Commemorating the War of 1812

How Would You Vote?

NPCA board member Deny Galvin prepares to light “The Messenger” during a cannon demonstration at Fort McHenry National Monument in Baltimore, Maryland.

NPCA board member Deny Galvin prepares to light “The Messenger” during a cannon demonstration at Fort McHenry National Monument in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo © Joy Oakes/NPCA.

Did you know that the most narrowly declared war in our country’s history was the War of 1812? England’s war with France resulted in Britain imposing severe trade restrictions on the United States. England seized American ships and their freight and began forcing American sailors to crew British Navy ships. Finally, England supported American Indian Tribes to restrict western expansion by America. Our young country was in turmoil about how to respond: Continue through diplomacy or declare war?

Voting to declare war against another country is one of the most difficult decisions anyone could make.  People’s lives are at stake. Could issues be worked out diplomatically? How does someone determine what is worth fighting for? Throughout history, political leaders debated these questions then cast their vote for or against war.

Now you can participate in this important debate. In honor of the bicentennial of the War of 1812, the National Park Service is unveiling a new interactive web feature called “Cast Your Vote.” The site offers the viewpoints of eight historical figures from the time, including President James Madison, Speaker of the House Henry Clay, and even the writer of the Star-Spangled Banner, Frances Scott Key, with their perspectives on war with England.  After listening to the debate, you can cast your own vote for or against the war.

Originally designed to reach a young audience, NPS produced school curriculum materials to use with “Cast Your Vote.”  However, with the war’s bicentennial approaching this June, the Park Service is encouraging people of all ages to learn more about the War of 1812 by playing the game and casting their vote.

The final tally will be announced at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine on June 18, 2012, exactly 200 years after the United States declared war against Great Britain.  To learn more about the history of the War of 1812 and to cast your vote, visit www.nps.gov/fomc/castyourvote/index.cfm

About the Author

Pam Goddard is Chesapeake and Virginia program manager for NPCA's Mid-Atlantic Regional Office