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June marks the 200th anniversary of the start of the War of 1812. A special state commission in Virginia has been set up to help explore what some have called "the forgotten war."
As it did in the American Revolution, Virginia had a leading role in the War of 1812. James Monroe was the Secretary of War, while James Madison was President.
War of 1812 Commission Chair, Delegate Chris Peace, said the conflict resulted in the rise of diplomacy and homeland security and settled the issue of American sovereignty. "It's the second war of independence, and it was the first opportunity to stand up to the test," he said. "And, ironically, it was the same opponent as we had just fought in the American Revolution."
It also transformed America's military. Virginia sustained more damage than most other states, and the British remained in Virginia's waters and land more than any other.
Historian Stuart Butler said Virginia's Federalists and Democratic-Republicans did not initially agree on declaring war. "Some of the congressmen spoke very eloquently against the War. Some of the congressmen were actually militia generals in the War," said Butler. "Once the war was declared, they put aside those feelings and went very patriotically into the war."
For more information, visit the War of 1812 commission website, which has a timeline and many other features for history buffs.