U.S. Capitol Visitor Center

Welcome to the U.S. Capitol

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.

1 Image Broadside, “The Star Spangled Banner,” Andrew's Printer, New... View All Images
1 Image Sheet music, “The Star Spangled Banner National Song,” ca. 1861 View All Images
1 Image “Star Spangled Banner,” Port Royal band book, 1864 View All Images
1 Image Port Royal Band, 1862 View All Images