A Forgotten War Forgotten No More
History. It’s a snore. Or, it can be, when one lives in one of the cities that is the cradle of the founding of the United States.
Take a typical tour in Charleston (or anywhere, for that matter.) It’s part fiction, part truth. The guide’s job is to tell an engaging story. To entertain. To give the tourists something to remember.
But, there are people in Charleston who are passionate about history. Who devote entire Saturdays to sitting in dim rooms in torturous chairs listening to lectures about the past. Who are so besotted with what happened way back when that they care enough to sit through endless minutiae about a forgotten war.
Two sets of people probably remember much about the War of 1812. Canadians remember it, because they trounced the United States’ attempted invasion. Native Americans recall it, because it marked the beginning of the loss of the lands of their fathers and mothers.
Americans and British peoples don’t remember it, because it is a speed bump in the roll call of our history. We have sexier things to dwell upon.
Charleston was an odd place to hold a symposium on the War of 1812. We had a Pulitzer Prize winning author as a speaker, and multiple history luminaries on a panel. C-SPAN hung around for the entire day, broadcasting every lecture, question and answer.
We ended up with numb butts on a pretty Saturday because I am a history geek, and MTM humors me. I delighted in the deluge of forgotten nuggets of information and uncelebrated names. More than once, I was agog that serious students of history live among the glitter and glitz that’s often thrown out for tourists in a unique American city.
Charleston really had nothing much to do with the War of 1812. But, for a gorgeous gift of a Saturday, we remembered the lives lost. The traditions destroyed. The ambition that it took to make the country we have today.
This post is part of a series on Charleston, South Carolina, the place I consider my hometown. A local’s-eye-view. Take notes, potential visitors. The first post in the series is here, and the second post is here.