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Fun Facts about Francis Scott Key for Kids


Francis Scott Key was an American lawyer, author, and amateur poet, from Georgetown, who wrote the lyrics to the United States’ national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner”. Francis Scott Key was born to Ann Phoebe Penn Dagworthy and Captain John Ross Key at the family plantation Terra Rubra in what was Frederick County, Maryland.  He studied law at St. John’s College, Annapolis, Maryland and also learned under his uncle Philip Barton Key.

  • During the War of 1812, Key, accompanied by the American Prisoner Exchange Agent Colonel John Stuart Skinner, dined aboard the British ship HMS Tonnant, as the guests of three British officers: Vice Admiral Alexander Cochrane, Rear Admiral Sir George Cockburn, and Major General Robert Ross.
  • Skinner and Key were there to negotiate the release of prisoners, one of whom was Dr. William Beanes, a resident of Upper Marlboro, Maryland who had been arrested after putting rowdy stragglers under citizen’s arrest.
  • Skinner, Key, and Beanes were not allowed to return to their own sloop: they had become familiar with the strength and position of the British units and with the British intent to attack Baltimore.
  • As a result of this, Key was unable to do anything but watch the bombarding of the American forces at Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore on the night of September 13–14, 1814.
  • On the way back to Baltimore, he was inspired to write a poem describing his experience, “Defense of Fort McHenry”, which he published in the Patriot on September 20, 1814.
  • Under this name, the song was adopted as the American national anthem, first by an Executive Order from President Woodrow Wilsonin 1916 and then by a Congressional resolution in 1931, signed by President Herbert Hoover.
  • The United States legally adopted the motto “In God We Trust” in 1956.
  • In 1866, his body was moved to his family plot in Frederick at Mount Olivet Cemetery.
  • The Key Monument Association erected a memorial in 1898 and the remains of both Francis Scott Key and his wife were placed in a crypt in the base of the monument.
  • Despite several efforts to preserve it, the Francis Scott Key residence was ultimately dismantled in 1947.
  • The residence had been located at 3516–18 M Street in Georgetown.
  • The first is the Francis Scott Key Bridge between the Rosslyn section of Arlington County, Virginia, and Georgetown in Washington D.C..
  • Scott’s Georgetown home, which was dismantled in 1947, was located on M Street NW, in the area between the Key Bridge and the intersection of M Street and Whitehurst Freeway.
  • St. John’s College, Annapolis, which Key graduated from in 1796, has an auditorium named in his honor.
  • His family plot is next to Thomas Johnson, the first governor of Maryland, and friend Barbara Fritchie, who allegedly waved the American flag out of her home in defiance of Stonewall Jackson’s march through the city during the Civil War.