On the 200th anniversary of the declaration of war against Britain, the New London County Historical Society launched a new website “Connecticut and the War of 1812.” Available at: http://warof1812ct.org, the internet resource is a third component sharing information about this important turning point in the state and the nation’s history.
“THE ROCKETS’ RED GLARE” commemorates the bicentennial year of the beginning of the War of 1812 and was created by a partnership of the historical society with Mystic Seaport, the Stonington Historical Society, the New London Maritime Society, and the Lyman Allyn Art Museum. These museums and historical societies have worked together in creating a book which has just been released, and an exhibition which opened at the Lyman Allyn on Friday 6 July.
Edward Baker, Executive Director of the New London County Historical Society, describes the website as, “A little bit of the book, and a little bit of the exhibition,” whose aim is to share this information as broadly as possible. “If you search through most books on the War of 1812 and look for references to Connecticut you won’t find many. But if you look at our website and check just the listing of British ships stationed off of New London you’ll see this was not a minor effort.” Web visitors can navigate the timeline to see the number of local events and how they intertwine with national and international events.
Creating the website was funded through a grant from the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut. The book and exhibition are supported by grants from the Connecticut Humanities Council, the Coby Foundation and the Edgard and Geraldine Feder Foundation.
While most Americans were shielded from the war, the people living along the coast of Connecticut were repeatedly attacked and actively engaged. In the last days of the American Revolution almost the entire town of New London was burned by the British (under Benedict Arnold) and the defenders at Fort Griswold in Groton were massacred. Just thirty years later, the same enemy is visible on Long Island Sound every day for almost two years. “That is the reality we are trying to bring to our local audience,” added Baker.
The exhibition showcases items from the collections of each of the partners. The 16-star American flag that flew over the defenders of Stonington is featured in the exhibit. The victories of our tiny Navy against the largest Navy in the world fostered a sense of national identity that had not previously existed. The War of 1812 inspired “The Star-Spangled Banner” and laid the groundwork for a national patriotism that is still felt today.