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The War of 1813 by Gary D. Crawford

For some time now, I have resisted the temptation to write about the War of 1812. Everybody and his brother seemed to be jumping on that 200th anniversary bandwagon, so I figured I’d just leave it to them and hold my fire. But now it’s 2013 and that’s all over. So here’s my piece on the War of 1813. What a curious war this was! The oddness starts with its name. The conflict went down in history as the “War of 1812,” presumably because that was the year the U.S. declared war on Great Britain. So far as I know, no other war in history has had so little thought given to its name, except perhaps for the War of Jenkins’ Ear (1739-48). Calling it the War of 1812 is like

calling World War II the “War of 1941.” Besides, hostilities actually began in 1807 when the USS Chesapeake was jumped by HMS Leopard just after leaving our Bay. That wasn’t quite enough for Mr. Jefferson to declare war, but five years later she was captured again. President Madison finally had to accept his party’s call to war. Is there a better name for this war? The Federalists who opposed the war called it “Mr. Madison’s War,” but that’s too partisan for me. In some states, there was strenuous opposition to the war, especially in New England. Several states even considered seceding from the union over it, in which case we might have called it the Civil War. The Federal-

The proud USS Chesapeake before and after she was captured and then dismantled by the British. 139

January 2013 Tidewater Times  

January 2013 Tidewater Times

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