On this day, 196 years ago, young lawyer Francis Scott Key wrote the poem that would eventually become “The Star Spangled Banner.” Mr. Key who has been sent to negotiate the release of Dr. Beanes, an American taken hostage by the British, witnessed the Battle of Fort McHenry from a British sloop anchored behind the British Navy ships.
As night fell and the over 5,100 rockets, bombs, cannon balls, flares, etc. reined down on the fort, the immense American flag disappeared from sight. Come morning, as the lyrics go “our flag was still there” signaling that the British attempt to take Baltimore had failed.
Once off the British sloop, Key rested at the Indian Queen Tavern, where he recorded his famous poem. 5 days later, the poem had been printed and circulated all over the Baltimore area. Unsurprisingly, considering Baltimore’s “colorful” tavern atmosphere, someone eventually figured out that the poem’s lyrics worked smashingly well with the popular English drinking song “To Anacreon in Heaven” and the rest is, well, the history of our National Anthem.