The North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources has established a team of staff and citizen members to plan for the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. The team’s mission is to develop events, activities, and materials to educate the public about “America’s Second War for Independence” and the role of North Carolina and North Carolinians in that war.
The War of 1812 strengthened the young United States and firmly established its position in the world. America held together against a major European power. The boundaries of the U.S. were strengthened and it gained international standing. After the war’s conclusion the United States took a more isolationist stance. For the next several decades, the nation focused on internal improvements and exploration, and, pursuant to the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, largely withdrew from European and world politics.
While North Carolina is not known as a major theater of operations, the British made coastal forays into the state, landing briefly at Ocracoke and Portsmouth Islands. North Carolinians such as Otway Burns and Johnston Blakeley were prominent in the naval war. North Carolina native Benjamin Forsyth, the brilliant commander of the 1st U.S. Rifle Regiment, died in battle in Canada. The 10th U.S. Infantry Regiment, comprised mostly of North Carolinians, served in the northern campaign, although not in combat. Moreover, Tar Heels—including a detachment of Cherokees led by Chief Junaluska—helped to defeat American Indian allies of the British in the mid-South, consequently easing the way for American expansion westward.
Thus, in the long view of history, the war preserved American territorial and political integrity, and helped to set the fledgling new republic on the road to greatness. North Carolinians did their part in that complex and significant struggle.