Key, Francis Scott

Key, Francis Scott

biographical name

(born Aug. 1, 1779, Frederick county, Md., U.S.—died Jan. 11, 1843, Baltimore, Md.) U.S. lawyer, author of “The Star Spangled Banner.” After the burning of Washington, D.C., in the War of 1812 he was sent to secure the release of a friend from a British ship in Chesapeake Bay. He watched the British shelling of Fort McHenry during the night of Sept. 13–14, 1814; when he saw the U.S. flag still flying the next morning, he wrote the poem “Defense of Fort M'Henry.” Published in the Baltimore Patriot, it was later set to the tune of an English drinking song, “To Anacreon in Heaven.” The song was adopted as the U.S. national anthem in 1931.

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