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.

October's Archived Features:

Tuesday October 1, 2019
Wednesday October 2, 2019
Thursday October 3, 2019
Friday October 4, 2019
Saturday October 5, 2019
Sunday October 6, 2019
Monday October 7, 2019
Tuesday October 8, 2019
Wednesday October 9, 2019
Thursday October 10, 2019
Friday October 11, 2019
Saturday October 12, 2019
Sunday October 13, 2019
Monday October 14, 2019
Tuesday October 15, 2019



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.