September 16 1814: Francis Scott Key and An American Anthem

On September 16 1814, the British marines guarding Francis Scott Key leave his sloop and he is able to return, with his companions, to Baltimore. Key takes a room in the Indian Queen Hotel at the southeast corner of Hanover and Baltimore Streets. He has with him the notes and lines for the poem that he was moved to write on seeing the American flag yet waiving over the ramparts of Fort McHenry on September 14 1814. He will revise and copy his poem at the hotel. He will first call it the Defence of Fort McHenry. Later, it will be known as the Star Spangled Banner, the American national anthem. The image above may be a copy of the poem written by him. Continue reading

February 3 1814: Frost Fair – Day Three

December 31 1813: Pope of Holland House.

On December 31 1813, John Whishaw writes to Smithson Tennant. Whishaw was a prominent lawyer and force in Whig society, being known as “the Pope of Holland House.” Smithson Tennant was an English chemist who discovered the elements iridium and osmium.

I am afraid that peace is still extremely doubtful. It is even problematical whether Lord Castlereagh’s mission be really pacific, and whether he may not have been sent for the purpose of reconciling dif- ferences and keeping Austria from the Alliance. Madame de Stael asserts that the Ministers here are “-tout a fait a la guerre,” and though she is a person of no great judgment, yet, as she sees a great number of people and has various means of information, I am afraid that her opinion is not altogether unfounded.

People arrived lately from Paris say there is great discontent there, but not of that kind that produces an explosion of popular feeling. It evaporated in a cold reception of the Emperor at public places, and a few lively epigrams.

In the provinces there is great despair on account of the conscription, but at the same time much apathy. The alarm was considerable for about six weeks, but the delay of the Allies in crossing the Rhine, and the ignorance in which people were for some time kept as to what was passing in Holland, gave them time to breathe ; and the first panic was quite over. The terms to which Buonaparte had agreed as a preliminary basis, exclusively of Colonial compensations, are said to have been the following : To abandon Germany, Spain, Holland, and Italy, and restore the Valais to Switzerland. To give up Naples and the Ecclesiastical States to their own sovereigns ; and the Tyrol, the Illyrian provinces, and Piedmont, together with Genoa, to the Archduke Francis of Austria, who has married a Sardinian princess. The Milanese to be erected into a princi- pality for the Princess of Bavaria, who is married to Eugene Beauharnais ; and the Ecclesiastical States to be formed into a detached sovereignty for Murat ; the Netherlands and Antwerp to remain with France. I know not whether you will be interested In this diplomatic detail, in which there is probably, as usual, a mixture of truth and falsehood. It is to be observed that these terms were agreed on before the Revolution in Holland, at which time, it is said, the Allies were not unwilling to consent to the restoration of Louis Buonaparte as a separate and wholly independent sovereign. They had a jealousy of Holland becoming a sort of province to England, by means of the restoration of the House of Orange, but as that event has now taken place without the assistance of the Allies, a new and very serious difficulty has arisen, by which the progress of the negotiation must be much impeded. It is probably to this that Buonaparte alluded in speaking of “delays not attributable to France.”

December 30 1813: Buffalo Burning!

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On December 30 1813, British troops, Canadian militia and Native warriors cross the Niagara River at about midnight and attack Buffalo and Black Rock. The American militia frightened by the night attack soon disperse. The battle over the British burn Buffalo in retaliation for the fires and destruction of Newark. Black Rock is also burned. Alan Taylor in his excellent Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, & Indian Allies (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2010) describes what happened two hundred years ago:  Continue reading