Francis Scott Key, a young poet and lawyer, was aboard a small ship in the Patapsco River as he watched the British fleet relentlessly shell Ft. McHenry. The battle continued for hours, while an enormous American flag waved proudly atop the fort. Key kept vigil through the night, catching glimpses of the red, white, and blue as cannons boomed. Inspired by the fierce battle and filled with patriotic pride, Key wrote a four-stanza poem that captured the hearts of the American public and is beloved to this day.
Join HSP in celebrating Flag Day and the bicentennial of our national anthem with a document display highlighting our collection materials related to our nation’s flag, Francis Scott Key and “The Song Heard Round the World”.
HSP has in its collection a copy of “The Star-Spangled Banner”, penned and signed by Francis Scott Key in 1840. It is one of only three known copies of the song written and signed by Key. Displayed alongside this treasure will be three fragments of the original garrison flag flown atop Ft. McHenry, the flag that inspired Key. These red, white, and blue bits of wool bunting are graciously on loan from the Library Company of Philadelphia.