The War of 1812 in Song
Many Americans may have forgotten the War of 1812, but its lasting legacy is arguably “The Star-Spangled Banner.” A lawyer in Baltimore, Francis Scott Key was also a gifted poet who penned “The Defense of Fort McHenry” after he witnessed the fort’s 24-hour bombardment from aboard a British troopship. He based the melody on “To Anacreon in Heaven,” a popular English tune…and the rest is history.
However, the war inspired countless books, songs, icons, images, plays, and poems that were an important component of an emerging sense of American identity in the early nineteenth century. Here is a selection of historical American and Canadian folk songs, as well as contemporary versions; you can listen also to the full playlist on Spotify.
“Jefferson and Liberty (The Gobby O)”
“Come All You Bold Canadians”
“The Star-Spangled Banner”
“Battle of New Orleans” by Jimmy Driftwood
“Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier” by James Taylor