Francis Scott Key composes the “Star-Spangled Banner”
While detained on a British war harbored outside Baltimore during the War of 1812, American lawyer Francis Scott Key witnessed a massive assault on the US Fort McHenry. After the two-day, 1,800-bomb siege, Key was awestruck and moved to see the American flag flying over the settling smoke and dust of Ft. McHenry. He penned a poem called “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Officially, Key dubbed it “The Defence of Fort McHenry.” After Key’s release, his poem began being disseminated in small leaflets, and on September 20th, it was published in a Baltimore newspaper. Sailors and soldiers began singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” to the tune of “To Anacreon in Heaven,” a popular drinking song. Throughout the next century, the song was widely considered the national anthem, but it actually wasn’t made official until President Woodrow Wilson made an executive order in 1916 to make it so. *President Herbert Hoover* signed his order into law in 1931.
What do you think of the tune and lyrics of “The Star-Spangled Banner?” Try composing your own national anthem!