1814 Francis Scott Key writes a poem that is eventually put to music and becomes America's national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner," on September 14, 1814. The poem, originally titled "The Defense of Fort M'Henry," was written after Key watched the British bombardment of the Maryland fort during the War of 1812.
How did Key come up with the melody? He may have taken it from an English song called "To Anacreon in Heaven." There are also hints that it may be based on a French air. Either way, it's been said that it sounds like two birds singing back and forth.
What makes the Star-Spangled Banner so popular today? Many people think it's because there are many memorable lines in the poem ("O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave"), but actually it's more than that. The poem itself is very patriotic and includes words like "glory" and "liberty." It also has a nice soft tune you can't help but want to sing along with. All in all, it's a great piece of music and poetry that truly expresses our love for our country.
Francis Scott Key wrote the words to "The Star-Spangled Banner" on September 14, 1814, after watching the enormous nighttime British bombardment of Fort McHenry in Maryland during the War of 1812. The song was first sung at a public ceremony held at that fort two days later.
Key's poem was adopted by Congress on March 3, 1815. It was not then considered to be our national anthem; it was merely recommended for use "as an official song." Our current national anthem, "God Save the United States and Canada," was officially declared by Congress on June 14, 1798. Before then, there were many other songs used as anthems by various groups or individuals.
The original manuscript of "The Star-Spangled Banner" is owned by the National Museum of American History. A copy of the poem, with changes made by Key to reflect the tune of a popular British military song of the time called "To Anacreon in Heaven," can be found printed in several early editions of Francis Scott Key's poems.
Our national anthem was not immediately accepted by everyone. Some people objected to its length (four stanzas) or thought it should include more verses about our country. Others disliked its patriotic tone or believed it was too expensive to buy music for every government employee who went into battle.
Based on its use before sporting events, an old joke goes that the second stanza of the "Star Spangled Banner" is the chief umpire's call: "Play Ball!" The real flag in the poem has survived, and it is rather huge even now.
On this day in 1814, Francis Scott Key writes a poem that is subsequently adapted to music and becomes "The Star-Spangled Banner" in 1931. The poem, originally titled "The Defence of Fort McHenry," was written after Key watched the British bombardment of the Maryland fort during the War of 1812.
After being delighted that the United States had escaped British assault, Francis Scott Key penned the "Star-Spangled Banner" as a joyful poem. Since then, it has grown into the United States' national anthem, and it is played at official occasions, schools, and athletic events. The song is based on a British drinking song called "To Anacreon in Heaven," and its lyrics were set to the music of a popular Baltimore folk song called "Mary's Boy."
Key was a wealthy Marylander who traveled to Washington, D.C., after the war ended to witness the hanging of several British prisoners of war. He wrote about his experience in a local newspaper. His article attracted the attention of President James Madison, who invited him to the White House where they discussed ways to encourage more singing by American soldiers stationed abroad.
In 1814, after the war had ended, Key submitted his poem to a magazine for publication. It was accepted and became a nationwide success. The flag that Key saw in Washington during this meeting with President Madison had 13 red and white stripes and a blue field with a star-spangled banner in the center. This inspired him to write about what he experienced that day, including the fact that it was on this very flag that he heard the song that would one day become the national anthem.
The poem was adopted as the national anthem in 1931 when an act of Congress required it be chosen.
On September 14, 1814, American soldiers at Fort McHenry in Baltimore hoisted a massive American flag to commemorate a major victory against British forces during the War of 1812. The sight of the "wide stripes and dazzling stars" inspired Francis Scott Key to create a song that became the national anthem of the United States.
The first four stanzas of his poem were set to music beginning in 1815 by John Stafford Smith. The tune is still used today for various ceremonies at federal government agencies, military posts, and schools across the country.
The original text of the Star-Spangled Banner reads as follows:
To The Heavens And Back Again - Set to an Old English Folk Song
My Country 'Tis Of Thee - Largo - Begins With A Distant View Of Washington D.C.
I Love My Country - Allegretto - Shows Support For The Military
And There O'er The Sea - Adagio - Praises Our National Anthem
Key had no idea that his poem would become the national anthem. He died in 1843 without seeing it done. But his son arranged for the song to be sung at a celebration commemorating the 20th anniversary of Fort McHenry, and this may have started the tradition of performing the piece after significant events such as victories or defeats in war.