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Broadside, “The Star Spangled Banner,” Andrew's Printer, New York, c. 1861-65

“The Star Spangled Banner” steadily gained favor as a patriotic song. It was one of the most popular Union songs of the Civil War, and in the 1890s the U.S. Navy and Army adopted it for flag ceremonies. Representative J. Charles Linthicum of Baltimore, Maryland, proposed the bill passed by Congress in 1931 making it the national anthem.

Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress

Broadside, “The Star Spangled Banner,” Andrew's Printer, New York, c. 1861-65

The National Anthem

During the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key wrote a poem, "The Defense of Fort McHenry," to express his relief and joy at seeing the American flag still flying over the Baltimore fort after a night of bombardment by the British. He published his poem as a broadside, suggesting that it be sung to a popular British melody. Renamed "The Star Spangled Banner," it became a patriotic song of the Union during the Civil War, and in 1931 Congress recognized it as the national anthem.