PLATTSBURGH — When Vincent Puliafico first volunteered for the Battle of Plattsburgh Association a decade ago, he never imagined his personal appearance would play a major role with the museum.
Puliafico, who has since become an expert on the Treaty of Ghent — which effectively ended the War of 1812 — bears a striking resemblance to John Quincy Adams, a major player in the treaty signed on Dec. 24, 1814.
In fact, a lot of his friends and acquaintances call the resemblance to the former president of the United States “uncanny.”
“I was a docent at the BOPA Interpretive Center, where we had pictures on the walls describing the Treaty of Ghent,” Puliafico said of his first contact with the image of Quincy Adams.
“Someone noticed it and said, ‘Hey, you look a little bit like that guy.’”
Puliafico decided to put the resemblance to use and went to a seamstress in town, who created an outfit representing the time period so he could play the role of Quincy Adams for special occasions with the War of 1812 museum.
The seamstress worked from a blown-up image of Quincy Adams that portrayed the historical figure during the peace treaty.
“She called the likeliness ‘scary,’” said Puliafico, who happens to be an inch shorter than Quincy Adams but shares a fairly high-pitched voice with the son of America’s second president, John Adams.
He took the similarity in appearance one step further and began to research Quincy Adams’s life and his relationship to the Battle of Plattsburgh and the Treaty of Ghent.
Quincy Adams, who was president of the United States from 1824 to 1828, was the foreign minister to Russia from 1809 to 1814 and actually had very little to do with the War of 1812.
But when officials began treaty discussions with England in Ghent, which is modern-day Belgium, Quincy Adams was chosen as the only active foreign minister at that time.
“His role was head of the commission to establish the treaty for peace with Great Britain,” said Puliafico, who spent time studying the diaries of Quincy Adams and visited the Massachusetts Historical Society, where representatives of the Quincy Adams collection were also impressed with the resemblance.
CHANGE IN DIRECTION
Puliafico recently published a pamphlet describing Quincy Adams’s role in the Treaty of Ghent, which began in August 1814 when the British were enjoying a string of victories and establishing strong criteria for getting what they wanted from the war.
News of the American victory during the Battle of Plattsburgh reached Ghent in late October, and Quincy Adams immediately advised his staff to end their negotiations and to pen a treaty that clearly described what the United States wanted from the agreement.
“There were a few exchanges (of draft treaties), but that essentially marked the end of the War of 1812,” Puliafico said.
The official end of the War of 1812 was celebrated on Feb. 18, 1815.
The War of 1812 Museum will hold its annual Treaty of Ghent party at the Plattsburgh Elks Lodge on Cumberland Ave. from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday.
Proceeds will help support the War of 1812 Museum.
The celebration will feature hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar, door prizes, a silent auction and live entertainment from Thomas Ventiquattro II. Period dress is encouraged but not required.
Puliafico will also be on hand in period dress and will be signing copies of his publication on Quincy Adams and the Treaty of Ghent.
Email Jeff Meyers:
firstname.lastname@example.orgATTEND THE PARTY The War of 1812 Museum's annual Treaty of Ghent party will be held at the Plattsburgh Elks Lodge on Cumberland Ave. from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $12 and are available at the museum, 31 Washington Road; at Dames Discount Wine and Liquor, 457 Route in Plattsburgh; and at Liquor and Wine Warehouse, 25 Smithfield Boulevard. Event tickets do not include dinner, but the Plattsburgh Elks Lodge invites guests to dine during or after the event by calling 563-2100 for reservations. For more information, call the museum at 566-1814 or email email@example.com.