Bombardment of Fort McHenry, oil on canvas by Alfred Jacob Miller, ca. 1828-1830
After witnessing the British bombard Fort McHenry, Baltimore, through the night of September 13, 1814, Francis Scott Key wrote lyrics expressing his joy that the American flag was still flying at dawn. Set to a well-known melody, Key’s words became the popular patriotic song, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Courtesy of the Maryland Historical Society, 1901.2.3
The National Anthem
“The Star-Spangled Banner,” a song based on a poem by Francis Scott Key, was inspired by the American flag during the War of 1812. It became the United States’ national anthem through the efforts of Representative John Linthicum of Maryland. Linthicum introduced his bill in the House of Representatives in 1929. Bolstered by petitions, letters, and telegrams from around the country, he pressed for its passage, saying that an anthem would be an expression of patriotism. In 1931 Congress officially designated the song as the national anthem.
O say does that star spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
“Star-Spangled Banner,” National Anthem of the United States