Monday, September 15, 2008

BOP: What Were You Celebrating?

© 2008 Stan Spire


So another Battle of Plattsburgh (BOP) celebration has come and gone. But what was the point?

Remembering and honoring those who fought in a decisive battle on Lake Champlain during the War of 1812? Making people aware of the historical events, the forces that brought the United States into conflict with England?

Or was it just an opportunity to get money out of wallets in downtown Plattsburgh to boost the economy? With each celebration, what is more important: promoting history or hawking greasy Italian sausage sandwiches?

It’s a tired but true clich√©: Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

In the run up to the War of 1812 war hawks in congress wanted to do more than just make the British back off and leave American sea vessels alone. Some saw this as an opportunity for expansion to the north: Canada. Why, American soldiers would march in and be greeted as liberators from the big bad British.

It didn’t work out that way, even though former President Thomas Jefferson had stated "the acquisition of Canada this year, as far as the neighbourhood of Quebec, will be a mere matter of marching.” A cakewalk. Mission accomplished. The French people of Quebec obviously didn’t love the British but they were suspicious of American “liberators.”

Of course, history never repeats itself.

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