Audience versions of this page: FamilyOn September 13, 1814, the young American lawyer Francis Scott Key was inspired by the successful American defense of Fort McHenry, Maryland, during the War of 1812. The poem he wrote about the battle, “Defense of Fort M’Henry,” was put to music and eventually became the national anthem of the United States, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”Key witnessed the battle while he was briefly detained on British gunboats in Baltimore Harbor, where Fort McHenry is located. Key was negotiating for the release of some American prisoners, and the British temporarily held him after he overheard their plans to attack Baltimore.From the British ships, Key saw the fort’s 5x8 meter (17x25 foot) “storm flag” hit with British rocket fire. Key didn’t know the outcome of the battle until the following morning, when the fort unfurled its massive 9x13 meter (30x42 foot) banner.Set to an already popular tune, “Defense of Fort M’Henry” became one of the most popular patriotic songs of the 19th century. It was officially declared the national anthem in 1931.
Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry anthem Noun
song of strong belief in faith or patriotism.
violent encounter during a conflict.
for a short time.
commanding officer Noun
authority (officer) in charge of a military unit.
protection or resistance to attack.
to confine or delay.
at some point in the future.
military outpost, area, or set of buildings.
small, armed warship.
part of a body of water deep enough for ships to dock.
Encyclopedic Entry: harbor inspire Verb
to influence to act.
body of land surrounded by water.
Encyclopedic Entry: island lawyer Noun
person who studies the law, represents clients, and gives legal advice.
very large or heavy.
to discuss with others of different viewpoints in order to reach an agreement, contract, or treaty.
supporting and celebrating a nation and its people.
written or spoken composition notable for its beauty or rhythm.
to glitter or sparkle.
for a short or limited time.
to uncurl or straighten out.
War of 1812 Noun
(1812-1815) conflict between the United States and the British Empire.
to see and be aware of by personal, first-hand knowledge.