In my column last week I mentioned some of the books I have in my collection that I particularly favor. The most interesting book I have is titled The Life of George Washington. Published in 1811, it is the oldest book I have in my collection. While thinking about the books age I started wondering what were some of the most outstanding events that occurred in that year. I then began to try and find what was happening in 1811 and some of the important people of that time.
It had been only 35 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence. James Madison was U. S. President in 1811. He was the fourth president, serving two terms (1809 until 1817). He was a leading figure in the War of 1812 when congress declared war on Great Britain. He is known as the Father of the Constitution due to his work on that very important document.
Tennessee became a state (1796) only 20 years after the Declaration of Independence. The governor of Tennessee in 1811 was Willie (pronounced Wylie) Blount who served three successive terms from September 20, 1809 until September 27, 1815. In his first election, he defeated William Cocke by approximately 3,000 votes.
We consider the first mass produced car to have been a long time ago, and it was (1909). The Model T (also known as the Tin Lizzy) was the first auto to be produced that was affordable for the average American. With production and sales of the Model T, Americans took to the road (bad as they were) with a freedom never felt before. But, 1811 was 98 years before that great achievement.
Of course there were many more historic events that occurred in 1811, but I consider the powerful earthquakes that began with tremors December 16th of 1811 and lasting through March of 1812 as one of the most significant. Reportedly no other earthquakes have lasted so long. The earthquakes were centered near the Missouri town of New Madrid. The quakes were felt as far away as New York City, Boston, Montreal, and Washington D. C. The tremors were felt in the White House that was occupied by President James Madison and his wife Dollie. One of the most interesting things about the quakes was that they were said to have caused the Mississippi River to flow backward to form what is now Reelfoot Lake in Northwest Tennessee. The lake measures 20 miles long and seven miles wide.
Those were some of the facts and events that occurred in the year 1811, the same year my book on the life of President George Washington was published. It is interesting to look back and see some of the occurrences of long ago. It was a much different world then.