Francis Scott Key was the author of “ The Star-Spangled Banner.” During the War of 1812, a British fleet was anchored in Chesapeake Bay. Dr. Beans, an old resident of Upper Marlborough, Maryland, had been captured and sent as a prisoner to Admiral Cochrane’s flagship. Francis Scott Key, a young lawyer of Baltimore, was a friend of Dr. Beans, and, hearing of his plight, hastened to the British commander to endeavor to have his friend released. The enemy was about to attack Fort McHenry, so refused to allow Mr. Key and Dr. Beans to return until after the fort was captured.
All through the night of September 13, 1814, the bombardment was kept up, and in the light of “ the rockets’ red glare ” they could see the American flag still waving over the old fort. When the first rays of dawn showed that the flag “ was still there,” Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the lines of the wonderful song, “ The Star-Spangled Banner.”
O say! can you see, by the dawn’s early light, What so proudly we hailed, at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming;
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave ?
After going ashore, Key showed the lines to a relative, who declared that they must be printed. This was done, and an old English air, “ Anacreon in Heaven,” was adapted to them by Ferdinand durang a musician.