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Pulitzer-winning historian explores War of 1812 in forum at NU

by jmaloni
Thu, Jun 7th 2012 09:10 am
Alan Taylor, Ph.D.
Alan Taylor, Ph.D.

Pulitzer Prize winning historian Alan Taylor, Ph.D., will deliver a keynote address on the War of 1812 and fighting on the Niagara Frontier, Thursday, June 14, at 8 p.m. in the Castellani Art Museum on the campus of Niagara University. The event is free and open to the public.

Taylor is a 1977 graduate of Colby College in Waterville, Maine, and earned his Ph.D. from Brandeis University. He is currently a history professor at the University of California, Davis.

Taylor earned his Pulitzer Prize in 1996 for "Mr. Cooper's Town: Power, Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early American Republic" (Alfred A. Knopf, 1995). Other works by the acclaimed historian include "Liberty Men and Great Proprietors: the Revolutionary Settlement on the Maine Frontier 1760-1820" (University of North Carolina Press, 1990); "America Colonies" (Viking/Penguin, 2001); "Writing Early American History" (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005); and "The Divided Ground: Indians, Settlers, and the Northern Borderland of the American Revolution" (Alfred A. Knopf, 2006).

In Taylor's most recent work, "The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, and Indian Allies" (Alfred A. Knopf, 2010), Taylor tells of the struggles by similar but disparate peoples that would define national identities.

In an interview released by Knopf Doubleday, Taylor comments on why the War of 1812 is frequently overlooked in the American consciousness.

"The War of 1812 looms small in American memory, forgotten as insignificant, because it apparently ended as a draw that changed no boundary and no policy," he says. "At best, Americans barely recall the war as a handful of patriotic symbols: for inspiring the national anthem, for the victories of a warship dubbed 'Old Ironsides,' for the British perfidy in burning the White House and the Capitol, and for the payback taken by Andrew Jackson's Tennessee riflemen at the Battle of New Orleans. This highly selective memory recasts the war as a defense of the United States against British attacks, and screens out the many defeats suffered by American invaders in Canada."

For Niagara University, host of the lecture, this is a unique opportunity for American and Canadian residents of the Niagara Frontier to challenge conventional beliefs on a war that helped define the character of the place they call home.

"We are very pleased to host this conference, which will lend academic insight to one of the most unique and impactful periods in our region's history," comments Dr. Bonnie Rose, Niagara University's executive vice president. "I would like to express the university's gratitude to Professor Taylor for sharing his expertise with us and also thank our partners for making this opportunity possible."

The lecture by Taylor is a principal part of the June 14-16 conference on New York state history, sponsored by the New York State Historical Association in collaboration with the New York State Archives Partnership Trust. The conference is additionally co-sponsored by the New York Council for the Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Niagara University.

For more information, visitwww.nysha.org, call 888-547-1450, ext. 453, or email [email protected].

For comments on Taylor's lecture, contact Dr. Thomas A. Chambers, associate professor of history at Niagara University, at 716-286-8091 or [email protected].

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