There’s a huge party happening right now on Detroit’s Riverfront!
It’s the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812.
The War of 1812 was when Great Britain and the new United States of America slugged it out over trade, over the British habit of grabbing American ships and sailors and forcing them to serve King George (yes, THAT same King George we beat in the Revolutionary War!!)
The War of 1812 Bicentennial and Navy Week are being celebrated this week with events happening from downtown Detroit to Lake St Clair.
Historian Jim McConnell spoke with Stateside’s Cynthia Canty about the War of 1812.
He says unlike other wars, such as the Civil War, everyone knows when the War of 1812 started.
“It was very important to Michigan because the first major battles of the War of 1812 were fought around Detroit and around Mackinac Island,” says McConnell.
The battle of Mackinac Island was fought on July 17 1812.
McConnell says “ it wasn’t really a battle because the British caught the fort by surprise and the fort surrendered without firing a shot.”
On August 16, 1812 the fall of Detroit was a shock to President Madison and to the country “it certainly broke the spirit of Americans at the start of the war.”
McConnell says that the U.S. ended up at odds again with Great Britain because of Napoleon.
Napoleon Bonaparte had taken control of France and was in an ongoing war with England.
Neither France nor England wanted the U.S. to carry on trade with their enemy so they both began to interfere with American trade. The British with their bigger navy were interfering more effectively.”
The war went on for two and a half years.
The huge 1812 Bicentennial Celebration features concerts, cooking competitions, precision drill teams, a Military Festival, the Red Wings alumni will square off against U.S. Navy sailors in a softball game…. and so much more.
You can see the schedule on the web at 1812Detroit.com.
At the same time, Navy Week in Detroit gives us a great chance to meet sailors and Marines, and to tour two U.S. Navy ships, A Royal Canadian Navy frigate and an exact replica of the tall ship Niagra, which played a big part in the war of 1812.
Details are at navyweek.org.