A Star-Spangled Story: Battle for America

A Star-Spangled Story: Battle for America

"The Star-Spangled Banner" is known by all, treasured for its powerful melody and stirring lyrics. And yet, only about 40% of U.S. citizens know all the words. And even fewer know their meaning. Join us as we travel back to 1814, when Washington D.C. was under British attack during the "Second War of Independence," and the very bricks and mortar of American democracy were reduced to smoking rubble. We examine the battle that inspired witness Francis Scott Key to immortalize its final moments, then reveal how his poem transformed into an anthem.

The Battle of Fort McHenry, Through Francis Scott Key's Eyes

When the British army held Francis Scott Key captive aboard one of their warships during the Battle of Baltimore, they could never have guessed his stay would inspire their enemy's most-patriotic song.

There's MORE to the story. Discover the inspirations, see the artifacts and meet the experts of the Smithsonian Institution.

  • The Flag That Inspired the National Anthem

    Explore the "broad stripes and bright stars" that inspired Francis Scott Key to write a song that eventually became the United States national anthem.

    Connect to Smithsonian: EXPLORE MORE AT SMITHSONIAN'S NATIONAL MUSUEM OF AMERICAN HISTORY

  • The Original Lyrics to the Star-Spangled Banner

    Was the national anthem really set to the melody of a drinking tune? Take a closer look at the original manuscript of Francis Scott Key's song.

    Connect to Smithsonian: READ MORE AT SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE