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Sailing Into History

Hello again readers, and welcome back to the library’s blog. As I write this post, OpSail 2012 is drawing to a close in Norfolk, Virginia. This past weekend was a celebration of the maritime heritage and culture that is shared by so many nations of the world. The United States had proud representatives in the form of naval vessels like the USCG Eagle, but so too did the United Kingdom, Canada, Indonesia, and many others. Ships like Germany’s FGS Hessen opened their decks to curious guests, while their crews took turns answering questions and exploring the other vessels for themselves.

The USCG Eagle, used for training at the Coast Guard Academy. From The Mariners’ Museum Collection.

And yet, it was not just maritime heritage that we celebrated – it was also a commemoration of the War of 1812, whose bicentennial will soon be upon us. This occasion made OpSail 2012 a patriotic celebration as well as an international one, as military re-enactors and historic wooden ships like the Godspeed – a replica of one of the vessels that carried the Jamestown settlers to Virginia – joined modern military vessels in saluting the War of 1812.

The War of 1812, which grew out of resentment over the impressment of American sailors onto British ships, was a largely maritime affair between the fledgling United States and the British Empire. Many of its signature battles, such as the Battle of Lake Eire, the Battle of New Orleans, and the dozens of ship-to-ship duels between American and British warships, took place on or were adjacent to waterways. If you want to learn more about this important time in our history, consider a visit to The Mariners’ Museum Library – we have a large number of books, photographs, and archival documents concerning the War of 1812.

A model of the Godspeed. From The Mariners’ Museum Collection.
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