History museum to host War of 1812 program
Chambers will present “American Antiquities are so Rare: Commemorating 1812 on the Niagara Frontier.”
Perhaps no other part of the United States saw more battles during the War of 1812 than the Niagara River borderland in Western New York. In later years its decaying fortifications and overgrown battlefields provided reminders of the struggle’s bloodshed and indecisive conclusion. Tourists traveling to Niagara Falls visited nearby Fort Niagara, Queenston Heights or Lundy’s Lane, constructing the war’s memory in the process.
As one visitor wrote during an 1821 trip to Niagara, “This beautiful country stimulates my patriotism.” Battlefields and monuments on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border became sites where Americans, and especially New Yorkers, came to understand why the War of 1812 mattered, and how they could remember its fallen heroes. Their emotional responses to place and history at Niagara’s battlefields both honored veterans and neglected the war’s causes. Memories of 1812 envisioned a peaceful border between two nations that had once shed each other’s blood.
Chambers is Associate Professor of History and Department Chair at Niagara University and Department at Niagara University. He took his Ph.D. and M.A. at the College of William and Mary, and earned his B.A. at Middlebury College. He currently serves as Chairman of the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area Commission, and has been active in the 1812 Legacy Council. His book on battlefield commemoration is forthcoming from Cornell University Press.
This program is funded by the New York Council for the Humanities, Speakers in the Humanities Program.