The Star-Spangled Banner


Francis Scott Key was a gifted amateur poet and hymnist. Inspired by the sight of the American flag flying over Fort McHenry the morning after the bombardment, he scribbled the initial notes for his poem on the back of a letter. Back in Baltimore, he copied the four verses onto paper, probably making more than one copy. The next morning someone printed the poem as a broadside. Shortly afterward two Baltimore newspapers published it, and by mid-October it had appeared in at least 17 other papers in cities up and down the east coast.