Sep 13, 1814 CE: Star-Spangled Banner Yet Waves

Sep 13, 1814 CE: Star-Spangled Banner Yet Waves

On September 13, 1814, Francis Scott Key witnessed the British defeat at the Battle of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. The poem he wrote about the event eventually became the national anthem of the United States, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”


9 - 12


Social Studies, U.S. History

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On September 13, 1814, Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the poemDefense of Fort M’Henry.” During the War of 1812, British troops attacked Fort McHenry, an island in Baltimore Harbor, Maryland. Francis was on a boat, and saw the nighttime attack. British gunfire and rockets lit up the sky, and Francis did not know if the British or the Americans had won the battle. The next morning, Francis knew the Americans had won. The soldiers at Fort McHenry had unfurled a huge flag—9 meters (30 feet) tall and 13 meters (42 feet) wide. The fort’s commanding officer wanted “to have a flag so large that the British will have no difficulty in seeing it from a distance.” Today, the poem that Francis wrote about the battle—and the flag—is the national anthem of the United States! It was set to music and re-named “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

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National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
Last Updated

October 19, 2023

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