This blog may make blog history because in a world that more likely talks about contemporary politics, love lives, instant celebrities and gossip, this might be the first-ever blog to talk about the impact of the Treaty of Ghent.
Before you move on, know that your life is affected by the treaty that was signed in 1814 –– not so much for what it said but, as new research is showing, what it didn’t say.
A couple off weeks ago I wrote about the anniversary of The Battle of New Orleans and noted the historic curiosity in the timing: "Whenever the Battle of New Orleans is the topic, the discussion usually includes the observation that, unknown to the battle’s participants, a treaty that officially ended the war had been signed weeks before, on Christmas Eve 1814."
Later I wrote: "That the battle was fought over a war that no longer existed has caused an occasional ironic footnote although a skirmish in which 2,000 young British men were killed or wounded is not easily dismissed to irony."
Some readers have taken exception to my comments, including Michael Huete, a former New Orleanian now living in Virginia, where he is a contractor with the Navy and obviously knows his history.
Heuete makes reference to a 1999 book, The Battle of New Orleans: Andrew Jackson and America’s First Military Victory by Robert V. Remini. Remini’s book, according to Huete, benefited from the declassification of many British military and diplomatic documents that had not been included in previous historical accounts of the battle. Among other items, the declassified documents revealed that:
1. The Treaty of Ghent stated that it did not go into effect until it was ratified by both nation’s governing bodies. At the time of the Battle of New Orleans, neither the U.S. nor the U.K. had ratified it, so the war was still officially on.
2. It was part of the overall British strategy to delay Parliamentary ratification of the treaty and continue fighting until they had captured New Orleans and several key forts along the Mississippi River, thus obtaining control of the Mississippi and preventing westward expansion of the U.S. The British figured that the Americans would be too war-weary to resume hostilities after the loss of the Mississippi and would simply cede the majority of the Louisiana Purchase to Britain.
Huete adds, “The Battle of New Orleans, far from being an historical anomaly without geopolitical influence, actually stopped the British plan for conquest of the Mississippi and enabled the subsequent western expansion of the United States.”
To that I will add the sobering thought of how the world would be different had the United States not expanded westward. We would be a smaller, weaker nation. How different would the outcome of the world wars had been? Who would rule Europe? Curiously, would the United Sates have been able to fight alongside England twice in the 20th century had it not been able to grow in the 19th?
I know this isn’t the kind of stuff that blogs talk about; the battle is old news. But although history can be ancient, revelations from ongoing research are quite contemporary, even cutting-edge. Now we’re talking blogging.
NEW: SEE ERROL LABORDE’S MARDI GRAS VIDEO HERE.
Krewe: The Early New Orleans Carnival- Comus to Zulu by Errol Laborde is available at all area bookstores. Books can also be ordered via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or (504) 895-2266).
WATCH INFORMED SOURCES, FRIDAYS AT 7 P.M., REPEATED AT 11:30 P.M. ON WYES-TV, CHANNEL 12.