Birth of Francis Scott Key, Author of National Anthem
Born on August 1, 1779, in western Maryland, Francis Scott Key witnessed the devastating attack of Fort McHenry which inspired him to pen one of our nation’s most patriotic tunes – “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Key initially opposed the War of 1812 due to his religious beliefs. However, feeling a deep love for his country, he briefly served in the Georgetown Light Field Artillery in 1813. But it was a rescue mission the following year that made Key a household name.
In early September 1814, Dr. William Beanes was wrongly captured by the British and taken prisoner. Key boarded a British boat to negotiate the doctor’s release and eventually succeeded. However, Key had heard the British plans to attack Fort McHenry and was ordered to wait until after the battle to return home. He and Beanes were tied up and forced to wait on a British ship in the Chesapeake Bay.
They waited anxiously, watching the battle play out and keeping an eye on the American flag over the fort, until the smoke of cannons and the dark of night obscured it from their view. On the morning of September 14, they looked to the fort and saw the flag waving overhead. Key was so moved by the sight that he began to compose a poem, “Defence of Fort McHenry,” which would later become “The Star-Spangled Banner,” America’s National Anthem.
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