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Profile of the Day: Francis Scott Key

On the morning after the Battle of Baltimore, lawyer and poet Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the poem “Defence of Fort McHenry,” which would become the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Image: Francis Scott Key / Library of Congress

During the War of 1812, Key accompanied Colonel John Stuart Skinner aboard the British ship HMS Tonnant to negotiate the release of prisoners. During the negotiations, the British attacked Fort McHenry, leaving Key and Skinner powerless to do anything but watch the bombardment of American forces in what would become known as the Battle of Baltimore. At dawn the next morning on September 14, 1814, Key saw the American flag waving in victory above the fort. The image inspired him to pen the poem “Defence of Fort McHenry.” Later, the words were adapted to music and renamed “The Star-Spangled Banner.” In 1931, the song was officially named the national anthem of the United States.

Explore Francis Scott Key’s family tree on Geni and share your connection to the poet.

View Francis Scott Key’s Geni Profile

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