Francis Scott Key

1779 - 1843

Francis Scott Key, American lawyer and poet, who wrote the lyrics for “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the United States national anthem. He was born in Frederick County (now Carroll County), Maryland, and practiced law in Maryland and in the District of Columbia. During the War of 1812 (1812-1815) Key witnessed the British bombardment of Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor. The sight of the American flag still flying over the fort at daybreak inspired him to write the poem “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which he set to the tune of an English drinking song, “To Anacreon in Heaven.” “The Star-Spangled Banner” became the official United States national anthem in 1931. Key also wrote The Power of Literature and Its Connection with Religion (1834) and Poems (posthumously published, 1857).