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Harnessing HarmonyMusic, Power, and Politics in the United States, 1788-1865$
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Billy Coleman

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781469658872

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469658872.001.0001

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“The Star-Spangled Banner” and the Development of a Federalist Musical Tradition

“The Star-Spangled Banner” and the Development of a Federalist Musical Tradition

(p.21) Chapter One “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the Development of a Federalist Musical Tradition
Harnessing Harmony

Billy Coleman

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter provides a new account of the political lineage of “The Star-Spangled Banner” that ties its composition to the identification of a distinctively Federalist conception of music in early national American politics. By connecting Francis Scott Key and “The Star-Spangled Banner” to an older Federalist conception of music in politics–populated by the likes of George Washington, Francis Hopkinson, John Adams, Joseph Hopkinson and others–the chapter argues that Federalism may bear more responsibility for the rise of popular American political culture than commonly thought. Influenced by contemporaneous English debates, Federalists justified their top-down approach to popular patriotic music by appealing to music’s capacity to moderate the temperament, to instill support in the nation’s leaders, and to soothe rather than inflame factional differences. Meaning that the composition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” in effect, represented a culmination of Federalist efforts to use music as part of a political strategy to ensure their elite values were reflected in national culture. The chapter also differentiates Federalist from Republican party understandings of musical power and examines contemporary debate over the partisan purposes of “Hail Columbia.”

Keywords:   The Star-Spangled Banner, Francis Scott Key, George Washington, John Adams, Hail Columbia, Federalists, Republicans, Partisanship, Music, Political culture

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