Friday, August 24, 2012

ACH Centennial Edition: The War of 1812 - Part I

This engraving, taken from Encyclopedia Brittanica Online depicts the Battle of the Thames, a decisive victory for the United States over the British and Tecumseh. (Please click on the image, it looks a lot better when enlarged.)

Congress was investigating William Henry Harrison for his aggressive tactics towards the Shawnee brothers and their city-state of Prophetstown at the same time that there was tension with Great Britain.  One of the issues was that the Canadian border had not been determined and some politicians wanted to conquer the British-owned territory to the north. 

According to historian and author Adam Jortner, the investigation being conducted on Harrison - then the governor of Indiana Territory - was something of an historical turning point.  United States officials tended to blame the British for stirring the pot with Indians (when actually it was people like Harrison who stirred it, but that is fodder for another blogpost).  Anyway, Harrison's political opponents were upset with his conduct towards the Indians, but another rather powerful political faction, known as the War Hawks or "young War Hawks," was so intent on building up reasons to go to war against the British that the report on the investigation of Harrison wound up not being about Harrison's actions per se, but instead about how he was reacting to a nasty conspiracy between the British and the Indians of the Old Northwest.

As Jortner put it in an online interview [to read it you'll have to "scroll down" after you get to the amazon page], William Henry Harrison saved himself by joining the "push for a broader war against all the Northwest Indians and Canada."  The War of 1812 was declared just five days after Congress made their report on the investigation of Governor Harrison.  

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