This evening the Blandford Historical Society hosted a presentation given by Professor Nicholas Aieta on the subject of The War of 1812 Bicentennial and its relevance to Blandford. The professor gave an excellent brief distillation of a complicated subject matter, he was charming and funny. He reminded me that the War of 1812 produced our national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner” by Francis Scott Key and that we, as a young nation, tried to invade and capture Canada. I find that to be so amusing. I don’t know why, but it tickles me.
He spoke about our two competing political parties at the time, the Federalists versus the Democratic Republicans. The Federalists were actually against the War and since Blandford was predominantly Federalist, thus didn’t support the War cause and didn’t support sending any militia’s either. Which surprised me simply because when I arrived at the Historical Society, I joked that Blandford was too busy bringing in the crops, tending the farm animals and starting the various industries that were to become important to its future development and prosperity, to be involved in war-time activities. Blandford started being settled in 1735 by hardcore Presbyterian church worshippers who came from Hopkinton near Worcester, MA. The country was very rough out here and between the wildlife, the rough mountainous terrain, and cold long winters, Blandfordites were more apt to be pacifists than war activists. They had enough on their plates and I’m sure, couldn’t understand how a naval war could be that politically necessary. Their lives were already difficult just carving out a future on their mountain.
What really struck my sense of history, was that basically the support or the anti-War sentiment predominantly rested on political party affiliation. The more things change the more they remain the same. The state of Massachusetts was politically divided over the War of 1812 as was the rest of our new country, makes me think of how divided we were over previous military engagements such as Vietnam or Iraq. According to the professor, we are much more polite and civil with each other in present day as opposed to political disagreements back in 1812. I had to suppress a small chuckle, but the professor seemed sincere so I squelched my chuckle. Apparently, a newspaper publisher from Baltimore, Maryland left his city to continue publishing his anti-war op-eds from the safety of Washington D.C. because the war supporters attacked his publishing house and it got very violent. Our bill of rights were still relatively new, so it was a big deal, the attacks on the publishing house were a direct attack on the freedom of the press, pretty big implications for a nascent democracy.
I really enjoyed the presentation and it was especially nice that it was held just 5 minutes walking distance from my house. Life in a small town, I really enjoy it.