Legislature Approves Bill to Promote Commemoration of The War of 1812 200th Anniversary

June 17, 2011

Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell (D-Theresa) announced that the Assembly and Senate have passed legislation she sponsored that would establish a War of 1812 commemorative commission (A.3722-A) to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the war fought between the United States and the British Empire, what is present-day Canada. Commemoration activities are expected to draw thousands of tourists from the US and Canada to historical sites across Northern New York.

The North Country played a key role in the War of 1812. Sackets Harbor was the site of two decisive battles during the war and the center of American naval and military operations for the upper St. Lawrence Valley and Lake Ontario. By 1813, Sackets Harbor had become the US Naval Headquarters for the Great Lakes region and was home to thousands of troops.

“The commemoration of the War of 1812 has great historical and economic significance for the North Country,” Assemblywoman Russell said. “Not only are we celebrating 200 years of peace with our neighbors to the north, Canada, but as the anniversary approaches we have a great economic opportunity to draw thousands of interested tourists to our region.”

Assemblywoman Russell has been working with several local and statewide groups, including the Seaway Trail, Inc., Fort La Presentation and the Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site, to work toward the establishment of the commission. Russell said that when tourists visit the North Country’s historical sites, they will spend money locally and help boost the region’s economy.

“While tourists are here, they will dine in our restaurants, stay in our hotels and motels, shop at our stores and discover everything the North Country has to offer,” Russell said. “Many Canadian provinces and other states have already created official commissions to commemorate the war. With this legislation, New York will be able to catch up and ensure that we will host commemorative events and benefit from the economic activity here in the North Country.”

Constance B. Barone, Site Manager, Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site said, “With the Governor’s pending approval of this legislation, the War of 1812 Bicentennial may soon have a solid foundation upon which to implement the numerous observance plans we have developed over the past few years in anticipation of marking the 200th anniversary of this seminal event that engaged both the north country and our neighbors in Canada."

Barbara O'Keefe, Director, The Fort La Presentation Project said, “I am very pleased that this legislation has now passed both houses and look forward to its enactment with the Governor's signature. This will mean that we can confidently carry out the significant events that commemorate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812."

The legislation, which passed the Assembly on May 23rd and the Senate on June 16th, now heads to Governor Cuomo’s desk for his signature.