Tag Archives: New Orleans

Reflections on the Bicentennial of the War of 1812

Guest post by Donald R. Hickey

Flag 1812With the completion of a small conference on the legacy of the War of 1812 in Rostrevor, Northern Ireland, over the July 4th weekend, the commemoration of the Bicentennial of our “forgotten conflict” appears to be over. For those of us with a fascination with the contest, it has been quite a run. Although interest in the Bicentennial was limited mostly to sites in Ontario, Canada, and east of the Missouri River in the United States, there was plenty from 2012 to 2015 to keep students of the war busy. Although the significant battles took place mainly in the borderlands along the Canadian-American frontier, the Chesapeake Bay played a significant role in the war. It was only one of ten major theaters of operation, but it was the scene of the most British raids. These included the low point in the war for the United States—the British occupation of Washington, D.C. in August 1814 and the burning of the public buildings there—and a high point three weeks later—the successful defense of Baltimore, which produced “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Maryland did more than any other state to promote the Bicentennial. Maryland officials realized that this was their opportunity to publicize the central role that the Chesapeake had played in the war and in forging the national memory of the contest. Both the Maryland Historical Society and Fort McHenry did their part to see that Baltimore was included in the commemoration. As memorable as any event connected to the Bicentennial was the 2012 June weekend in 2012 when the tall ships docked in Baltimore. It was a rare treat for students of the war because it seemed that the conflict was the talk of the town. Annapolis followed up a year later with one of the most memorable conferences on the war. “From Enemies to Allies: An International Conference on the War of 1812 and Its Aftermath” generated attention not only in the United States and Canada but also in Great Britain.

The Bicentennial produced a flood of books on the war. Most dealt with the conflict’s military and naval history, but there were also some works on other aspects of the conflict. Once again the Chesapeake played a significant role. Especially noteworthy were the books published in the series Johns Hopkins Books on the War of 1812. There are now seven books in this series. These include several titles by Ralph Eshelman illuminating the war in the Chesapeake, Dave Curtis Skaggs’ fine study of William Henry Harrison’s western campaigns, Faye Kert’s pioneering book on privateering, Don Shomette’s seminal study of Commodore Joshua Barney’s flotilla in the Chesapeake, Carl Benn’s meticulously edited collection of native memoirs, and an illustrated history of the war that Connie D. Clark and I co-wrote. The Press also has published a short book that I wrote on Andrew Jackson and the Battle of New Orleans.

The War of 1812 in the Chesapeake: A Reference Guide to Historic Sites in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia, by Ralph E. Eshelman, Scott S. Sheads, and Donald R. Hickey

The Rockets’ Red Glare: An Illustrated History of the War of 1812, by Donald R. Hickey and Connie D. Clark

Will the flood of books and related activities during the Bicentennial mean that we no longer have to characterize the War of 1812 as a “forgotten conflict”? This is unlikely. After all, the war hardly compares in grandeur and importance with the Revolution and Civil War, those two great contests that are bookends for the period in U.S. history from 1775 to 1865. And there are many other reasons why the War of 1812 has slipped so deep into the recesses of the public memory. Its causes—maritime rights on the high seas in the Age of Sail—don’t resonate with Americans today. In addition, the war was waged inconclusively in far-flung theaters that stretched from Mackinac Island in northern Michigan to New Orleans on the Gulf Coast. Furthermore, it is not really clear who won the war (although everyone can agree that the biggest losers were the Indians, who were defeated both in Tecumseh’s War in the Old Northwest and the Creek War in the Old Southwest). Finally, the battle casualties cannot begin to compare with the losses in either the Revolution or the Civil War.

Flotilla: The Patuxent Naval Campaign in the War of 1812, by Donald G. Shomette
William Henry Harrison and the Conquest of the Ohio Country: Frontier Fighting in the War of 1812, by David Curtis Skaggs
Native Memoirs from the War of 1812: Black Hawk and William Apess, by Carl Benn
Privateering: Patriots and Profits in the War of 1812, by Faye M. Kert

What usually goes unappreciated in most treatments of the War of 1812 is its extraordinary legacy. If we measure wars by their consequences, then it’s hard to ignore the War of 1812. In the United States, the conflict boosted American self-confidence and nationalism, opened the door to territorial expansion, generated the birth of the American military establishment, and shaped the political landscape until the Civil War. Seven of the eleven presidents between James Madison and Abraham Lincoln either launched or boosted their public careers during the War of 1812, and anyone who had served in the field during the conflict had a significant advantage in any quest for elected public office.

The war also forged a national identity. The sayings and symbols that either originated in, or gained wide currency during, the war helped Americans understand who they were as a people and where their nation might be headed. Most of these sayings and symbols still resonate with us today. Among them are “Don’t give up the ship” (Captain James Lawrence’s words as he lay dying after the defeat of the USS Chesapeake by HMS Shannon); “We have met the enemy and he is ours” (Commodore Oliver H. Perry’s laconic report after defeating the British squadron on Lake Erie); “Old Ironsides” (which enjoyed four successful cruises during the war and even today is probably the best known U.S. warship); the Fort McHenry flag (long on display as the Smithsonian in Washington); “The Star-Spangled Banner” (which Congress named the national anthem in 1931); Uncle Sam (which became a common nickname for the U.S. government); the Kentucky rifle (which won an inflated reputation as game-changer and war-winner); Andrew Jackson (whose success in the field made him a symbol for the entire postwar era); and the Battle of New Orleans (which forged the myth of American victory in the war).

The war had no less an impact on Canada, for it was essentially that nation’s war of independence, and thus looms large in Canada’s public memory. Even Great Britain could not escape the war’s legacy. Although the British people quickly forgot about the conflict, the British government could not afford this luxury because it was responsible for defending Canada, and no one at the time thought this would be the last Anglo-American war. It did not take British leaders long to realize that the best way to protect Canada was to accommodate the United States, and this strategy ultimately paid off. Despite an often rocky road that included more than a couple war scares, by the end of the nineteenth century a genuine accord had blossomed between the two English-speaking nations. This turned into co-belligerency in World War I and a full-scale alliance in World War II that persists to this day.

The War of 1812 may have been a small and inconclusive war, but it left an outsized legacy that continues to shape the transatlantic world today. This is certainly reason enough to accord the war a bigger place in our public memory and in our history books. By all rights, the forgotten conflict should be forgotten no more.

hickeyDonald R. Hickey, whom the New Yorker described as “the dean of 1812 scholarship,” teaches history at Wayne State College in Nebraska. He has written seven books on the conflict, including Glorious Victory: Andrew Jackson and the Battle of New Orleans, The Rockets’ Red Glare: An Illustrated History of the War of 1812, and The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict. He served as series editor for JHUP’s Johns Hopkins Books on the War of 1812.




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Meet us in New Orleans: International Studies Association

If you are heading to the International Studies Association meeting in New Orleans from February 18 to 21, be sure to browse JHU Press books and journals at booth #414. Press authors will be stopping by, and we’ll offer a 30% discount throughout the meeting (and afterward using code HEZQ). We are also pleased to offer a special on-site ISA 2015 promotion for Scholars, Policymakers, and International Affairs. Read more about the conference on the ISA annual meeting website, and check out these new and forthcoming books from JHUP:

Special ISA 2015 offer for Scholars, Policymakers, and International Affairs, edited by Abraham F. Lowenthal and Mariano E. Bertucci: $20 including tax (0n site only, while supplies last)

lowenthalsketch1.indd“This meaty and well-crafted book offers innovative suggestions, based on the experiences of scholars with strong policy interests and officials with keen analytic skills, to strengthen both practice and theory by building more fruitful connections between academia and the policy world.” —Gen. Brent Scowcroft, former U.S. National Security Advisor

“Most foreign policy practitioners in the United States and elsewhere seem to avoid contact with academic theory, and scholars generally reciprocate; indeed this gap has widened in recent years. Lowenthal and Bertucci are right to argue that this gap can and should be bridged, to benefit both theory and practice. This book provides thoughtful, practical and timely suggestions for doing so.” —Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Harvard University, author of The Future of Power

“Lucid and engaging, this book seeks out voices from well-known academics and policymakers, along with experts whose work regularly bridges the gap between the worlds of international affairs and serious scholarship.”—Steve Reifenberg, Kellogg  Institute for International Studies, University of Notre Dame

“This timely volume is a ladder thrown across the yawning gap between academe and the policy world. It is packed with helpful, firsthand advice for those who might wish to cross over from those on both sides who have successfully made the journey.” —Jessica Mathews, President, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

 New and recent:

The Resilience of the Latin American Right, edited by Juan Pablo Luna and Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser
Mobilizing Democracy: Globalization and Citizen Protest, by Paul Almeida

New and recent:

Disease Diplomacy: International Norms and Global Health Security, by Sara E. Davies, Adam Kamradt-Scott, and Simon Rushton
Defect or Defend: Military Responses to Popular Protests in Authoritarian Asia, by Terence Lee
Thinking beyond Boundaries: Transnational Challenges to U.S. Foreign Policy, edited by Hugh Liebert, John Griswold, and Isaiah Wilson III





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Meet us in New Orleans: Society for Classical Studies

If you are heading to the Classics meeting in New Orleans from January 8 to 11, be sure to visit booth #201 to browse JHU Press books and journals. Press authors will be stopping by, and we’ll offer a 30% discount throughout the meeting. We’ll also be celebrating the publication of the first books in our new series, Witness to Ancient History, edited by Greg Aldrete. Read more about the conference on the Society for Classical Studies annual meeting website, and check out these new and forthcoming books from JHUP:

New and forthcoming in our series
Edited by Gregory S. Aldrete

tonerThe Day Commodus Killed a Rhino: Understanding the Roman Games
by Jerry Toner

“Jerry Toner is an ideal author to present this fascinating subject to a broad readership. He masterfully combines allure and accessibility as he incorporates up-to-date scholarship with cultural and sociopolitical sophistication. Drawing on his earlier works on leisure and Rome, Toner demolishes traditional one-dimensional assumptions about stereotypically mad, tyrannical emperors, bloodthirsty, sadistic mobs, doomed gladiators, and politically impotent masses.”—Donald G. Kyle, University of Texas–Arlington, author of Sport and Spectacle in the Ancient World


hamelThe Battle of Arginusae: Victory at Sea and Its Tragic Aftermath in the Final Years of the Peloponnesian War
by Debra Hamel

“A captivating account of the battle of Arginusae and its fateful consequences for the Athenians in their great struggle with Sparta. Hamel is well-versed in Greek (and Athenian) history of the classical era and is an authority on the Athenian strategia, the board of generals who commanded armies and fleets. The Battle of Arginusae is a gripping read.”—Lawrence A. Tritle, Loyola Marymount University, author of A New History of the Peloponnesian War


Approaches to Greek Myth, second edition, edited by Lowell Edmunds
Voices at Work: Women, Performance, and Labor in Ancient Greece, by Andromache Karanika
Homeric Speech and the Origins of Rhetoric, by Rachel Ahern Knudsen
Environmental Problems of the Greeks and Romans: Ecology in the Ancient Mediterranean, second edition, by Donald Hughes

Ex Oriente Lex: Near Eastern Influences on Ancient Greek and Roman Law, by Raymond Westbrook, edited by Deborah Lyons and Kurt Raaflaub
Children and Childhood in Classical Athens, second edition, by Mark Golden
Patients and Healers in the High Roman Empire, by Ido Israelowich
Rome’s Christian Empress: Galla Placidia Rules at the Twilight of the Empire, by Joyce E. Salisbury

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University presses, scholarly publishing, the Big Easy (and what’s not so easy)

By Greg Britton

jackScholarly publishing is a tough business. In addition to all the forces arrayed against it—shrinking bookstore and library markets, new and untested formats, competition for attention online, and books that by their nature have limited audiences—publisher also face stiff competition. We compete with each other for the best books and best authors. And, like any competitor, we like to win. You would think this would make publishing a lonely and isolating vocation. The reality is really quite different.

Scholarly publishing, especially university press publishing, has always had a generous side to it. You might think that it is because the stakes are usually pretty low, but I don’t think that’s it. Those of us who work in the field of scholarly publishing actually have far more in common with each other than we sometimes think. We share missions that are remarkably similar. To a person, we are passionate about books—in their many forms—and we truly believe that the work we do in connecting writers and readers makes a difference. Because of this, those of us in university press publishing think of others who work in this business less as rivals than as colleagues.

This is never more evident than it is at the annual meeting of the Association of American University Presses, an organization that shares an acronym with the larger American Association of University Professors. Our “AAUP” is an organization that promotes the work and influence of university presses. It provides cooperative opportunities for those presses and helps them fulfill their shared commitments to scholarship, the academy, and society. The organization is made up of about 130 member presses mostly housed at universities, but some based at scholarly societies and museums. As presses they are active across many scholarly disciplines, including the humanities, social sciences, arts, and sciences.

Within that group there is remarkable variety, scale, and scope. The AAUP includes large and trade-focused presses like Yale and Harvard, small literary houses like the University of Iowa Press and Trinity University Press, and art houses like Getty Publications. Some have robust journals programs—like Hopkins—while others, including Michigan and Purdue, deliver their books almost exclusively through digital means.

Where business rivals closely guard their secrets—the products, processes, and strategies for maximizing profit—university presses take a different approach. They understand their shared role in the increasingly complex world of scholarly communication. AAUP presses are always looking for cooperative opportunities, ways they can leverage their collective energies to do something innovative and effective. The University of Chicago Press, for example, distributes print and e-books for a hundred other scholarly publishers. Project MUSE, a program here at Hopkins, distributes numerous other publishers’ journal and book content to libraries worldwide.

This cooperative spirit is never more evident than at the AAUP annual meeting, convening this weekend in New Orleans around the theme of “Open to Debate.” At this meeting, about 500 staff members from member presses will gather to compare notes, argue about strategy, and share ideas about the perils and possibilities of our shared future. As we supplement old business models with rapidly evolving new ones, these conversations have never been more essential. The goal isn’t to settle on a single approach. Few of us think there is such a silver bullet. Instead, the hope is that, through this collegial exchange of diverse perspectives, we might find our own path forward.

For those who are interested, the AAUP will record and share many of the discussions on its website (AAUPnet.org). Individuals in the group are also active on their Twitter feed at #AAUP14. I hope you will join us—virtually or in person—where we can continue the conversation about what in scholarly publishing is immutable and what is open for debate.

Greg Britton is the editorial director at Johns Hopkins University Press. He can be followed on Twitter at @gmbritton.



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