(Yeah, I'm still kinda sick. Not really wanting to eat and my abdomen still hurts. I was hoping to be over this by today but oh well).
The other night - maybe it was even Sunday night? - the local PBS channel showed one of their historical documentaries on the War of 1812. It was pretty interesting, and I was gratified to see how much I remembered from my grade-school and high-school American history:
"We have met the enemy and he is ours"
Commadore Perry (Well I should know that; having grown up in Northeastern Ohio: he was still known as "The Hero of Lake Erie")
Francis Scott Key
The writing of The Star-Spangled Banner. (And I think it's interesting how a British drinking song was repurposed for the tune: So Americans have been "upcycling" since nearly the beginning?)
The burning of Washington and how Dolley Madison saved some of the important things from the White House (esp. a portrait of Washington). Dolley Madison seems like she was a pretty cool person: for all her social-butterfly ways, she seems to have had quite a tough core.
The idea that impressment of American sailors could have been one of the contributing factors.
The fall of Fort Detroit
There were some things I didn't know or was never taught: in school, they never really made the connection with the Napoleonic wars, and that one of the causes of 1812 could have been trade disputes, in that the US wanted to trade more or less freely and Britain wanted any ship trading with France to stop off and pay a tariff with them or be considered "hostile."
And I don't think we learned as much about the privateers...who were basically pirates with a governmental okay. (They may have been a bit less brutal in their methods than true pirates)
Also, we never learned the Canadian perspective (that this war was essentially a war for their way of life, just as much as the American side was fighting for its way of life, but that Canada's and the US's perspective was different on what the "right way of life" in terms of relations with Britain was).
They also touched somewhat on the way Native villages - and to some extend, on how some of the outpost Euro villages - were horribly sacked, apparently some of the things done (like burning houses) really violated a code that many of the military people held....but they did it anyway.
One interesting thing had to do with Tecumseh. He was apparently interested in starting up some kind of "United Indian States" to the west (this would have been like present-day Wisconsin, Illinois, and south...) of the current states....with the idea that the Indian nations would unite and band together and in some way be a mirror of the existing United States. Of course that didn't happen. (And the Native people got a really raw deal - to understate it - in the whole expansion of the US and of European Americans). It would be interesting though if Tecumseh had lived, had managed to consolidate enough power, and to actually help establish that country. (Of course I would not be living where I am now; for that matter, there probably would not have been an Ohio for me to grow up in). It's just an interesting thing to speculate on: how would the world be different? Would the two nations be mirrors of one another, or would they be very different?
I enjoy stuff like that but any more, it seems like it's only PBS where you find it. What used to be "The Learning Channel" is now devoted to psychic mediums and toddlers in beauty pageants, "The History Channel" seems to now be "All 'Ancient Aliens,' all the time" and it also seems that a lot of stations are swapping the same programs between them. (While I, at times, enjoy stuff like "American Pickers," do we really need fourteen different shows devoted to some aspect of people finding abandoned stuff and hoping to sell it for a lot of money? Or at least, could we have those shows not broadcast at the same time as each other so people who'd rather watch something else can find it?)
Maybe it's just the time I'm free to watch television, but it does seem like there's been a big creep of "reality programming" into channels that used to show more-educational stuff. And I admit it; I'm a bit of a snob: I dislike most reality shows.