, a day of national infamy.

Which blundering event on the part of the nation and its leaders was merely one more blundering failure in this war that New England merchants agitated to secede over -- which is the likely explanation that so few remember and even fewer even know about the War of 1812. This, despite it being the hinge point in the towering career of Andrew Jackson, and his shaping of our subsequent national history up to and including the Civil War.  The Brits may have been having their successes against (mostly) very tiny, undefended towns and plantations along the Chesapeake in these years.  But Jackson was winning one engagement after another in the south and west, against Indians, against the Brits, against whatever he set himself against, including the wilderness itself.

Again, for the best description and analysis of this "forgotten war," the best source is Henry Adams's account in the volumes that cover the Madison administrations in his History of the United States of America.

Canada remembers the War of 1812 much better -- the northern conflict that is, not the Chesapeake conflicts and those further south.  This is because that war, in which they turned back the U.S. invasions has become a part of Canada's founding history as herself a nation.

Fortunately, in September came the Battle of Baltimore - Ft. McHenry, which not only stopped the Brits but redeemed American military reputation.

For a look at today's Bladensburg, go here.  With about 10,000 residents, it looks a very pleasant place to live -- as do so many small communities in Maryland's counties.

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