SEP 17, 2012

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The War of 1812 and Mortgages

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This was a new one. I’ve been to hundreds of mortgage meetings, and never once has the topic of the War of 1812 been raised. Until now.

It was at my own SourceMedia Mortgage Regulatory Forum held in Arlington, Va., on Sept. 13-14 that the War of 1812 came up.

Now when you think about it, this would be a good year for reflections on this particular war since 2012 is the 200th anniversary of the start of that puzzling conflict. I’ve read that it started as an intended land grab by the United States, with designs on lands owned by the then-British colony of Canada. The reason this isn’t general knowledge is that we managed to seize not an inch of Canada.

The British did manage to sack our capital and set fire to the White House, and then attack Baltimore, prompting Francis Scott Key’s famous poem and national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” But our side came back with a tremendous victory at New Orleans. However, that battle came several weeks after a peace treaty to end the war was signed in Europe so it needs a big asterisk in front of it. In fact the whole war needs an asterisk in front of it.

What’s any of this have to do with mortgages? Not much. I guess you could say our failed land grab from Canada qualifies as a real estate story, but it’s a stretch.

Actually, the War of 1812 came up at the conference as a mnemonic device. One of the speakers was talking about the timetable on a particular regulation and the two time periods in question were 18 months and then 12 months. So, to remember that, you can think of the War of 1812. Makes sense!

As long as we’ve wandered off the theme of mortgages I’ll share my favorite bit of War of 1812 trivia: The novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald was a great-nephew of Francis Scott Key. His full moniker was Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald. He was a better writer, too.

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