Saturday, December 7, 2013

Becoming the Volunteer State exhibition opens at Delta Heritage Center December 19

The West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center, Brownsville, will host the Tennessee State Museum traveling exhibition "Becoming the Volunteer State: Tennessee in the War of 1812" Dec. 19 - Feb. 3, 2014. The exhibit commemorates the war's 200th anniversary and features artifacts, maps and an indepth exploration of the significant role of Tennessee and its people in this important chapter in history.  

Curator Myers Brown will lead a tour of the exhibition and answer questions at an opening reception Thursday, Dec. 19, beginning at 6 p.m. Brown is an Archivist with the Tennessee State Library and Chair of the Tennessee War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission.

After years of escalating tensions, the United States declared war on Great Britain on June 18, 1812, the war culminated with the Battle of New Orleans in January 1815. By the time the war was over several Tennesseans were beginning to emerge as important American figures, including Andrew Jackson, David Crockett, Sam Houston, Edmund Gaines (Act of Congress Medal winner), and Sequoyah.

Portrait of Andrew Jackson
by Ralph E. W. Earl, ca. 1837
The war in the south was waged predominately by Tennessee militia, volunteers, or regular army units raised in the state. So many Tennesseans volunteered for service that the state was soon known by the 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.

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.

The Tennessee State Museum collaborated with other organizations to develop and produce the exhibition, including The Hermitage: Home of President Andrew Jackson, the State Library & Archives, 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.

“Becoming the Volunteer State: Tennessee in the War of 1812” is an exhibition of the Tennessee State Museum in collaboration with the American Association of State and Local History. The exhibit’s statewide tour is supported in part by a grant from Humanities Tennessee, an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.