Francis Scott Key, Author of the National Anthem,
The Star Spangled Banner
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FRANCIS SCOTT KEY.
Document Signed, “FS Key.” October 21, 1817. 7½ x 3¼ in., 1 p. Archivally framed.
“Rec. of Mr. [name illegible] two hundred doll. for his fee as [illegible] in my office.
Francis Scott Key (1780-1843). American poet and lawyer, best known for penning the poem “The Defense of Fort McHenry,” which later became “The Star Spangled Banner.” Key was a respected lawyer living in Washington, DC during the War of 1812. After the British attacked the city, badly burning the Capitol building and the White House, Key received an urgent message from the citizens of Baltimore. They needed an expert negotiator immediately to arrange the release of a captured citizen. Key left for Baltimore and witnessed the British attack on the city.
The next morning he saw that the men at Fort McHenry had repelled the invaders and the American flag had survived the assault. Inspired, Key began to compose his famous poem on the back of a letter. Shortly thereafter, he set it to the tune of an English drinking song, “To Anacreon in Heaven.” “The Star Spangled Banner” became the official U.S. national anthem in 1931.
Writing is light but legible.