Historian Wiliam Chemerka to speak at Madison Historial Society meeting

The Madison Historical Society will present former Madison High School history teacher, William R. “Bill” Chemerka, on Tuesday, Sept. 18, at 7:15 p.m. in the Chase Room of the Madison Public Library, 39 Keep St.Chemerka will discuss the War of 1812, a nearly three-year struggle that has been described as “America’s second war of independence.” This will be the first of two society programs this year marking the bicentennial of the War of 1812. Light refreshments will be served prior to the meeting.

The causes of the War of 1812 were numerous and various, according to Cathie Coultas, society vice president and programs chairperson, “The American public resented the trade restrictions imposed on the young republic by Britain and its impressments of American merchant sailors during the Napoleonic Wars, as well as British support of Native American tribes opposing American western expansion. There was also a desire to invade and annex Canada on the part of a number of western Americans “war hawks’ led by Speaker of the House Henry Clay and South Carolina’s John C. Calhoun.”

“The War of 1812 was marked by a number of remarkable naval victories by the America’s infant navy, a calamitous American invasion of Canada, the burning of the Capitol and White House by the British troops under the leadership of Rear Admiral George Cockburn, the penning of the “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Francis Scott Key, and Andrew Jackson’s decisive victory over British invaders at the Battle of New Orleans, a battle fought weeks after the Dec. 24, 1814, signing of the Treaty of Ghent that ended the war,” added Susan Simon, society president.

Chemerka is an award-winning educator, writer, lecturer and actor. From 1973 to 2002 he taught American history and economics at Madison High School, where he earned nearly 20 teaching awards, including the DAR’s “Outstanding Teacher of American History in the State of New Jersey,” the “Governor’s Teaching Award” and four “Barret-Caprio Teaching Awards.” He was also a multiple honoree of Who’s Who Among American Teachers and was the only teacher in 2001 to receive the New Jersey Historical Commission’s prestigious “Award of Recognition.”

He has been an on-camera consultant for numerous History Channel productions and was a writer for the Channel’s 2004 Emmy-nominated documentary, First Invasion: The war of 1812. His next History Channel program, Secret Access: U.S. Monuments is scheduled to air this winter. He is also the author a number of books, four of which – “C. C. and the Alamo Cats,” “Juan Seguin,” “The Alamo from A to Z,” and “Fess Parker: TV’s Frontier Hero” – were all published in 2011.

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