Baltimore Sailabrates the Bicentennial of War of 1812

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By Katie H., Librarian, Social Science and History Department

Francis Scott Key
Francis Scott Key and Fort McHenry

The War of 1812, sometimes referred to as America’s second war of independence, began in June 1812 and continued until the signing of the Treaty of Ghent brought it to an end in 1815. It took place for a variety of reasons, including British restrictions on American shipping and the impressment of American seamen. British support for Native Americans against American attempts to expand into the Northwest Territory added to the hostility between the two nations.

Throughout 1813 and 1814, the British raided along both sides of the Chesapeake Bay. Having defeated the American forces at Bladensburg, the British occupied Washington and burned the White House and other public buildings. The British then moved to capture Baltimore, home to many of the privateers that ravaged British shipping. The Battle of Baltimore started with action at North Point. Fort McHenry was bombarded for 25 hours. While observing it, American lawyer Francis Scott Key noticed the large American flag that continued to fly throughout the shelling. This was the Star Spangled Banner sewn together by Baltimorean Mary Pickersgill. Moved, Francis Scott Key wrote the poem that became the lyrics to our National Anthem.

In 2012, we begin the bicentennial celebration of the War of 1812. Use our War of 1812 Guide to find activities in the Baltimore area. Help us start off the celebration on Tuesday, June 12th at 6:30pm in the Poe Room at Central Library, where David A. Taylor will talk about his book, War of 1812: and the Rise of the U.S. Navy. The Star-Spangled Sailabration runs from June 13th to June 19th and includes an international parade of more than 40 ships. Check out our guide to find more history and events, including an airshow featuring the Blue Angels.

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