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Wed, 09.14.1814

The Star-Spangled Banner is Written

*On this date in 1814, "The Star-Spangled Banner" was composed.  This is the national anthem of the United States.  

Originally a poem, it was written by a 35-year-old white-American slave owner and lawyer Francis Scott Key.  He wrote it after witnessing the defense of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812.  This occured against British ships of the Royal Navy in Baltimore Harbor during the Battle of Baltimore. Key was inspired by the large U.S. flag, with 15 stars and 15 stripes, known as the Star-Spangled Banner, flying triumphantly above the fort during the U.S. victory. 

The poem was set to the tune of a popular British song written by John Stafford Smith for the Anacreontic Society, a men's social club in London. "To Anacreon in Heaven" (or "The Anacreontic Song"), with various lyrics, was already popular in the United States. This setting, renamed "The Star-Spangled Banner," became a well-known U.S. patriotic song. With a range of 19 semitones, it is known for being very difficult to sing. Although the poem has four stanzas, only the first is commonly sung today, and the third stanza is rarely used publicly.  

Following the War of 1812 and subsequent U.S. wars, other songs served as the hymns of U.S. bureaucracy. "My Country, 'Tis of Thee," and "America the Beautiful" served as a de facto national anthem.  "The Star-Spangled Banner" was recognized for official use by the United States Navy in 1889, and by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in 1916; and was made the national anthem by a congressional resolution on March 3, 1931, which President Herbert Hoover signed.  Here are (and all four stanzas) of the Star-Spangled Banner.

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