Skip to comments.March 3,1931,"The Star-Spangled Banner" became the national anthem of the United States.
Posted on 03/02/2005 7:51:04 PM PST by mdittmar
On Sept. 14, 1814, Francis Scott Key peered through clearing smoke to see an enormous flag flying proudly after a 25-hour British bombardment of Baltimore's Fort McHenry. Key was inspired to write a poem, which was later set to music. Even before "The Star-Spangled Banner" became our national anthem, it helped transform the garrison flag with the same name into a major national symbol of patriotism and identity. The flag has had a colorful history, from its origins in a government contract through its sojourn with several generations of a Baltimore family to its eventual donation to the Smithsonian Institution.
Francis Scott Key first published his impressions of the Fort McHenry victory as a broadside poem, with a note that it should be sung to the popular British melody "To Anacreon in Heaven." Soon after, Thomas Carr's Baltimore music store published the words and music together under the title "The Star-Spangled Banner." The song gained steadily in popularity in the years before the Civil War. By 1861 it shared with "Yankee Doodle" and "Hail Columbia" the distinction of being played on most patriotic occasions. Nonetheless Congress did not make the song the national anthem until 1931.
Keys song The Star-Spangled Banner did more than give the American flag a name; it changed the way Americans looked at their flag. In the early 1800s, Americans, like people in other countries, considered a national flag simply a military or naval emblem. Like the bald eagle or Lady Liberty, it was one of many symbols used to represent the new nation. But as the nation matured, Americans used the flag more and more to express their understanding of what the United States stood for. For many people today, the flag embodies the nations founding ideals liberty, democracy, and equality. Although there are other patriotic symbols, the flag stands above them all.
Made in Baltimore, Maryland, in July-August 1813 by flagmaker Mary Pickersgill
Commissioned by Major George Armistead, commander of Fort McHenry
Original size: 30 feet by 42 feet
Current size: 30 feet by 34 feet
Fifteen stars and fifteen stripes (one star has been cut out)
Raised over Fort McHenry on the morning of September 14, 1814, to signal American victory over the British in the Battle of Baltimore; the sight inspired Francis Scott Key to write The Star-Spangled Banner
Preserved by the Armistead family as a memento of the battle
First loaned to the Smithsonian Institution in 1907; converted to permanent gift in 1912
On exhibit at the National Museum of American History since 1964
Major, multi-year conservation effort launched in 1998 Plans for new permanent exhibition gallery now underway
It is a good song but I'd rather have "America the Beautiful" !
I like 'America the Beautiful'. But the 'Star Spangled Banner' expreses best the founding of the U.S. . If a country has a National anthem, it should express the reasons for why the country was founded.
We used to sing that, and others, at the start of each school day.
Yes, especially when you sing all four verses... I like how at the end of the first verse, Key is asking if the flag is still flying and by the fourth verse he's saying "Yes! It is!"
Always my favorite verse, bears repeating:
O thus be it ever
when free-men shall stand
Between their lov'd home
and the war's desolation;
Blest with vict'ry and peace,
may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made
and preserv'd us a nation!
Then conquer we must,
when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto:
"In God is our trust!"
And the star-spangled banner
in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free
and the home of the brave!
Anacreon in Heaven
Anacreon - A Society and a Song
The Anacreontic Society was a popular gentlemen's club in London, named in honor of Anacreon, a lyric poet of Greece who lived and wrote in the fifth century B.C.. The society's patron saint was Anacreon, the "convivial bard of Greece." The society's membership, one observer noted, was dedicated to "wit, harmony, and the god of wine." The lyrics of the Anacreontic Song, the first four words of which are "To Anacreon in Heaven ...." were written by Mr. Ralph Tomlinson, who had been president of the society.
There does not seem to be a single composer of this tune, rather it was a collective effort by the members of the Anacreontic Society. The new society song, "To Anacreon in Heaven" required a new tune and thus all got together and worked on this project. John Stafford Smith (1750-1836), a court musician and member of the society, was probably the guiding force behind this endeavor and most likely is the person responsible for the tune as we know it today. As early as 1798 the tune of The Anacreontic Song appeared in American papers with various lyrics, among these was Robert Treat Paine's (1731-1814) popular "Adams and Liberty," perhaps the most prominent American song prior to "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Key and the Tune
As early as 1806 Francis Scott Key adapted the tune to an earlier poem he wrote entitled "When the Warrior Returns" in honor of an American naval victory over the Barbary pirates. Hence, there is no doubt that Key was well acquainted with the tune, when in, September 1814, he saw the flag over Fort McHenry "by the dawn's early light." Soon after the battle, the poem and tune were published, a reminder of the American victory.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.