The Other Independence Day

Did you know that in the 19th century, Americans celebrated January 8 as a national holiday? Neither did we. Here’s the story:

Way back in January of 1815, the United States and Great Britain were waging the War of 1812, even though a treaty had been signed the day before Christmas that was supposed to end hostilities. The only problem: The negotiations were going on in Belgium, and the good news, of course, had to make its way back to the States by ship. (Also, Congress still had to ratify the treaty.)

So the fighting continued, and on January 8, General Andrew Jackson’s troops defeated the British decisively in what would become known as the Battle of New Orleans. It took place about five miles downriver from the French Quarter, in St. Bernard Parish. There, throughout the anniversary weekend, you can watch re-enactors fire muskets and load cannons at Chalmette Battlefield, now a part of the Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve—always worth a visit, but this weekend even more so. Happy Eighth of January!

battle of new orleans national history

battle of new orleans national history

 

Featured photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and Molly Sweeney – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0. Other images: public domain. 

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