Today we celebrate, “The Star-Spangled Banner”, our beloved national anthem. While it is commonly known that the song was written by poet Francis Scott Key after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships during the War of 1812, many don’t know that the lyrics were taken from a larger poem he penned called “Defence of Fort M’Henry.”
The poem was set to the tune of a popular British song written by John Stafford Smith for the Anacreontic Society, a men’s social club in London. “To Anacreon in Heaven,” with various lyrics, was already popular in the United States. Set to Key’s poem and renamed “The Star-Spangled Banner”, it would soon become a well-known American patriotic song. Although the poem has four stanzas, only the first is commonly sung today.
“The Star-Spangled Banner” was recognized for official use by the U.S. Navy in 1889, and by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in 1916, and was made the national anthem by a congressional resolution on March 3, 1931.