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Star-Spangled Banner

 Related Terms

• Francis Scott Key
Fort McHenry
War of 1812
Battle of Baltimore


Definition: America's national anthem. The words were written by Francis Scott Key during the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British in the War of 1812. The music was composed in 1777 by John Stafford Smith, an Englishman, as a setting for a poem. Union soldiers sang it during the Civil War, and American soldiers sang it during World War I. But it wasn't the official national anthem until March 3, 1931, when President Herbert Hoover signed a bill naming it so.

Related Resources:
The War of 1812
Find out more about the second war between the United States and Great Britain.

The 19th Century
Get a glimpse of what life was like in the exciting 1800s.

Elsewhere on the Web:
Lyrics of the Star-Spangled Banner
Brief history and complete words for all four verses.

The Writing of the Star-Spangled Banner
It's almost as if you're there.

Photos and Audio on the Famous Event
Find out more from NPR.

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