A Road Scholar Program by Lee Murdock
In the summer of 1812, President James Madison declared war against Great Britain. Why? The British navy had been seizing or impressing cargo and crews of the American merchant fleet on the high seas. British agents had been encouraging Native Americans to rise up in rebellion against white American settlers. American interests coveted the vast expanse of the Canadian frontier, which remained in Britain’s possession. The War of 1812 contributed significantly toward defining the identities of the United States and Canada. The many songs composed during the war and its aftermath — including our own national anthem — express a broad range of Native American, white American, British, and Canadian perspectives. They demonstrate that perceptions of war and its repercussions can vary widely, depending on one’s experiences of them. Skilled guitarist and singer Lee Murdock performs several of these songs and provides commentary about them based on his extensive research.