Celebrating the Boston Bicentennial of the War of 1812

June 1, 2012 by

Festivals & Events, Things To Do

USS Constitution

USS Constitution. Photo courtesy of Charles McCain via Flickr.

The War of 1812 (sometimes called the ‘Second War of Independence’) is often remembered for two things: the burning of the White House and the writing of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’ both in 1814. The exact motivations behind the war with Britain are a bit more complicated, as they involved trading policies, numerous Native American tribes, and Canadian territories. President James Madison officially declared war on June 18th.

Old Ironsides (a.k.a. the USS Constitution), the oldest commissioned warship still afloat, was one of the few ships America had to stand up to the British Empire, which had quite a few more. You can visit the ship and museum today.

Boston, as one of the most important cities in early American history, is a key place to be for the War of 1812 bicentennial events. From June 30-July 5, 2012, Boston will host a Tall Rig Ships event, where Old Ironsides will lead a parade of naval ships from around the world through six ports – with a special salute on Independence Day. The event coincides with the popular Boston Harborfest.

The celebration lasts all week, with highlights including US Coast Guard rescue demonstrations (June 30), weapon drills in period costumes (July 3), a 21-gun salute, and the Blue Angels flyover (July 4), as well as performances by drum corps and marching bands – and public tours of some of the vessels.

Boston isn’t the only celebration location; there will also be a Blue Angels airshow and another Tall Ship gathering in Baltimore, with New York City, New Orleans, New London, and Norfolk commemorating the war’s events as well. Even Canada is hosting celebrations. Washington, D.C.‘s Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery will display related paintings in a new 1812 exhibit. So if you can’t be in Boston, there are plenty of other options for where to celebrate the victories of the Second War of Independence!

 -Natalie Grant

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