How does the background of the U.S. National anthem reflect the country’s lengthy struggle through racial, economic and also gender inequality?


The flag the flew over fort McHenry in 1814 (Credit: Smithsonian institution Archives via Wikimedia)

It is well known that Francis Scott key is the author of the well known words “the soil of the cost-free and the home of the brave.” He wrote those native in 1814 and, ever because 1931, they have been sung together the nationwide anthem of the unified States.

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What is far less known are his see on race.

In his career together lawyer and public servant, vital spoke publicly of africans in America together “a distinct and also inferior race of people, which all suffer proves to be the best evil that afflicts a community.”

He saw them together a shiftless and untrustworthy population — a nuisance come white people.

Key thought the equipment to the slavery trouble was to complimentary the enslaved Africans and get escape of castle by helping them colonize Africa. He worked on instead of of this racial dream for more than 20 years. The was, in the indigenous of a friend, a distressingly severe man.

Key had end up being famous virtually by accident. He composed the “Star Spangled Banner” in September 1814 and it became instantly popular.

Amazingly, the tune was the product of a humiliation. Francis Scott an essential was a veteran the what some called “the Bladensburg Races,” the full collapse that American forces during the British invasion of Washington in august 1814.

When the untrained American militia confronted the dogged advance by brother troops, donate by pho fire, the Americans broke rank by the hundreds and then by the thousands.

They ran as rapid as castle could, hence the humorous recommendation to “The Races.” Most merely ran ago toward Washington, including Lieutenant Key. In the Bladensburg Races, Francis Scott key was a sprinter.

Seeking to redeem his battlefield failure, an essential negotiated v British forces that had actually arrested a family friend.

In his effort to for sure his friend’s release, he controlled to join him plank a british ship as the fleet bombarded fort McHenry in Baltimore harbor.

On September 14, 1814, the British verified their prowess in the spectacular and also useless screen of military power by pummeling the ft with bombs.

The americans did not return fire. But they did hang a red, white and blue flag out. In ~ dawn — lot to everyone’s surprise — the British had actually not breached the fort’s walls and the flag was still there.

Key chose to compose a patriotic song. He fitted his words come a renowned English drink club tune called, “To Anacreon in Heaven.” Originally, the tune had four stanzas, although just one is sung today. In the now-forgotten last stanza, crucial wrote:

Then dominate we need to when our cause it is just/And this it is in our motto: “In God is our Trust.”/And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave/O’er the land of the totally free and the house of the brave.”

In Key’s formative lyrics, America would conquer in the name of a just god.

After the defense of fort McHenry, the war of 1812 pertained to a close — britain had defeated France in Europe and did not care to bother further with the Americans.

If the united States had not won the battle of 1812, it had not lost it either. Americans were free — white Americans, the is.

Key’s name spread out throughout the unified States since of the popular of “the Star Spangled Banner.” The tune was sung everywhere, despite it would certainly not official be adopted as the national anthem that the United states for another century.

The designation of the “Star-Spangled Banner” together the national anthem to be the culmination the a 15-year lobbying campaign a century later on led by veterans’ institutions that overcame resistance from new England and from pacifists who criticized the song’s aggressive imagery.

In 1930, Congressman john Linthicum, a Democrat indigenous Baltimore, introduced a invoice to designate the Star Spangled Banner as the nationwide anthem.

Wide majorities that the House and also the Senate authorized it a year later and President Herbert Hoover signed the bill into law on march 3, 1931.

But the words that ring in every American’s ears about freedom and also bravery take it on new definition when one looks additional into the Washington summer the 1835.

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