Library News

War of 1812 Exhibit now on Display at the Paul Meek Library




MARTIN, Tenn. — The War of 1812 was a defining moment in Tennessee’s history, thrusting the state into the spotlight of American political and military history. Many Tennesseans emerged as important American figures, including Andrew Jackson, David Crockett, Sam Houston, Edmund Gaines (Act of Congress Medal winner) and Sequoyah.

To explore this long overlooked war, the University of Tennessee at Martin’s J. Houston Gordon Museum presents the Tennessee State Museum’s traveling exhibition “Becoming the Volunteer State: Tennessee in the War of 1812.” The museum is located in the Paul Meek Library, and the exhibit is on view through Oct. 31.

The Tennessee State Museum collaborated with the Tennessee War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission on organizing the exhibition. The traveling exhibit is funded in part by a grant from Humanities Tennessee, an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The War of 1812, fought against Great Britain, culminated in the Battle of New Orleans in January 1815. The American public often overlooks this conflict, but it was incredibly important in establishing the American national identity. Some noted historians believe that it was the “second American Revolution,” which marked the United States true independence from Britain.

The war in the south was particularly a Tennessee war, waged predominately by Tennessee militia, volunteers, or regular army units raised in the state. When the British threatened the Gulf Coast, Tennesseans contributed to the defeat of the Red Sticks at Horseshoe Bend and the British at New Orleans. Andrew Jackson’s victory at the Battle of New Orleans propelled him to the White House and established Tennessee at the forefront of American politics. So many Tennesseans volunteered for service that the state soon began to be known by its now-famous nickname, the “Volunteer State.”

On display are period artifacts from the era, such as a 7th US infantry soldier’s uniform and a book that was on the USS Constitution, swords, muskets, and other weapons owned by those who fought in the war, as well as a broad variety of documentary art, maps and illustrations that have been selected to recreate a flavor of the times.

In conjunction with the exhibit, the Gordon Museum will present a talk by Dr. David Coffey at 3 p.m. on September 18. Coffey is a professor and chair of the UT Martin Department of History and Philosophy.

For more information on museum hours, directions and parking locations, visit the library’s website at or call Samuel Richardson or Karen Elmore at 731-881-7094.

PHOTO CAPTION – The Tennessee State Museum’s traveling exhibition, “Becoming the Volunteer State: Tennessee in the War of 1812,” includes several artifacts from this important time in the state’s history. In the display case are a flintlock pistol belonging to Samuel G. Smith, the Congressional Medal of Gen. Edmund Gaines, a piece of Fort Barrancas, a book from the USS Constitution and other items. The exhibit is on view through Oct. 31 in UT Martin’s J. Houston Gordon Museum, located in the Paul Meek Library.