In case you are unaware I am a history nut………and I try to sneak in some historical info into many of my posts. I have a degree in political history so I must educate whenever the need arises.
Today we celebrate the Declaration of Independence……so what better time to give a short history lesson?
We American’s think we know all about the early days of the republic……most of us do not have any idea of the situation in those early days….I am talking about the time between the two wars, 1780-1811. We are taught about the presidents and some of the legislation in those times but there is so much more going on.
I will attempt to take you back to those days and fill in the blanks that our educational system seems to leave out of the curricula.
We are taught a little about the Louisiana Purchase, Lewis and Clark or the Sedition Act or Burr killing Hamilton in a duel then we move on to the War of 1812…..but ask yourself….is that it for our history up to the newest war? Three of the really big stories that we are seldom taught is the Barbary War, the Burr Conspiracy and the establishment of the Republic of West Florida………
First the Barbary War………….
The year is 1801 and the pirates operating on the North Coast of Africa had been a pain in the US butt for years…..they had hijack ships and kidnap sailors to hold for ransom……Jefferson is elected and he felt like he had to do something……and his decision was the first time the US goes to war on its own (and we are still doing it)…….
The plan was to send an invasion force across the desert and attack the pacha of Tripoli (Libya) from the land while a naval force entered into the bay as a diversion…….
The trek to Tripoli was arduous and after a month of desert walking the Marines come to town. 1805 the Marines along with 500 mercenaries arrive and do battle…..and after a short battle the city was captured making it the first time that an American flag was raised in another country.
Some have written that this was Jefferson’s attempt to trade without paying to play…….the old “free trade” con.
Next on to the birth of a new republic…….
1806 September-October – Jefferson receives further information from a variety of sources in Pennsylvania and New York, including Generals William Eaton and James Wilkinson, that Aaron Burr is organizing a military expedition against Spanish possessions for the purpose of separating western territories from the United States. Eaton, a veteran of the recent Tripolitan War, claims that Burr tried to recruit him. Wilkinson, commander of United States military forces in the West, provides information about the conspiracy after having been implicated in it himself. He does not specifically name Burr.
November 27. Jefferson issues a proclamation declaring that “sundry persons, citizens of the U.S. or resident within the same, are conspiring & confederating…against the dominions of Spain” and requiring that all military and civil officials of all states and territories of the United States prevent “the carrying on such expedition or enterprise by all lawful means within their power.”
1807 – January 17. Aaron Burr is captured near New Orleans. He escapes but is recaptured and imprisoned. In April, Burr is charged with treason and tried in Richmond in a federal circuit court presided over by John Marshall. Burr is acquitted. Later, with other charges pending, Burr escapes to England.
There are rumblings that all might not be as they appear ……that Jefferson had a hard on for Burr any way and this was a good excuse to get rid of him.
Then came the death of Meriwether Lewis of the famous team of Lewis and Clark that explored the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase.
The intrigue surrounding the famous explorer’s untimely death has spawned a cottage industry of books and articles, with experts from a variety of fields, including forensics and mental health, weighing in. Scholars have reconstructed lunar cycles to prove that the innkeeper’s wife couldn’t have seen what she said she saw that moonless night. Black powder pistols have been test-fired, forgeries claimed and mitochondrial DNA extracted from living relatives. Yet even now, precious little is known about the events of October 10, 1809, after Lewis – armed with several pistols, a rifle and a tomahawk – stopped at a log cabin lodging house known as Grinder’s Stand.
He and Clark had finished their expedition three years earlier; Lewis, who was by then a governor of the large swath of land that constituted the Upper Louisiana Territory, was on his way to Washington, D.C. to settle financial matters. By some accounts, Lewis arrived at the inn with servants; by others, he arrived alone. That night, Mrs. Grinder, the innkeeper’s wife, heard several shots. She later said she saw a wounded Lewis crawling around, begging for water, but was too afraid to help him. He died, apparently of bullet wounds to the head and abdomen, shortly before sunrise the next day. One of his traveling companions, who arrived later, buried him nearby.
Next is the Republic of West Florida………
In the early morning hours of September 23, 1810, a group of armed settlers led by Philemon Thomas attacked the Spanish fort at Baton Rouge. After a brief skirmish, the attackers took control of the fort. Three days later, the Republic of West Florida declared its independence.
Three days after West Florida completed the formation of its national government, the United States suddenly acted. On October 27, 1810, President James Madison issued a proclamation claiming the territory for the United States. This was done without the approval of Congress or through negotiation with either the Republic or Spain and its legality was the subject of serious question.
Madison’s actions were very controversial. He had sent military forces into the territory of a friendly nation without the consent of Congress. This was technically an act of war.
Many suspected that Madison had encouraged the revolution in West Florida. The fact that West Florida’s president Fulwar Skipwith had been American diplomat to France and political ally of both Jefferson and Madison seemed to indicate this was the case. In 1811, the western part of West Florida was attached to the Territory of Orleans, which became the State of Louisiana in 1812. The eastern sections became part of present day Mississippi and Alabama.
Just a couple of the events that history has forgotten……..all are full of deception, intrigue and adventure…..these are events that all Americans should be aware of and the historical significance each played in the forming of our nation.
Early American history is fascinating….once you get past the BS that is more about indoctrination than education.
Read a book people!