Share This Article

On September 12, 1814, a British fleet under Sir Alexander Cochrane began the bombardment of Fort McHenry, the last American defense before Baltimore. Lawyer Francis Scott Key had approached the British attackers seeking the release of a friend who was being held for unfriendly acts toward the British. Key himself was detained overnight on September 13 and witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry from a British ship. As the sun rose, Key was amazed to see the American flag still flying over the battered fort. This experience inspired Key to write the lyrics to ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ and adapt them to the tune of a well-known British drinking song. ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ was officially recognized as the national anthem in 1931.