Celebrating our Mutual Bicentennial: A Conference on the War of 1812

Amos Doolittle, "Brother Jonathan Administering a Salutary Cordial to John Bull," New Haven, CT (1813)

As many of you may already know, the story of the American Antiquarian Society is in many ways linked to the War of 1812. For if the war had not been underway when Isaiah Thomas decided to found the Society, we could very well have ended up in Boston rather than here in Worcester. As it was, however, the ever-practical Thomas realized that busy port towns would be a prime target for the British Navy – as Washington D.C. proved to be two years later – and decided that the inland town of Worcester would be a safer place for his collections and the Society.

So, what better way to celebrate our bicentennial than with a conference about the related bicentennial of the War of 1812? On October 13, in our first K-12 program of the year, AAS, in conjunction with the New England History Teachers Association (NEHTA), will be presenting a conference for teachers on all aspects of the war. In addition to concurrent sessions covering the political, martial, and cultural causes and effects of the war, a plenary talk by William Fowler of Northeastern University will discuss why we should care about a war that was ultimately a draw and has all but been forgotten by all parties involved except for Canada.

Teachers will have the opportunity to attend sessions that cover pedagogical approaches and the latest scholarship in the field. They will explore topics such as the culture surrounding the conflict, both in the United States and Canada; the war at sea; the conflict in an international context; and the impact of the war on American politics. And of course, this conference would not be complete without some of AAS’s own treasures relating to the War of 1812 on display. There will be a special exhibition in Antiquarian Hall and participants will have an opportunity to work directly with some of the materials during a session on images of the war and the early nineteenth-century Atlantic world.

Nathaniel Coverly, "The Death of the Embargo," Boston, MA (c.1809)

The keynote for this conference will be a lecture by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Alan Taylor based on his recent book, The Civil War of 1812. This will take place the previous evening, October 12, at 7 p.m. as part of our fall public program series.

Another special guest will be David Hildebrand, musician and author, who will not only conduct a session on the music of the war, highlighting the origin of the Star Spangled Banner, but will also perform a concert in period costume and on period instruments, at a special reception closing the conference.

More information and online registration is available on the conference page on our website.

This conference is sure to be one filled with instructive discussion, interesting presentations, and entertaining performances. Please join us in celebrating the bicentennials of the War of 1812 and AAS!

Published by

Kayla Haveles

Outreach Coordinator, American Antiquarian Society

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