History, The Daily Feed

Smithsonian Snapshot: The Star-Spangled Banner

Photo courtesy of
‘Old Glory’
courtesy of ‘Tyrannous’

In honor of Flag Day, the Smithsonian Snapshot brings you some history of a very famous flag. In the summer of 1813, Mary Pickersgill was contracted to sew a 30 x 42–foot garrison flag for Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland. That flag later became known as the Star-Spangled Banner, the very flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write what later became the national anthem. The flag remained the private property of the commander of Fort McHenry, Lieutenant Colonel Armistead’s widow, Louisa Armistead, his daughter Georgiana Armistead Appleton and his grandson, New York stockbroker Eben Appleton, for 90 years.

In 1912, Appleton donated the flag to the Smithsonian with the intention to “present the flag to an institution where it could conveniently be seen by the public and where it would be well cared for.” Continue reading

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Happy Birthday Star Spangled Banner!

Photo courtesy of
‘The Glory That Is Old’
courtesy of ‘ojbyrne’

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.