How walk the history of the U.S. National anthem reflect the country’s lengthy struggle v racial, economic and also gender inequality?


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The flag that flew over ft McHenry in 1814 (Credit: Smithsonian college Archives via Wikimedia)


It is famed that Francis Scott crucial is the writer of the well known words “the floor of the free and the house of the brave.” He composed those indigenous in 1814 and, ever since 1931, they have been sung together the nationwide anthem of the joined States.

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What is much less well-known are his views on race.

In his career as lawyer and public servant, an essential spoke publicly of africans in America together “a distinct and inferior race of people, i beg your pardon all suffer proves to it is in the biggest evil that afflicts a community.”

He experienced them together a shiftless and also untrustworthy populace — a nuisance come white people.

Key thought the systems to the slavery trouble was to cost-free the enslaved Africans and also get to escape of lock by helping them colonize Africa. He worked on behalf of this racial dream for much more than 20 years. The was, in the words of a friend, a distressingly significant man.

Key had become famous virtually by accident. He created the “Star Spangled Banner” in September 1814 and it became immediately popular.

Amazingly, the song was the product the a humiliation. Francis Scott vital was a veteran that what some referred to as “the Bladensburg Races,” the complete collapse the American forces during the British invasion of Washington in respectable 1814.

When the untrained American militia challenged the dogged breakthrough by brothers troops, donate by artillery fire, the Americans damaged rank by the hundreds and also then by the thousands.

They ran as rapid as castle could, for this reason the humorous referral to “The Races.” Most just ran ago toward Washington, including Lieutenant Key. In the Bladensburg Races, Francis Scott vital was a sprinter.

Seeking come redeem his battlefield failure, crucial negotiated with British forces that had actually arrested a family friend.

In his initiative to secure his friend’s release, he regulated to sign up with him board a british ship together the fleet bombarded fort McHenry in Baltimore harbor.

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

The americans did no return fire. But they did cave 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 also the flag was still there.

Key chose to write a patriotic song. He fitted his words come a well-known English drinking club song called, “To Anacreon in Heaven.” Originally, the song had 4 stanzas, although just one is sung today. In the now-forgotten final stanza, vital wrote:

Then dominate we need to when our reason 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 floor of the cost-free and the house of the brave.”

In Key’s developmental lyrics, America would overcome in the name of a simply god.

After the defense of ft McHenry, the war of 1812 involved a nearby — brothers had beat France in Europe and did not treatment to bother additional with the Americans.

If the unified States had actually not won the battle of 1812, it had not lost it either. American were complimentary — white Americans, the is.

Key’s name spread out throughout the unified States because of the popularity of “the Star Spangled Banner.” The song was sung everywhere, despite it would certainly not official be adopted as the nationwide anthem of the United claims for another century.

The designation of the “Star-Spangled Banner” as the nationwide anthem was the culmination the a 15-year lobbying project a century later led through veterans’ organizations that overcame resistance from new England and also from pacifists that criticized the song’s aggressive imagery.

In 1930, Congressman john Linthicum, a Democrat native Baltimore, presented a invoice to designate the Star Spangled Banner together the nationwide anthem.

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

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

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