The national anthem of America is called The Star-Spangled Banner. The song’s last words are, “And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air.”
It was composed by Francis Scott Key on September 14th, 1863, and became official as a United States National Anthem in 1931. The song came just before victory at the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812 and set out his vision for what kind of nation should be established after the victory: a nation that would never surrender its freedom to tyranny.
- The lyrics come from “Defense of Fort McHenry,” a poem written in 1814 by the 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet, Francis Scott Key, after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy ships in the Chesapeake Bay during the Battle of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812.
- The poem was set to the tune of a popular British song written by John Stafford Smith for the Anacreontic Society, a London men’s social club.
- “The Anacreontic Song,” with various lyrics, was already popular in the United States.
- Set to Key’s poem and renamed “The Star-Spangled Banner,” it would soon become a well-known American patriotic song.
- “The Star-Spangled Banner” was recognized for official use by the Navy in 1889 and President Woodrow Wilson in 1916 and was made the national anthem by a congressional resolution on March 3, 1931.
- On September 3, 1814, following the Burning of Washington and the Raid on Alexandria, Francis Scott Key and John Stuart Skinner set sail from Baltimore aboard the ship HMS Minden, flying a flag of truce on a mission approved by President James Madison.
- Their objective was to secure the exchange of prisoners, one of whom was Dr.
- William Beanes, the elderly and popular town physician of Upper Marlboro and a friend of Key’s captured in his home.
- With fifteen stars and fifteen stripes, this flag came to be known as the Star-Spangled Banner Flag and is today on display in the National Museum of American History, a treasure of the Smithsonian Institution.
- On September 20, both the Baltimore Patriot and The American printed the song with “Tune: Anacreon in Heaven.”
- The playing of the song two years later during the seventh-inning stretch of the 1918 World Series and thereafter during each game of the series is often noted as the first instance that the anthem was played at a baseball game. However, evidence shows that the “Star-Spangled Banner” was performed as early as 1897 at opening day ceremonies in Philadelphia and then more regularly at the Polo Grounds in New York City beginning in 1898.
- The pre-recording of the anthem has become standard practice at some ballparks, such as Boston’s Fenway Park, according to the SABR publication The Fenway Project.
- He shocked some people at Tiger Stadium in Detroit and some Americans when he strummed a slow, bluesy rendition of the national anthem before game five of the 1968 World Series between Detroit and St. Louis.