A short essay on the Star Spangled-banner - Amato P. Mongelluzzo

The Star-spangled banner, the National Anthem of the United States of America is a poem inspired by the Battle of Baltimore, fought on September 12-14, 1814 during the War of 1812.

During the British campaign against Washington, D.C., an elderly and respected physician, Dr. William Beanes was arrested for unfriendly acts toward the British soldiers which resulted in his arrest.

Francis Scott Key, a prominent lawyer and friend of Dr. Beanes was sent by President James Madison to obtain his release. Following negotiations, the British agreed to release Beanes. However, since the British were going to attack Baltimore, Maryland next, they would allow no one to go ashore.

The British landed soldiers on September 12 and engaged in a brisk land battle, however, they were not able to capture Baltimore. As part of a two pronged attack, the British now sent their naval fleet to attack and destroy the port city. The main defense of Baltimore harbor was Fort McHenry. For 25 hours the British fleet fired rockets and bombs at the fort.

The fort's defenders bravely withstood the bombardment and did not surrender. The British realized they could not take Baltimore without paying for it with heavy casualties. Since they were not willing to pay this price, they departed from Baltimore.

During the bombardment, Key was down river and while watching was inspired to write a poem that tells the story of the battle. When he reached Baltimore he finished the poem. Key wrote the poem to match the meter tobe sung to an old English tune To Anacreon in Heaven.

The song slowly grew in popularity and was well known and used by both sides during the Civil war. In later years it was very popular with the military and it was used as an "unofficial" national anthem. During World War I, the song became so widely accepted that a drive resulted in the Congress making it the National Anthem in 1931.

The National Museum of American History, which is part of the Smithsonian Institution, displays in its main lobby the Star-Spangled Banner which is 30 feet wide and 42 long. Each star is two feet from point to point and each stripe is two feet wide. Because of its deteriorated condition, most Americans have long assumed that this flag flew during the battle. However, historians using both British and American sources have found that during the battle there was a late summer storm which would have prevented the 1260 square foot woolen flag from being flown. A 17 by 25 storm flag would have been the size of the actual flag flying during the battle. The large flag, however, was raised the following morning as the British were departing from Baltimore. This would have been the flag Key would have seen when entered Baltimore.

The manuscript that Key wrote was not on the back of an envelope, they had not yet been invented. The original manuscript is now on display at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore.

Fort McHenry still stands and it is part of the National Park Service. The fort is the only site to have both a national monument and historic shrine disignation.