Fort McHenry is Full of American Historical Goodness

Fort McHenry sign

Fort McHenry in Baltimore is the sight of the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812.  We remember it best as Francis Scott Key’s inspriation for the national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner.”  Fort McHenry’s museum is full of really cool interactive exhibits about the battle, the war, and the song.  There are different touchscreen kiosks that are exceptionally informative and you can really learn a lot about this piece of American History.  I like me some history now and again, so I found all this stuff more fascinating than I thought I would.

So, here are my top 5 tidbits that I didn’t know about the “Star Spangled Banner,” Francis Scott Key, and the War of 1812 that I learned at Fort McHenry:

5.  Francis Scott Key knew that the phrase “the land of the free” was hypocritical because of slavery and put it in the anthem to emphasize freedom, but he owned slaves and spoke out against Abolitionists.

4.  The War of 1812 was really convoluted and had a number of causes.  A lot of it had to do with maritime issues with Britain.

3.  The citizens of Baltimore basically thought their city would be leveled by the British fleet because of how strong they were in that period of history, Francis S. Keywhich means the fact that Fort McHenry fought them off was almost a miracle.

2. One of the reasons Key’s anthem became the National Anthem was because the success in the War of 1812 is what really started the modern wave of patriotism America now holds.  The song embodied this new spirit in this time.

1.  Key’s song was originally titled “Defence of Fort M’Henry.” A music store owner, Thomas Carr, put the music and lyrics together on a single sheet and then just up a renamed it “The Star Spangled Banner.”  I guess copyright law wasn’t what it is now back then.

One comment Add your comment

Angela Walker

February 13th, 2012
6:31 pm

I had no idea that it was a different name (The Star Spangled Banner). Yup, that renaming would NEVER happen today. Thanks for the 411…I plan on committing this to memory for my next trivia night.