In honor of President’s Day and the upcoming exhibit on the War of 1812 at the Museum of East Tennessee History, the East Tennessee Historical Society and the Friends of the Knox County Public Library will present “A Presidential Conversation” with author Jon Meacham on Feb. 18 at the Bijou Theatre in Knoxville.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, a history buff in his own right, will deliver the evening’s introduction beginning at 7:30 p.m.
A native son of Tennessee, Meacham is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author of four books and many essays. He is a former co-anchor of the public-affairs broadcast “Need to Know” on PBS and former editor of Newsweek.
Meacham’s latest book, “Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power,” is topping The New York Times’ bestseller’s list. His book, “American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House,” debuted at No. 2 on The New York Times’ bestseller list. On April 20, 2009, “American Lion” was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.
Meacham is also the author of two other New York Times bestsellers — “American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation” and “Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship,” about the wartime relationship between Roosevelt and Churchill. Named a book of the year by The Los Angeles Times, it won The Churchill Centre’s 2005 Emery Reves Award for the best book of the year on Winston Churchill and the William H. Colby Military Writers’ Symposium’s Book of the Year Award.
In 2009, Meacham was elected to the Society of American Historians. He serves on the Board of Trustees of The Churchill Centre, the National Advisory Council of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion & Politics at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., and on the Advisory Committee of the Center for the Constitution at James Madison’s Montpelier.
Meacham has written for The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, Washington Post, Slate and Los Angeles Times Book Review. In 2001, he edited “Voices in Our Blood: America’s Best on the Civil Rights Movement” (Random House), a collection of distinguished nonfiction about the mid-century struggle against Jim Crow.
He has served as a judge for the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award and was awarded the Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Medal by the Anti-Defamation League.
Born in Chattanooga in 1969, Meacham was educated at St. Nicholas School, The McCallie School and The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., where he graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English literature; he was salutatorian and elected to Phi Beta Kappa.
He currently resides in Nashville.
Tickets to Meacham’s lecture at the Bijou are $30 and $20, and may be purchased through www.knoxvilletickets.com or www.knoxbijou.com, or by calling (865) 684-1200.
“A Presidential Conversation” is sponsored by WUOT 91.9FM, the Knoxville News Sentinel, WBIR, Comcast and the Knox County Public Library.
For more information, visit www.eastTNhistory.org, www.knoxfriends.org or www.knoxlib.org.
Becoming a Volunteer State: Tennessee in the War of 1812,” a traveling exhibition from the Tennessee State Museum, will remain on display at the Museum of East Tennessee History in Knoxville through May 19.
The exhibition commemorates the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 and the important role Tennessee played in the war.
The War of 1812, fought against Great Britain, culminated in the Battle of New Orleans in January 1815. While this conflict is often overlooked by the American public, it was incredibly important in establishing the American national identity. Some noted historians refer to it as the “second American Revolution,” which marked the United States true independence from Britain.
At its conclusion, the war made western lands accessible for settlement, secured the American frontier from Native American uprisings and protected the Mississippi as an avenue for trade and prosperity. The war also gave America one of its most important heroic figures, Andrew Jackson of Tennessee. Jackson eventually rode his success as a military commander all the way to the White House, where the strong presidency he created became a model for American democracy.
“Like Andrew Jackson, other Tennesseans also played an important role in the War of 1812,” said the exhibit’s curator, Myers E. Brown II. “They were keenly aware of the danger that Britain posed to America’s western security. Tennesseans were among the most ardent ‘War Hawks,’ clamoring for armed conflict to settle the continuing challenge by Great Britain once and for all.”
On June 18, 1812, after years of escalating tensions between the two countries, the United States declared war on Great Britain.
Two notable events from the War of 1812 are forever etched in the collective consciousness of America’s heritage: the British burning of Washington, D.C., when First Lady Dolly Madison saved the portrait of George Washington before she fled the capital, and the writing of the “Star Spangled Banner” by attorney Francis Scott Key during the British attack of Ft. McHenry at Baltimore.
Tennesseans participated in the war against the British and their Indian allies in the Great Lakes area. Then, when the British threatened the Gulf Coast, helped defeat the British at New Orleans. By the time the war was over, several Tennesseans were beginning to emerge as important American figures, including Jackson, David Crockett, Sam Houston, Edmund Gaines (Act of Congress Medal winner) and Sequoyah.
The war in the south was particularly a Tennessee war, waged predominately by Tennessee militia, volunteers or regular army units raised in the state. So many Tennesseans volunteered for service that the state soon began to be known by its now-famous nickname, the “Volunteer State.”
The victory at the Battle of New Orleans propelled Andrew Jackson to the White House and established Tennessee at the forefront of American politics.
The State Museum collaborated with five other organizations to develop and produce the exhibition, including The Hermitage: Home of President Andrew Jackson, the Tennessee Historical Society, the State Library & Archives, the East Tennessee Historical Society and the Tennessee War of 1812 Bicentennial Committee. Important art, portraits, uniforms, weapons and period artifacts from the era, as well as a broad variety of documentary art, maps and illustrations, have been selected to recreate a flavor of the times.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the museum will take part in several events scheduled in commemoration of the War of 1812, including the Jon Meacham lecture on Feb. 18.
For a complete list of related events, visit www.easttnhistory.org or email eths@eastTNhistory.org.