Monday, October 26, 2009

....If the Creeks Don't Rise

There are so many interesting points to bring up when discussing the War of 1812 – the writing of the Star Spangled Banner, the tornado that actually killed more British during the Washington D.C. invasion than bullets, General Andrew Jackson’s successful attempt to unite the people of New Orleans for its defense, Dolly Madison’s quick action to save the Gilbert Stuart painting of President George Washington – and the list goes on.

It’s sad really that so few Americans know about this time in American history, but I believe our first performance on the world stage defending American shores is worthy of our scrutiny, and teaches valuable lessons for all of us.

Coming home from our annual “It’s Fall, Ya’ll!” trip to Perdido Key on Alabama’s Gulfcoast I noticed an exit sign along the expressway. It read “Fort Deposit”.

“Fort Deposit,” I thought, “ Hmmmm….there has to be a story behind a place with a name like that.”

My research tells me that the town of Fort Deposit, Alabama dates back to 1813 and began as Fort Deposite or Fort of Deposit set up by General Ferdinand Claiborne under orders from General Andrew Jackson to set up a location for ammunitions supply. The location of the fort was important. The bluff it sits on the highest point between Montgomery and New Orleans. It was also located along the Jackson Military Road which linked other military camps in the area.
So……what ‘s the big deal? During the War of 1812 Jackson needed an ammunitions supply depot, and Claiborne set it up.

It’s just another little factoid in the war with the British, right?

Oh, c’mon… know there’s more to the story.

In 1813, Alabama was not yet a state and was considered to be part of the Mississippi Territory. While there were white settlers living in the area there were members of the Creek Indian Nation living there as well and in greater numbers.

The Creek War which arose out of a civil war within the Creek Nation is considered to be part of the War of 1812 by many historians (myself included) because the British supported the Red Sticks….the faction of Creeks who wanted their nation to return to traditional ways. The United States on the other hand supported the Creek National Council which supported trade and cooperation with the United States.

The clash within the Creek Nation began soon after the New Madrid Earthquake in 1811. Many of the Creeks who supported the Red Sticks interpreted the Earth’s movements as a sign….a sign that the Creek Nation should return to traditional ways and leave white culture alone.

By 1813, interference from the Spanish and the English pushed the Americans into the Civil War. White settlers in the immediate area were not threatened until a group of whites attacked a Red Stick supply train close to Burnt Corn Creek in July, 1813.

In retaliation the Creeks marched on Fort Mims in August, 1813 where they massacred men, women, and children. Depending on the source used anywhere from 250-550 settlers were murdered. The folks at the Fort Mim’s site explain that the saying, “the good Lord willing, and the Creeks don’t rise” came about following the massacre…..and you thought that saying had something to with water and flooding, didn’t you?

Militias in Georgia, Tennessee, and the Mississippi Territory formed ranks and marched to the Fort Deposit area.

Fort Deposit served as a base of operations for Claiborne and his men during the Battle of Holy Ground in December, 1813. Holy Ground was the settlement founded by Josiah Francis, a Creek prophet and one of the leaders of the Red Sticks. Holy Ground was located along the banks of the Alabama River. Ceremonies had been performed at Holy Ground to establish a barrier the Creeks believed would destroy any white men who invaded the settlement. One of the most exciting moments of the battle occurred when William Weatherford, a Red Stick warrior and leader (also the son of a white man and a Creek woman), attempted to find a place along the high river bank to escape from the advancing Americans. The story goes Weatherford spurred his horse forward and leaped to the river below.

You can find out more about Fort Deposit here and learn about some fossil remains here.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Staking My Claim...Again

Some things just bear repeating.

I’ve been at the beach…again…for the last couple of days, so it’s more than appropriate to share a repeat of an earlier post written on this very same beach three years ago this month…..

Mr. EHT and I were up and out very early this morning enjoying yet another sunrise on MY beach.

It is not lost on me how things change….and how they remain the same.

Enjoy my post I Conquer This Beach in the Name of ElementaryHistoryTeacher!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Lovely Latin

Somehow or another I tend to trip down the path of Latin around the time of year students examine Ancient Indians . Since so many of our references to time refer to B.C. I launch into a discussion regarding our system of time reference.

B.C. and A.D.

We learn about the Julian and Gregorian calendars and discuss the entire Before Christ (B.C.) or Before the Common Era (B.C.E.) thing.

We learn that the Anno Domini dating system came to be mainly to figure out the dates for the Christian Eastern observance by a monk fondly remembered as Dennis the Little or Dennis the Short. The name was devised not because he was short in stature but because he was of the most humble sort. Until he devised the Anno Domini system the consular dating system relating to the various Consuls of Rome had been used. Our friend Dennis didn’t like the fact that folks were having to use the name of a particular nasty emperor (Diocletian) to refer to certain years.

I also share a list of interesting Latin phrases with students. Some actually become part of our classroom vernacular over the remainder of the year, and I have given extra credit to students who have discovered more phrases on their own or who memorize some of the longer phrases.

Here is a list of 13 Latin phrases I keep in my bag of tricks:

1. a mari usque ad mare – from sea to sea…. ask students why Canada would have this as their national motto

2. ab imo pectore – from the bottom of my heart

3. acta non verba – actions not words…..this one comes in handy as we work on building our character

4. ad valorem – by the value

5. ad sum – here! present!.....I think you can understand how this phrase becomes part of our classroom lexicon

6. casus belli – event of war….the incident that is used as the cause of war. I refer back to this one often as the year progresses.

7. corruptissima re publica plurimae leges - When the republic is at its most corrupt the laws are most numerous

8. e pluribus unum – from many comes one…..this one is referred to more than once in my classroom since it is found on the Great Seal of the United States

9. legem terrae – the law of the land

10. Libertas Justitia Veritas – liberty, justice, truth

11. manus manum lavat – one hand washes the other

12. pater patriae – father of the nation

13. per curiam – ‘through the senate” legal term meaning by the court

I used number 7 as my Facebook status this week and it prompted a friend to share with me the phrase “Pro Aris Et Focis”. Scott advised it translates to “For our alters and our hearths”. You may recognize it as “For God and country….”

Today is Thursday and even though the main Thursday 13 site is no more (for now) a few folks still carry on. You can find other 13 lists by clicking here.