Vice president for television production to speak about making War of 1812 documentary Nov. 9 in Potsdam

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

POTSDAM — David Rotterman, vice president for television production at WNED TV, Buffalo/Toronto, will speak about the making of the PBS documentary The War of 1812 on Friday, Nov. 9 at 4 p.m. at Clarkson University in Bertrand H. Snell Hall Room 213. Rotterman will discuss how such a small but complex war gets translated into a feature-length documentary. The event is free and open to the public.

In this bicentennial year of the war, Americans who view the PBS documentary ( will be reminded of a war that they have largely forgotten. However, Canadians and native peoples on both sides of the border will have occasion to re-remember one that they have never entirely forgotten.

Even at the time, the War of 1812 was a small war — the North American annex to the larger global struggle between England and Napoleon’s France. But it was a war with consequences — one fought over and around the periphery of the eastern half of the North American continent.

It was a war fought on land and water by a surprisingly complex mosaic of peoples — French and English-speaking Canadians, native peoples of many tribes, enslaved blacks and Americans from the central and western states. It was also a war fought in a wide variety of styles by professional armies and navies, novice fleets and militias and by native forces.

The outcome of the War of 1812 was disproportionate to its size and the bland terms of the peace treaty that concluded it. At its end, English pretensions in North America were over. The British and French settlers of Canada had acquired the seeds of a new “national” identity. Native peoples in and around the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River basin found themselves dispossessed and at the mercy of the expansionary impulses of a newly energized generation of Americans.

Since joining WNED in 2000, David Rotterman was executive producer of Elbert Hubbard: An American Original; Fort Niagara: Struggle for a Continent; and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Buffalo — all broadcast nationwide on PBS.

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