History of the Star-Spangled Banner

Happy Independence Day!

In 1814, Francis Scott Key wrote a poem while watching the British bombard US Fort McHenry and waiting to get back to land. A little over a century later, that poem would become one of the most revered and recognizable songs in the country.

Francis Scott Key was a lawyer in the Maryland/DC area in the 1810s. His friend, Dr. William Beans, was taken prisoner by the British during the War of 1812. Key went to Baltimore and negotiated his friend’s release, but could not leave the British ship until after their Bombardment was over.

While watching the fighting from his window, Key penned the now infamous poem. Originally titled “The Defense of Ft. McHenry”, he was inspired by the sight of a single US flag flying over the Fort at daybreak.

The poem was later set to music, using the popular English drinking song “To Anacreon in Heaven” as inspiration.

In 1916, then-President Woodrow Wilson decreed to have it played at all official events. The Star-Spangled Banner was officially adopted as our National Anthem on March 3rd, 1931.