This Day in History
The Star Spangled Banner, 1814

The Star Spangled Banner is Written
September 14, 1814

In the War of 1812, military rockets were used against American forces. An unusual weapon, they had helped to rout the untrained militia at Bladensburg and opened an undefended route to the Capital at Washington. The British burned the White House and other government buildings there and, after rejoining their ships, set out to capture Ft. McHenry in Baltimore harbor and to seize three warships under construction there. On September 13, 1814, the British launched the attack with a bombardment by rockets, which carried 32 pound bursting shells, and by artillery shells, then called “bombs,” of nearly 200 pounds. Francis Scott Key had been arranging for the release of a British prisoner-of-war and saw the preparations for this attack. Held by the British in protective custody throughout the bombardment, he watched the battle from his small schooner, anchored amidst the British ships. His own words best describe what he saw and felt. “I saw the flag of my country waving over a city. I witnessed the preparation for its assaults, and I heard the sound of the battle, which told me that ‘the brave and the free’ had met the invaders.” At twilight’s first gleaming, September 14, 1814, Key saw through the clouds of the war that the stars and stripes still waved above the ramparts. At that moment came an inspiration he could not resist, and the song was written. Published as The Defence of Fort McHenry, its title was soon changed to The Star Spangled Banner, and sung to an ancient tune To Anacreon in Heaven. During succeeding years, many attempts were made to make it our National Anthem and finally, in 1931, with war clouds again looming on the distant horizon, Congress acted and The Star Spangled Banner was at last adopted as our National Anthem.

September's Archived Features:

Friday September 1, 2023
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Wednesday September 13, 2023
Thursday September 14, 2023
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Wednesday September 20, 2023
Thursday September 21, 2023
Friday September 22, 2023
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Monday September 25, 2023
Tuesday September 26, 2023
Wednesday September 27, 2023
Thursday September 28, 2023



All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.