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                  Francis Scott Key (1779-1843)


    The annexed song was composed under the following circumstances—
A gentleman had left Baltimore, in a flag of truce for the purpose of get-
ting released from the British fleet, a friend of his who had been captured
at Marlborough.—He went as far as the mouth of the Patuxent, and was
not permitted to return lest the intended attack on Baltimore should be
discolsed. He was therefore brought up the Bay to the mouth of the Pa-
tapsco, where the flag vessel was kept under the guns of a frigate, and
he was compelled to witness the bombardment of Fort McHenry, which
the Admiral had boasted that he would carry in a few hours, and
that the city must fall. He watched the flag at the Fort through the
whole day with an anxiety that can be better felt than described, until
the night prevented him from seeing it. In the night he watched the Bomb
Shells, and at early dawn his eye was again greeted by the proudly waving
flag of his country.

                              Tune — ANACREON IN HEAVEN.

          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 watch'd, 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?

          On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
              Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
          What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
              As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
          Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
          In full glory reflected new shines in the stream,
                    'Tis the star spangled banner, O ! long may it wave
                    O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave

          And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
              That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
          A home and a country, shall leave us no more?
              Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps pollution
          No refuge could save the hireling and slave,
          From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
                  And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
                  O'er the Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave.

          O ! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
              Between their lov'd home, and the war's desolation,
          Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the Heav'n rescued land,
              Praise the Power that hath made and preserv'd us a nation
          Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
          And this be our motto—"In God is our Trust;"
                  And the star-spangled Banner in triumph shall wave,
                  O'er the Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave.


The above is from the earliest broadside edition of what would become The
Star-Spangled Banner
and the national anthem of the United States of
America. The gentleman in the description of the song's composition is
Francis Scott Key, the friend is Dr. William Beanes, and the days in question
are September 13-14, 1814.

The anthem's tune is from the English drinking song Anacreon in Heaven.
The song Adams and Liberty is an earlier American political song written
to the same tune. Key also had a previous song to the same tune. Beginning
"When the warrior returns", it was first published in 1805.

A reproduction of the original 1814 broadside edition can be found in the
auction catalog:

  • Anderson Galleries, Inc. Rare Books, Autographs, Manuscripts, Drawings.
    New York: American Art Association, 1934.