“The Star-Spangled Banner”, the inspired words penned by lawyer Francis Scott Key while a “guest” on a British ship during the War of 1812 — words that eventually became the official national anthem of the United States of America — wasn’t always the official national anthem.
In fact, it wasn’t even called “The Star-Spangled Banner” when Key first authored it.
Originally titled “Defence of Fort M’Henry”, it took two years of it sitting around collecting dust before it got noticed again.
In 1814, Thomas Carr, a music publisher, put it to the sound of John Stafford Smith’s “To Anacreon in Heaven”*, and a song was born.
For decades, however, the tune competed with another for the championship belt that was THE NATIONAL ANTHEM. And that hymn was the one in the clip below — “Hail Columbia” (you might recognize it — these days it serves as the VP’s official theme music).
In 1916, Woodrow Wilson made it official through an executive order and put the feuding melodies in their place, with Key’s masterwork the victor.
- – “Anacreon” was a Greek writer whose work primarily focused on love, and drinking.