Educator, author Chemerka to trace course of War of 1812 at Madison library

Madison Eagle

Friday, September 7, 2012

MADISON – The Madison Historical Society will present former Madison High School history teacher William R. Chemerka for a discussion of the War of 1812 at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18, in the Chase Room of the Madison Public Library, 39 Keep St.

Light refreshments will be served prior to the meeting.

Chemerka will describe the nearly three-year struggle with Great Britain known as “America’s second war of independence.” His presentation will be the first of two Historical Society programs this year marking the bicentennial of the War of 1812.

The causes of the War of 1812 were numerous and various, according to Historical Society Vice President and Programs Chairperson Cathie Coultas. “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,” Coultas observed.

Historical Society President Susan Simon added, “The War of 1812 was marked by a number of remarkable naval victories by America’s infant navy, a calamitous American invasion of Canada, the burning of the Capitol and White House by 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 December 24, 1814 signing of the Treaty of Ghent that ended the war.”

Honored Educator

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 Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) honor as “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 N.J. 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 History 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 book, four of which – “C.C. and the Alamo Cats,” “Juan Seguin,” “The Alamo from A to Z,” and “Fess Parker: TV’s Frontier Hero” – all were published in 2011.

For information about the Madison Historical Society or to inquire about membership, call 973-377-0722, or visit

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