A most famous American song

One of America’s most famous songs was written 199 years ago. On September  14, 1814, a young Washington lawyer was held captive aboard a British warship that was bombarding Fort McHenry, an outpost that was protecting the city of Baltimore. The battle, with its rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air, inspired the attorney, Frances Scott Key, to write a poem called “Defense of Fort McHenry.”

Through the perilous fight, four Americans were killed and 24 were wounded. By dawn’s early light, Key rejoiced to see the 15 broad stripes and 15 bright stars of the 30 x 42-foot flag so gallantly streaming over the fort. His poem was set to the popular English melody “Anacreon in Heaven,” written by John Stafford Smith.

The United States had no national anthem at the time, but “The  Star-Spangled Banner” soon took its place as a popular American patriotic song,  alongside “Hail, Columbia” and “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.” It was not until 1931 that President Herbert Hoover signed a bill making “The Star-Spangled Banner” the national anthem of the United States of America.

Comments are closed.