Oops, missed a day. Things happen! Especially during summer. Enjoy.
Jeopardy! category: HISTORIC OBJECTS (10-7-2015)
$800 clue: The ceremonial mace kept in the House of Reps. is a copy of the one destroyed when the Brits invaded D.C. in this year
The gist: Wars usually take a couple years, right?
In August of 1814, the war that would later become known as the War of 1812, fought between the young United States of America and the British Empire to its north, was a little over a year old. After Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo and his exile to Elba, the British were able to redeploy the significant resources that had been fighting the French Emperor in Europe to the war with their former Colonies in the New World. Ships were dispatched to the Caribbean in order to draw American attention away from Upper and Lower Canada. Meanwhile, British and American ships were battling off the Eastern Seaboard, and on land, British troops were advancing southwards via Bladensburg, Maryland. It was there that American troops under William H. Winder and British troops under Robert Ross met and engaged. The Americans, attempting to stop the British southward march, were entrenched and ready to repel the attackers. However, British artillery superiority, and their impressive Congreve rockets, left the American defenders confused and disorganized. Retreat orders failed to reach their intended targets, and no definite retreat plan had been issued before the battle started, and the wild, haphazard rush from the battlefield became known, embarrassingly, as the “Bladensburg Races.” President Madison and many other top officials had been observing the battle, and were forced to abandon nearby Washington along with their troops. That night, the British entered the American capital and undertook the destruction that would become known as the “Burning of Washington.” Many public buildings were burnt, including both the presidential mansion (which would be replaced by the White House) and the Capitol building.
The clue: You better know your War of 1812 chronology lest you fall into the same trap as contestant Rob and guess the much more obvious but entirely less correct year of 1812. There are really no other hints in this clue – it’s just a reminder to learn you American history.
In Jeopardy!: A lot of stuff happened in 1814, a vintage represented by over a hundred clues in the J!Archive. We’re not going to go through all of them, but just seven of them are about Washington. Other events include the Battle of Baltimore, a month or so later than Bladensburg, where the “bombs bursting in air” immortalized in the Star-Spangled Banner by F. Scott Key put on quite an impressive show – that battle gets around 15 clues involving the year. Napoleon, who had quite an eventful year then, gets 14 clues. There’s also lots of other things, but I can’t go into them all here: take a look.