The Star-Spangled Banner : All you need to know !

The Star-Spangled Banner is the national anthem of the United States. Its lyrics are taken from the “Defense of Fort M’Henry,” a poem written on September 14, 1814 by 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet Francis Scott Key after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships of the Royal Navy in Baltimore Harbor during the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812.

Key was inspired by the large United States flag, with 15 stars and 15 stripes, known as the Star-Spangled Banner, flying triumphantly over the fort during the American victory.

The poem was set to the tune of a popular British song written by John Stafford Smith for the Anacreontic Society, a social club for men in London. “To Anacreon in Heaven” (or “The Anacreontic Song”), combined with various lyrics, it was already popular in the United States.

This setting, nicknamed “The Star-Spangled Banner,” quickly became a famous American patriotic song. With a range of 19 semitones, it is known to be very difficult to sing. Although the poem is composed of four stanzas, only the first one is commonly sung today.

“The Star-Spangled Banner” was played for official use by the U.S. Navy in 1889 and by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in 1916, and became the national anthem by a Congressional resolution on March 3, 1931 (46 Stat . 1508 , codified at 36 U.S.C. § 301 ), signed by President Herbert Hoover .

Prior to 1931, other songs served as anthems of the American bureaucracy.
“Hail, Columbia” served this purpose during official functions for most of the 19th century.

“My Country, ‘Tis of Thee,” whose melody is identical to “God Save the Queen,” the national anthem of the United Kingdom, also served as the de facto national anthem.

After the War of 1812 and the subsequent American wars, other songs emerged to compete for popularity at public events, including “America the Beautiful,” which itself was considered prior to 1931 as a candidate.

The Star-Spangled Banner : Texts by Francis Scott Key

The Star-Spangled BannerOn September 3, 1814, following the burning of Washington and the raid on Alexandria, Francis Scott Key and John Stuart Skinner left Baltimore aboard the HMS Minden, a cartel ship flying the flag of truce on a mission approved by President James Madison.

Their objective was to obtain an exchange of prisoners, one of whom was William Beanes, the elderly and popular physician of the town of Upper Marlboro and a friend of Key’s who had been captured in his home.

Beanes was accused of aiding in the arrest of British soldiers. Key and Skinner boarded the British flagship HMS Tonnant on September 7 and spoke with Major General Robert Ross and Vice Admiral Alexander Cochrane over dinner as the two officers discussed war plans.

Ross and Cochrane initially refused to release Beanes, but relented after Key and Skinner showed them letters written by wounded British prisoners commending Beanes and other Americans for their good treatment.

Because Key and Skinner had heard the details of the plans for the attack on Baltimore, they were held captive until after the battle, first aboard HMS Surprise , then again on HMS Minden .

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After the bombardment, some British gunboats attempted to cross the fort and land in a bay west of it, but were repelled by fire from Fort Covington, the city’s last line of defense.

During the rainy night, Key had witnessed the bombardment and observed that the fort’s smaller “storm flag” continued to fly, but once the barrage of Congreve bullets and rockets stopped, he would not know what it looked like. the battle until dawn. By the morning of September 14, the storm flag had been lowered and the larger flag raised.

At the time of this bombardment, HMS Terror and HMS Meteor provided some of the “bombs that explode in the air.”

The “Star Banner” with 15 stars and 15 stripes that inspired the poem.

Key was inspired by the U.S. victory and the sight of the large U.S. flag flying triumphantly over the fort.

This flag, with fifteen stars and fifteen stripes, was made by Mary Young Pickersgill with other workers at her home on Pratt Street in Baltimore.

The flag later became known as the Star-Spangled Banner and is now on display at the National Museum of American History, a treasure of the Smithsonian Institution.

This flag was restored in 1914 by Amelia Fowler and again in 1998 as part of an ongoing conservation program.

The next day, aboard the ship, Key wrote a poem on the back of a letter he kept in his pocket.

Very early on the morning of September 16, he and Skinner were released in Baltimore. He finished the poem at the Indian Queen Hotel, where he was staying, and entitled it “Defense of Fort M’Henry.”

It was first published nationally in The Analectic Magazine.

Much of the idea for the poem, including the flag imagery and some of the text, comes from an earlier song by Key, also to the tune of “The Anacreontic Song.”

The song, known as “When the Warrior Returns,” was written in honor of Stephen Decatur and Charles Stewart upon their return from the First Barbary War.

Taking into account the absence of Francis Scott Key’s elaboration before his death in 1843, some have speculated more recently about the meaning of the phrases or verses, especially the phrase “the hireling and the slave” in the third verse.

According to British historian Robin Blackburn, the phrase refers to the thousands of former slaves in the British ranks organized as the Colonial Marine Corps, who had been freed by the British and asked to be placed in the line of battle “where they could expect to meet” their ex-masters.”

Mark Clague, professor of musicology at the University of Michigan, argues that the “two central lines of Key’ s text defame the British enemy in the War of 1812” and “in no way glorify or celebrate slavery.”

Clague writes that “For Key … the British mercenaries were villains and the colonial marines were traitors who threatened to start a national insurrection.”

This bitterly anti-British nature of verse 3 led to its omission from scores during World War I, when the British and the United States were allies.

Responding to The Intercept writer Jon Schwarz’s assertion that the song is a “Clague argues that the American forces in battle consisted of a mixed group of white and African Americans, and that “the term ‘free men,’ whose heroism is celebrated in the fourth room, would have encompassed both.”

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Others suggest that “Key may have meant the phrase as a reference to the Royal Navy’s printing practice that had been a major factor in starting the war, or as a semi-metaphorical slap in the face of the British invasion force as a whole ( which included a large number of mercenaries).”

The music of John Stafford Smith

Play the score version ( help info )

A memorial to John Stafford Smith in Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester, England

Key gave the poem to his brother-in-law Joseph H. Nicholson who saw that the words matched the popular tune “The Anacreontic Song” by English composer John Stafford Smith.

It was the official song of the Anacreontic Society, an 18th century gentlemen’s club of amateur musicians in London.

Nicholson took the poem to a Baltimore printer, who anonymously made the first known lateral printing on September 17; of these, two known copies survive.

On September 20, Baltimore Patriot and The American released the song, with the note “Tune: Anacreon in Heaven.”

The song quickly became popular, with seventeen newspapers from Georgia to New Hampshire printing it.

Soon after, Thomas Carr of Carr Music Store in Baltimore published the lyrics and music together under the title “The Star Spangled Banner”, although it was originally called “Defense of Fort M’Henry”.

Thomas Carr’s arrangement introduced the elevated fourth that became the standard deviation of “The Anacreontic Song.”

The song became even more popular and its first public performance took place in October when it was performed at Captain McCauley’s Washington Irving, then editor of Philadelphia’s Analytic Magazine, reissued the song in November 1814.

In the early 20th century, there were different versions of the song in popular use. In search of a singular, standard version, President Woodrow Wilson commissioned the U.S. Bureau of Education to provide this official version.

In response, the Bureau enlisted the help of five musicians to agree on an arrangement. These musicians were Walter Damrosch, Will Earhart , Arnold J. Gantvoort, Oscar Sonneck, and John Philip Sousa.

The standardized version that was voted on by these five musicians was first performed at Carnegie Hall on December 5, 1917, in a program that included Gabriel Pierné’s Carillon and La croisade des enfants.

The concert was organized by the Oratorio Society of New York and conducted by Walter Damrosch. An official handwritten version of the final vows of these five men has been found, and it shows the vows of each of the five men counted, bar by bar.

National Anthem : The Star-Spangled Banner

Memorial plaque in Washington, DC marking the site at 601 Pennsylvania Avenue where “The Star-Spangled Banner” was first sung in public

A plaque posted at Fort Meade, South Dakota, indicates that the idea of making “The Star Spangled Banner” the national anthem began on their parade ground in 1892.

Colonel Caleb Carlton, commander-in-chief, established the tradition that the song was played. “in retreat and at the end of fashion shows and concerts.” Carlton explained the custom to Governor Sheldon of South Dakota who “promised me that he would try to get the custom established among the state militia.”

Carlton wrote that after a similar discussion, Secretary of War Daniel S. Lamont issued an order that “it should ring out at every army post every night during the retreat.”

In 1899, the U.S. Navy officially adopted “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson ordered that “The Star-Spangled Banner” be played in the military and other appropriate occasions.

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The performance of the song two years later in the seventh inning of the first game of the 1918 World Series, and then in every game of the series, is often cited as the first instance of the anthem being played at a baseball game, although there is evidence that the “Star-Spangled Banner” was played as early as 1897 at the opening ceremonies in Philadelphia, and then more regularly at the New York Polo Grounds beginning in 1898.

In any case, the tradition of playing the national anthem before the start of each baseball game during World War II.

On April 10, 1918, John Charles Linthicum , United States Congressman from Maryland , introduced a bill officially recognizing “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the national anthem.

The bill was not approved. On April 15, 1929, Linthicum reintroduced the bill, the sixth time it has done so. On November 3, 1929, Robert Ripley drew a sign in his underwritten comic strip, Ripley’s Believe it or Not! , saying “Believe it or Not, America has no national anthem.”

In 1930, the Veterans of Foreign Wars launched a petition for the United States to officially recognize “The Star-Spangled Banner” as its national anthem.

Five million people signed the petition. The petition was submitted to the United States House Judiciary Commission on January 31, 1930. On the same day, Elsie Jorss-Reilley and Grace Evelyn Boudlin sang the song to the committee to refute the perception that it was too high pitched to be sung by a normal person.

The committee voted to send the bill to the House for a vote. The House of Representatives passed the bill the same year. The Senate passed the bill on March 3, 1931.

President Herbert Hoover signed the bill on March 4, 1931, officially adopting “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the national anthem of the United States of America.

As currently codified, the United States Code declares that “[t]he composition consisting of the words and music known as the Star-Spangled Banner is the national anthem.”

Although the four stanzas of the poem officially comprise the national anthem, only the first stanza is generally sung; the other three are much less well-known.

In the fourth verse, Key’s version of the poem published in 1814 is written as follows: “And let this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust! ” . as the national motto of the United States by the United States Congress, the words of the fourth verse of The Star Spangled Banner were raised in the arguments supporting the adoption of the motto.

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