An anti-British cause.
It was during the War of 1812 — sometimes referred to as the Second War of Independence — more than 40 years prior to Cooke’s efforts to reestablish Putnam County in 1854, which had resulted in the county seat bearing his name.
Now, 200 years after the war, the Cookeville History Museum is celebrating Tennessee’s involvement in the 32-month conflict with a new exhibit — “Becoming the Volunteer State: Tennessee in the War of 1812” — Saturday with a reception from 1-3 p.m.
“People say, ‘What’s Cookeville’s connection to the War of 1812?’” said Judy Duke, administrator of Cookeville museums.
“Obviously, there was no such thing as an established Putnam County or Cookeville in 1812… but the man Cookeville was named after fought in the War of 1812 along with Andrew Jackson in New Orleans.
“So can we say Cooke fought from Putnam County? No. He was still living in Culpeper County, Va.”
The traveling exhibit, funded in part by a Humanities Tennessee grant, comes from the Tennessee State Museum, which had collaborated with the Tennessee War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission.
“It has traveled all over the state, and we’re just fortunate to have it here,” Duke said.
The exhibit features panels, artifacts and artwork, including an 1890 illustration of the Battle of New Orleans; a flintlock dueling pistol used by Samuel G. Smith (who was an aide to Gen. Jackson) at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815; and a sword that was presented to Jackson by the Tennessee legislature in 1819 for his victory over the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814.
Duke noted the significance of the War of 1812 in Tennessee.
“That’s how we got our nickname, the ‘Tennessee volunteers,’” she said. “The government asked for volunteers, and Tennesseans poured out in droves.”
Tennesseans like Cooke, whose family had moved to Maury County in 1810.
“On Sept. 20, 1814, he enlisted in the War of 1812,” Duke said. “The fact that he fought with Andy Jackson, and they won the Battle of New Orleans — that’s really a connection to Cookeville.”
In 1816, after the war, Cooke moved to the area that would become Putnam County, becoming one of its most prominent pioneer citizens.
As a member of the General Assembly during the 1853-54 session, he fought to reestablish Putnam as a county in 1854 since its original formation in 1842 had been declared unconstitutional.
Duke also spoke of the War of 1812’s national importance.
“Looking at it from the bigger picture, the British burned Washington, D.C., and that’s when Dolly Madison, who was First Lady at the time, saved a portrait of George Washington that hangs in the White House now,” she said.
The national anthem is also a product of the war.
“A song that most children learn is the Star-Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key,” Duke said.
The War of 1812 exhibit may be viewed through Dec. 14 at the history museum, located at 40 E. Broad St.
The museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.