Meet the Rock Stars of 1812

With Broad Stripes and Bright Stars

 War of 1812 Exhibit Now Open at the Maryland Historical Society

For the 200th Anniversary of the War

Baltimore, Maryland (September 15, 2011) – The War of 1812 was a monumental war; a “second war of independence” against Britain that evolved into 200 years of peaceful relations between the two nations. Baltimore played a major role in the war, inspiring what would become our nation’s anthem. The British attacked Baltimore by the land and sea a few weeks after they burned Washington. Amazingly they were defeated by the leadership of the “Rock Stars of the War of 1812”.

The Maryland Historical Society (MdHS) has opened With Broad Stripes and Bright Stars, an exhibit focusing on Baltimore’s part in the War of 1812. The original manuscript of the Star-Spangled Banner penned by Francis Scott Key, one of America’s great icons, is on display.

The Battle of Baltimore in 1814 was a turning point in the War of 1812. American forces defended the port city of Baltimore by sea and killed the commander of the invading British army on land, repulsing the British forces. The defense of Baltimore’s Fort McHenry inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner,” our national anthem.

Museum goers will get to see the Baltimore Defenders of 1814, Maryland’s own War of 1812 “Rock Stars.” Rembrandt Peale’s portraits of four of the Baltimore Defenders of 1814 which were commissioned by the city of Baltimore almost immediately after the victory of September 15, 1814 are on display. Viewers will get to see Samuel Smith, George Armistead, John Stricker, and Isaac McKim.

At the outbreak of the War of 1812, Samuel Smith was a veteran of the American Revolution, one of Baltimore’s wealthiest merchants, a member of Congress, and a former Secretary of the Navy under President Jefferson. Thanks to his foresight, Smith and up to 10,000 militia and regulars defended Baltimore on September 12 and 14, 1814, repulsed the British and saved the city.

George Armistead is most often remembered for commissioning Mary Pickersgill to make “a flag so large…the British would have no difficulty seeing from a distance” and flying that 42 foot by 30 foot flag over Fort McHenry during the twenty-five hour bombardment in September 1814. Francis Scott Key immortalized that flag in his verses about the “star-spangled banner.”

General John Stricker was a seasoned veteran of the American Revolution when he became the hero of the Battle of North Point on September 12, 1814. Stricker, with approximately 3,200 men, blocked the enemy’s overland advance from North Point. The British were turned back and never reached Baltimore.

During the War of 1812, Isaac McKim served as an aide-de-camp to General Samuel Smith and helped to finance the defense of Baltimore. A keen businessman, McKim was among the first investors in the Baltimore and Ohio Rail Road, a highly lucrative endeavor.

Visitors also have the privilege of seeing the “Etting Cup,” a blackened tin mug etched with the signatures of the “Rock Stars” of the 1814 Baltimore defense. These brave men who defended North Point and Fort McHenry each scratched their own name into this tankard to commemorate their contribution to their nation’s history.

Other works of Rembrandt Peale are featured, celebrating the Star-Spangled Banner and the Battle for Baltimore in 1814. Visitors will learn about Baltimore’s major pivotal role in the War of 1812. In addition, they will have a special opportunity to see one of America’s greatest treasures, the original manuscript of the Star-Spangled Banner written in Francis Scott Key’s own hand, cross-outs and all. Key penned those remarkable stanzas after the attack on Baltimore’s Fort McHenry in 1814. One of the earliest broadsides of the original anthem, complete with a typo, will be on view as well. This exhibition represents a sneak preview of the extraordinary War of 1812 objects in MdHS’s collection. A larger exhibition will be opened in 2012.

For more information on the exhibits at MdHS, 201 W. Monument St. in Baltimore go to www.mdhs.org or call 410-685-3750. This exhibition is a new element in the museum’s permanent galleries.

The Maryland Historical Society was founded in 1844 and is the world’s largest museum and library dedicated to the history of Maryland. Occupying an entire city block in the Mount Vernon district of Baltimore, the society’s mission is to “collect, preserve, and interpret the objects and materials that reflect Maryland’s diverse cultural heritage.” The Society is home to the original manuscript of the Star-Spangled Banner and publishes a quarterly titled “Maryland Historical Magazine.” More information about the Maryland Historical Society can be found online at http://www.mdhs.org/

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