British naval forces begin moving toward Fort McHenry in Baltimore after setting fire to Washington. A lawyer and soldier by the name of Francis Scott Key is dispatched by President James Madison on a peaceful mission to facilitate a prisoner exchange.
Aboard the British vessel HMS Tonnant, Key successfully arranges for the prisoner’s release, but is held captive in the harbor while the British fleet pounds Fort McHenry with cannon fire overnight.
In the morning, as the mist clears, Francis Scott Key witnesses the raising of the ceremonial American flag above the fort. The British had not taken Fort McHenry during the night and retreated to beyond artillery range. Francis Scott Key, inspired to commemorate the victory, begins writing a poem to the tune of a familiar drinking song.
That poem you know as “The Star-Spangled Banner.” But what do you really know about Francis Scott Key? And what about the song’s next verse? That’s today, on Signal Cannon.
- Signal Cannon is produced by me, Billy Donahoe. It’s distributed by Play Too Much.
- Our theme music was written by Eric Donahoe. Show art by Julianne Waber.
- “The Star-Spangled Banner” was performed by the U.S. Army 1st Armored Division Band.
- “Hail Columbia” performed by the United States Navy Ceremonial Band.
- Mike Pence Inauguration from PBS NewsHour. “Four Ruffles and Flourishes” performed by the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets. “Hail Columbia” performed by the United States Marine Band.
- “To Anacreon In Heaven” is from The Smithsonian Museum of American History.
- Blackburn, Robin. The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery, 1776-1848. Verso, 1988. P-286-290. Google Books. Accessed 11 July 2017.
- Butterworth, Hezekiah; Brown, Theron. The Story of the Hymns and Tunes. American Tract Society, 1906. pp. 333-335. Google Books. Accessed 11 July 2017.
- Veltman, Chloe. “Why We Should Sing The Star-Spangled Banner’s Obscure Fifth Verse.” KQED
- Emery, David. “The Star-Spangled Banner and Slavery.” Snopes
- Morley, Jefferson. “Land of the Free: Francis Scott Key, Composer of National Anthem, Was Defender of Slavery.” Huffington Post
- Morley, Jefferson. Snow-Storm in August: The Struggle for American Freedom and Washington’s Race Riot of 1835. Anchor Books, 2012, pp. 40-42. Google Books. Accessed 11 July 2017.
- Leepson, Marc. Francis Scott Key: American Lawyer. Encylopædia Britannica, 2017.
- “Francis Scott Key” National Park Service. 26 February, 2015. Fort McHenry: National Monument and History Shrine Maryland
- “The Star-Spangled Banner and the War of 1812” Smithsonian Institution
- “The Star-Spangled Banner: The Flag That Inspired the National Anthem” Smithsonian National Museum of American History
- The Trial of Reuben Crandall, M.D. H.R. Piercy, 1836. John Baily Pamphlet Collection (Library of Congress)
- “The 58th Presidential Inauguration, January 20th, 2017” Marine Band