“In an attempt to take Baltimore, the British attacked Fort McHenry, which protected the harbor. Bombs were soon bursting in air, rockets were glaring, and all in all it was a moment of great historical interest. During the bombardment, a young lawyer named Francis Scott Key wrote The Star-Spangled Banner, and when, by the dawn’s early light, the British heard it sung, they fled in terror!” —Humorist Richard Armour
The National Anthem was originally written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key after he witnessed the 25 hour bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British. But he set the lyrics to the melody of a popular tune at the time: “Anacreon in Heaven“, also known as the Anacreontic Song. When it was published, the public soon began singing the song, first known as “The Defence of Ft. McHenry.” In the 19th century, it was one of America’s most beloved patriotic songs. But it didn’t become the National Anthem until 1931. —AmericanHistory.si.edu
What’s your favorite version of the Star Spangled Banner?