Watching the fireworks, I recalled reading that the Duke of Wellington thought Congreve Rockets were silly and didn’t use them, so if the British had sent him over the America to lead their forces, we’d be sitting in folding chairs looking up at an empty sky.
But this led to the larger question for those in the know: would the war have had a different outcome?
Had Wellington commanded at the bombardment of Fort McHenry, it is possible that we would not be stuck with that execrable song, sung to the tune of an English drinking song (one must be drunk to attempt to sing it), for the national anthem.
However, fireworks (not Congreve rockets) were well established as displays by the eighteenth century and their absence at Fort McHenry would not have had an impact on celebrating Independence day.
It is remotely possible that, had Wellington been in command on this side of the Atlantic, the war might have been more of a clear-cut victory for the British, but it is not a foregone conclusion. The army that wandered up the Chesapeake Bay was already victorious and Wellington would not necessarily have been available in Canada (where the English/Canadian forces tended to lose (after some initial victories) in the U.S. while the Yanks tended to lose (after some initial victories) in Canada.
On the other hand, it was not a war that either nation was excited about and once enough blood had been shed, both sides were pretty willing to settle.
The War of 1812 was a direct effect of the Napoleonic Wars. The British Empire created certain policies to fight France and the United States opposed those policies. But once Napoleon was defeated, the British voluntarily abolished the policies, and while the causes for the war still existed in a theoretical sense, the actual circumstances were no longer there. Being as neither side saw a likelihood of winning a decisive victory, the war just kind of wound down.
The chief difference might be that if Wellington had been at New Orleans he likely wouldn’t have commanded a frontal assault on dug in troops. Which would mean that there’d be a different song we’d be without.
Well, doesn’t the very fact that British didn’t send anybody as able as Wellington to America show just how unimportant the War of 1812 seemed to them?
In any event, it’s quite possible that the British could have achieved a more clear-cut victory… but there was no chance the British were going to recapture their old colonies. Similarly, the U.S. could have done better in many respects, but there was no realistic hope of capturing Canadian provinces.
So, it was a stupid, unnecessary (though probably inevitable) war that settled nothing.
Bleh. I know that I don’t really have a voice in this, but I hatehatehate “The Star Spangled Banner”- I don’t know why, it just seems so discordant and tuneless to me, not to mention way too slow. It’s probably completely irrational, but every time I hear it the rhythm, or the meter, or something rubs me up the wrong way. Bleh.
Mind you, I’m not so hot on “God Save the Queen”, either.
[SIZE]But I think we should bring back the verse about smashing the Scots. :D[/SIZE]
Hm! I always thought that song was about [who [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_New_York_City_%281665-1783%29]conquered the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam on Manhattan, and renamed it New York.](]James, the Duke of York (later King James II),[/url)
Also, it’s PC-fashionable to despise it for glorifying war – “The rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air.” At least you can’t say that about “America the Beautiful.”
Hm! Never knew about [url=]that either!
I did know that verse 2 –
– was deleted at some point as being “too nationalistic.” Regarding which I agree with George Orwell’s criticism: “Not to have a national anthem would be logical, but if we are to have one its point should be to say that we are Good and the enemy is Bad.”
That’s even better than the 3rd verse of the SSB (yes, there’s more than 1):
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
That means *you * blokes. Well, the Hessians too, okay.
And winning the Battle of New Orleans* gave the U.S. (and, even more, General Jackson) some bragging points. Still, the U.S. started the war with the slogan, “On to Canada!” and ended with “No inch of territory lost or ceded!”
The War of 1812 was pretty much pointless, but, by the standards of international conflicts between powers as large as Great Britain and (even then) the U.S., it was relatively painless, and some good did come of it: The Yanks and the Brits worked out of their systems most of the bad blood left over from the Revolutionary War, negotiated mutually acceptable terms of coexistence, and went on to enjoy a “special relationship” with each other from 1815 to the present. Part of that settlement was that the Americans, who had regarded Canada as a sort of leftover business from the Revolution, to be absorbed whenever the U.S. grew strong enough, now accepted its right to exist indefinitely as a separate entity – resulting in what is now a cheerfully friendly relationship and the world’s longest undefended national border. All things considered, it could have gone much worse.
*Two weeks after the Treaty of Ghent had ended the war, but due to the slowness of communication at the time . . . Well, I bet all those dead soldiers’ families got a big laugh out of that!
Not to mention eating the President’s dinner off his own table.
The US national anthem is unsingable except by the trained voice. Only an eejit writes a national anthem with a range of an octave and a fifth - and it carries on banging on the high notes. On the other hand, God Save the Queen is dull, dull, dull. :rolleyes: