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April 16, 2012
War of 1812 commemorative chart poster of New York harbor.
High resolution (Credit: NOAA)
As the nation kicks off maritime celebrations to commemorate the War of 1812, NOAA is releasing special navigation products that will help recreational boaters enjoy the festivities safely.
Beginning this month, the public will have free online access to special Booklet Charts that include nautical charts, OPSail® tall ship parade routes, and historical background for activities planned in five ports holding official bicentennial events.
NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey is working closely with the U.S. Navy and port officials to make the commemorative events come alive with historical information for War of 1812 activities in New Orleans (April 17-23), New York (May 23-30), Norfolk (June 2-12), Baltimore (June 13-19) and Boston (June 29-July 6).
Coast Survey has also produced commemorative chart posters for the five ports. The PDF posters, available free from the web, depict naval stories from the War of 1812, illustrated with historical charts and artwork.
The commemorative editions of the Booklet Charts and posters can be downloaded from NOAA’s War of 1812 website and are developed from the current experimental Booklet Charts, which can be downloaded and printed at home. As people use the site to help make their plans for War of 1812 activities, they will also find links to timely navigation information, ocean observations, and up-to-date marine weather.
In 1807, it was common to lose ships to accidents in U.S. coastal waters. The nation needed nautical charts, so President Thomas Jefferson signed a law authorizing the Survey of the Coast. The survey would measure water depths, establish a spatial reference system to determine location, and produce the nation’s navigational charts.
As relations among the United States, England, and France grew contentious, Jefferson instituted an economic embargo against both nations. With the U.S. recalling American seamen and effectively terminating the American merchant marine and international trade, the result was a stalled Survey of the Coast for the rest of the Jefferson Administration.
Jefferson's successor, James Madison, reinstituted the survey and during a thaw in relations between the two countries sent Ferdinand Hassler, the first head of the Survey of the Coast, to England in late 1811 to buy survey instruments. President Madison declared war on England eight months after Hassler's arrival in London, and he was unable to return to the U.S. until 1817.
Years of debate and struggles over control of the new agency ensued, however, and the actual Survey of the Coast didn’t begin until 1832. When U.S. Coast Survey Superintendent Alexander Bache took over in 1843, the U.S. Coast Survey picked up steam and, by 1860, had deployed survey teams to all parts of the growing nation’s coastline.
Today, America’s coastal waters remain as central to the nation’s prosperity as they were 200 years ago. Mariners and others still rely on NOAA’s Coast Survey charts, constantly updated with the accuracy and precision needed to protect life and property.
NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebook, Twitter and our other social media channels.