September 17

Today is a big day in American history.

226 years ago, the US Constitution was signed. Its brilliance has yet to be matched by any other political document. While it certainly wasn’t perfect, it has the ability to be made better as time goes on.

151 years ago, the bloodiest single day in American history – the Battle of Antietam – took place. Despite their overwhelming numerical advantage, the Union Army of the Potomac under Maj. Gen. George McClellan fought the Confederates under Gen. Robert E. Lee to a stalemate, claiming around 24,000 casualties in the process. While it was a Union victory strategically (as it ended Lee’s invasion of the north), it didn’t make anyone feel good.

Sadly though, today isn’t marked on many people’s calendars. For whatever reason, these two events don’t reach even the level of Flag Day in the American schedule. I’m not calling for a national holiday or anything – I mean, do we really need another Congressionally-mandated 3-day weekend that everyone uses to go to the beach?

So take a few minutes today and learn about these events. If you’re inclined, plan a trip to Antietam. Read the Constitution (or better yet, the Federalist). Let’s bring some meaning to this day.

The Battle of North Point

Just about now, 199 years ago, a land-based British invasion force was met by Maryland militia a few miles east of Baltimore in what would become the Battle of North Point.

As part of their plan to take Baltimore, several thousand (different sources say anywhere from 4,000-7,000) British troops landed at North Point and began a march toward the city. They were met by militia under the command of Major General Samuel Smith and held for a few hours. Eventually, the Americans were forced to fall back into the defenses of the city, but not before mortally wounding the British commander, Maj. Gen. Robert Ross.

The momentum was beginning to leave the combined British invasion force. The actions to come at Fort McHenry would prove to be the deciding factor.

The Battle of Lake Erie

Today is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Lake Erie.

The Americans under Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry defeated the British squadron on Lake Erie, opening the way for a land invasion of Canada. It was the first time in history that an entire British Naval squadron surrendered.

The battle is famous for the flag that Perry flew aboard his flagships, the USS Lawrence (and later the USS Niagara) – a blue banner with the motto of his friend Capt. Lawrence who had been killed earlier – “DONT GIVE UP THE SHIP“.