It’s ironic when you think that the melody used for “The Star-Spangled Banner” was written by the British composer John Stafford Smith.
Library of Congress, LC-USZC4-6200
O Say Can You Sing?
Francis Scott Key writes the poem that would become “The Star-Spangled Banner”
Key was watching the bombardment of Fort McHenry in Baltimore by the British when he wrote a poem he called “Defence of Fort McHenry.” An important battle in the War of 1812 was raging, and Key was among those aboard American ships in the Chesapeake Bay. Rockets rained down all night on the fort, and Key wondered whose flag would be flying in the morning light.
Imagine his relief to see that “Star-Spangled Banner” waving above the fort the next day—tattered but proud. The poem was set to an existing tune and printed in several newspapers. It became very popular and was often played at public events. In 1931, President Hoover signed a law designating the song as our national anthem.