American Association for State and Local History 2015 "Award of Merit"
TENNESSEE WAR OF 1812 BICENTENNIAL COMMISSION
While the War of 1812 has national significance, the event was exceptionally important to Tennessee. The conflict made Andrew Jackson a household name, gave rise to the state’s moniker “The Volunteer State” and saw other Tennesseans like Sam Houston, David Crockett, Sequoyah, and Edmund Gaines become national leaders.
In 2010, the State Historian called a meeting of organizations connected to the War of 1812. Nearly thirty organizations attended and the meeting resulted in several outcomes and goals.
All agreed that it was important to commemorate Tennessee’s role in the War of 1812, and the committee agreed to create projects that would serve a wide audience including genealogical groups, teachers, school children, and academics. The committee also moved to encourage the creation of exhibits, publications, living history programs, teacher workshops, memorial services, and symposiums.
The committee identified the preservation of Camp Blount as a priority. Camp Blount was the largest mustering ground for Tennessee troops and much of the site was already lost to development. Saving what remained was of utmost importance to the legacy of Tennessee’s role in the War of 1812.
In 2012, the General Assembly officially created the Tennessee War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission. Despite a lack of dedicated funding, the Commission achieved the goals outlined by the 2010 committee and then some. The State Museum opened an award-winning temporary exhibit which was converted into a traveling exhibit, reaching nearly fifty thousand people. The Center for Historic Preservation, working with local partners, sponsored symposia in Nashville, Knoxville, and Fayetteville which were well attended. The Center also published a driving-tour linking thirty-five sites across the state. The Tennessee Historical Society dedicated two volumes of the Tennessee Historical Quarterly to new scholarship on the war. Five workshops provided opportunities for teacher education. The Commission also conducted memorial services to honor the white, black, and Cherokee Tennesseans who fought at Horseshoe Bend and Chalmette National Military Parks.
The greatest achievement of the Bicentennial Commission was the preservation of Camp Blount. The State of Tennessee agreed to purchase the forty acres and will retain ownership, but local partners will turn the property into an interpretive area. While other states have created commissions to commemorate the War of 1812, Tennessee remains the only state to have preserved historically significant ground during the bicentennial.
Every year, the Leadership in History Awards publicly recognize superior and innovative achievements in the collection, preservation, and interpretation of state and local history.