On June 18, 1812, the United States Congress voted to declare war on Great Britain. Although America had won its independence from their rule less than 30 years earlier, this time, the cause was to stand up for our fledgling nation’s rights on the high seas. It was an audacious challenge, considering that Great Britain was arguably the greatest naval power in the world. Yet, a year and a half later, the war was over, and the Treaty of Ghent was signed in Belgium on December 24, 1814. As a matter of pride, many in the U.S. began referring to the conflict as “the second war of independence.”
For more information, The Grateful American Book Prize recommends What Caused the War of 1812? by Sally Senzell Isaacs.
The 1960s was a decade of great change in the U.S. It was the end of the beginning of the struggle for equal rights — for all. Volunteers from across America got involved in the crusade for civil rights. Some died for the cause, including three young activists, Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner; they disappeared in Neshoba County, Mississippi. on June 21, 1964, but their bodies were not discovered until August 4th. Mississippi was then a heavily segregated state. The U.S Justice Department indicted 19 men on December 4th for violating the civil rights of Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney.
For more information, read The Freedom Summer Murders by Don Mitchell.
When General George Armstrong Custer led 250 cavalrymen against a Sioux Indian force of approximately two to four thousand encamped near the Little Bighorn River in Montana on June 25, 1876, it became an event that has been retold through the generations. Custer and almost all of his troops were massacred; only one scout survived. But, it was the Indians who lost the most. The outrage over the humiliating defeat ramped up the government’s rage to drive the Native Americans off of their lands.
Custer’s famous–or infamous–defeat at Little Bighorn is a true story about America’s westward expansion. Young learners will benefit from a better understanding of this important event by reading Custer’s Last Stand by Quentin Reynolds.
America’s electorate got younger on June 30, 1971. The ratification of the 26th Amendment to the Constitution lowered the voting age in all elections from 21 to 18, and 11 million people were added to the eligible constituency.
Knowing the power of the ballot box teaches kids to become responsible, civically minded adults. The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Amendment XXVI: Lowering the Voting Age by Sylvia Engdahl.
June 18 to June 30, 2019 — History Matters is a biweekly feature courtesy of The Grateful American Book Prize.