Author! Author: Illinois in the War of 1812

July 6th, 2012by Gary JohnsonFiled under: Stories

President’s Commentary, July 2012:

Ferguson, Gillum.  Illinois in the War of 1812. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press (2012). 

A forgotten theater of a forgotten war.  That’s one way of characterizing the events of the War of 1812 that played out over the old Northwest.  Gillum Ferguson’s crisply-written new book sheds light on this neglected topic.  Big-picture insights frame on-the-ground accounts of confusing skirmishes and deadly encounters between Indians and settlers in the lightly-inhabited Ilinois Territory. The title understates the scope of this book; Illinois Territory also included what we now know as Wisconsin plus parts of Minnesota and the upper peninsula of Michigan. In addition, the author brings in the wider context of events in the Great Lakes region, including Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Ontario.

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One Response to “Author! Author: Illinois in the War of 1812”

  1. Ralph Pugh Says:

    The War of 1812 transformed Chicago from a no-man’s land to a genuine American frontier, though another couple decades were required before a true Boom Town emerged. Chicago had several different “beginnings,” as I put it to myself and my students at IIT–and therefore its history is complex. Glad to see that Gary Johnson is promoting Ferguson’s book, with its inclusion of “wider context.” Too much Chicago history is written as if Chicago was not a product of larger forces–as if admitting those forces/contexts would somehow diminish Chicago’s grandeur. I believe that Gary Johnson has it right (I’ve spoken with him on the matter): Chicago is more than a “crossroads” or a mere aggregate of American elements–it is MORE, and UNIQUE. But to neglect Chicago’s American context is also dangerous (and he sees this too). Getting the proper balance is one of the key tasks of Chicago historians/educators.

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