As Americans pause today to mark the terrible events of 2001, it would be fitting to also mark a bicentennial of which few Americans are aware, but of which the North Country should be justly proud: the 1814 Battle of Plattsburgh.
These two momentous days, from across a span of nearly two centuries, share an importance that will forever be marked by historians.
Both are absolutely critical to the shape of the America we live in today. Both are fulcra, balancing a more innocent and vulnerable America of the past with a changed nation that confronted a vastly different future world.
On 9/11/2001 we had the worst attack on American soil in history, a heinous crime that radically altered our understanding of and response to terrorism and plunged us into two wars that asked for the sacrifice of thousands of Americans. It changed, probably forever, the balance between privacy and security, throwing a new light on our American freedoms and their cost. But it also showed our unity and demonstrated once again that a free people are indomitable.
On 9/11/1814 we faced the largest invasion on American soil in history, a land and sea assault by the army that had defeated Napoleon, more than ten-thousand strong, which could have ended our great experiment in democracy had it succeeded. American ingenuity and smarts, combined with courage beyond measure, saved the Republic.
The Battle of Plattsburgh may not be well known to most Americans, but it is one of the most important American military victories in history.
If you want to learn more about the Battle of Plattsburgh, the Almanack has you covered.
Earlier this week Lawrence Gooley had this piece placing the battle in historical context and highlighting its relevance to the city of Plattsburgh and New York State history.
Over at The New York History Blog, Matthew Boire has a written a six-part series of short posts entitled “Battle of Plattsburgh: Countdown to Invasion“.