Saturday 17 March 2012

The United States Invades Canada

Britain stood alone against a monstrous tyrant who had brought the whole of Europe under his power. Tens of thousands had died as a result of the dictator's ruthless efforts to control the continent. His forces were engaged in a bloody invasion of Russia. The United States stood aside in a neutral stance. It could not be long before Britain itself would fall under the power of the dictator. What year am I writing about? 1940 - when Britain stood alone against the monstrous Hitler and the Nazis? Well no, actually. 1812. When Napoleon had crushed Europe and only Great Britain stood against him and his forces of oppression, Bonaparte was marching on Moscow and the Americans were neutral and trying to continue trade with the French regime although the Royal Navy was blockading the French. The world was at a turning point and the Americans decided to fight Great Britain to resist the trade restrictions as well as seeing an opportunity to annex Canada and deal with the Native Americans whom the British were supporting in the face of American expansion into their territory. Thus began The War Of 1812 (which actually lasted until 1815). The Canadian Post Office has announced that it will issue a series of stamps to commemorate the events of the war which saw the British and the Canadians repel the Americans' attempts to invade and take over Canada. The successful outcome of the war gave Empire-oriented Canadians confidence and this led to a new sense of Canadian nationalism and this is the reason that the Canadian Post Office is making such a big philatelic occasion of the war. The first stamps in the series, a se-tenant pair, will be issued on 15 June 2012 and will depict one of the leading British commanders, Major General Isaac Brock, a Guernsey man (this will be a joint issue between Canada and Guernsey) and War Chief Tecumseh, a Shawnee, who had led an Ohio-Nations confederation which was trying to stop the Americans encroaching on First Nations lands. The American president, Madison, complained to the US Congress on 1 June 1812 about a list of grievances against Great Britain, including trade restrictions, and the Congress agreed to a declaration of war which Madison signed into law on 18 June 1812. This was the first, but not the last, time that The United States declared war on another country. On 12 July 1812 General William Hull led American troops in an invasion of Canada and occupied the town of Sandwich (now Windsor, Ontario). However, by August the force had retreated to Detroit and was captured by a force led by Brock and Tecumseh. The Americans lost control of Detroit and most of Michigan as a result. Several months later, the Americans launched a second invasion, this time on the Niagara Peninsula but were again defeated at the Battle of Queenston Heights but unfortunately General Brock was killed there. We will continue this account of the war in future blogs as the Canadian stamp programme progresses.

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