- Francis Scott Key
name = Francis Scott Key
Poet, lawyer, district attorney
image_size = 200px
birth_date = birth date|1779|8|1|mf=y
Carroll County, Maryland, United States
nationality = flagicon|USA American
death_date = death date|1843|1|11|mf=y
Baltimore, Maryland, United States
names in other languages =
religion = The Episcopal Church
Francis Scott Key (
August 1, 1779– January 11, 1843) was an American lawyer, author, and amateur poet, from Georgetown, who wrote the words to the United States' national anthem, " The Star-Spangled Banner".
Francis Scott Key was born to Ann Louis Penn Dagworthy (Charlton) and Captain
John Ross Keyat the family plantation Terra Rubra in what was Frederick County and is now Carroll County, Maryland. His father John Ross Keywas a lawyer, a judge and an officer in the Continental Army.
He studied law at St. John's College,
Annapolis, Marylandand also learned under his uncle Philip Barton Key.Hubbell, Jay B. "The South in American Literature: 1607-1900". Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1954: 300.]
"The Star-Spangled Banner"
War of 1812, Key, accompanied by the American Prisoner Exchange Agent Colonel John Stuart Skinner, dined aboard the British ship HMS "Tonnant", as the guests of three British officers: Vice Admiral Alexander Cochrane, Rear Admiral Sir George Cockburn, and Major General Robert Ross. Skinner and Key were there to negotiate the release of a prisoner, Dr. William Beanes. Beanes was a resident of Upper Marlboro, Marylandand had been captured by the British after he placed rowdy stragglers under citizen's arrest with a group of men. Skinner, Key, and Beanes were allowed to return to their own sloop, but were not allowed to return to Baltimore because they had become familiar with the strength and position of the British units and with the British intent to attack Baltimore. As a result of this, Key was unable to do anything but watch the bombarding of the American forces at Fort McHenryduring the Battle of Baltimoreon the night of September 13– September 14, 1814.Hubbell, Jay B. "The South in American Literature: 1607-1900". Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1954: 301.]
When the smoke cleared, Key was able to see an American flag still waving. On the way back to Baltimore, he was inspired to write a poem describing his experience, "The Defence of Fort McHenry", which he published in the "Patriot" on
September 20, 1814. He intended to fit the rhythms of composerJohn Stafford Smith's " To Anacreon in Heaven". It has become better known as " The Star Spangled Banner". Under this name, the song was adopted as the American national anthem, first by an Executive Order from President Woodrow Wilsonin 1916 (which had little effect beyond requiring military bands to play it) and then by a Congressional resolution in 1931, signed by President Herbert Hoover.
In 1832, Key served as the attorney for
Sam Houstonduring his trial in the U.S. House of Representatives for assaulting another Congressman. [ [http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/HH/fho73.html Sam Houston] . Handbook of Texas Online.] He published a prose work called "The Power of Literature, and Its Connection with Religion" in 1834.
In 1835, Key prosecuted
Richard Lawrencefor his unsuccessful attempt to assassinate President of the United States Andrew Jackson.
In 1843, Key died at the home of his daughter Elizabeth Howard in Baltimore from
pleurisyand was initially interred in Old Saint Paul's Cemeteryin the vault of John Eager Howard. In 1866, his body was moved to his family plot in Frederick at Mount Olivet Cemetery. Though Key had written poetry from time to time, often with heavily religious themes, these works were not collected and published until 14 years after his death.
The Key Monument Association erected a memorial in 1898 and the remains of both Francis Scott Key and his wife were placed in a crypt in the base of the monument.
Other related items
In 1861, Key's grandson was imprisoned in
Fort McHenrywith the Mayor of Baltimore, George William Brown, and other locals deemed to be pro-South.
Key was a distant cousin and the namesake of
F. Scott Fitzgeraldwhose full name was Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald. His direct descendants include geneticist Thomas Hunt Morgan, guitarist Dana Key, and the American fashion designer and socialite Pauline de Rothschild.
His sister, Anne Phoebe Charlton Key, married
Roger B. Taney, future Chief Justice of the United Statesand author of the Court's Dred Scott decision. Robert Altmancredited Key with the "title song" of " Brewster McCloud", though it contained only John Stafford Smith's instrumentals.
Monuments and memorials
*Two bridges are named in his honor. The first is the Francis Scott Key Bridge between the Rosslyn section of
Arlington County, Virginia, and Georgetown in Washington, D.C.. Scott's Georgetown home, which was demolished in 1947 (as part of construction for the Whitehurst Freeway), was located where the bridge intersects with M St., the location is now the Francis Scott Key park. [cite web
title=Francis Scott Key Park
publisher=Historical Marker Database
*The other bridge is the Francis Scott Key Bridge, part of the Baltimore Beltway crossing the outer harbor of
Baltimore, Maryland. Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge is located at the approximate point where the British anchored to shell Fort McHenry.
St. John's College, Annapolis, which Key graduated from in 1796, has an auditoriumnamed in his honor.
*Francis Scott Key was inducted into the
Songwriters Hall of Famein 1970.
*He is buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Frederick. His family plot is next to Thomas Johnson, the first governor of Maryland, and friend Barbara Fritchie, who allegedly waved the American flag out of her home in defiance of
Stonewall Jackson's march through the city during the Civil War.
*Francis Scott Key Hall at the
University of Maryland, College Parkis named in his honor. It is on the longest mall of any university in the United States.Fact|date=February 2008 The George Washington Universityalso has a residence hall in Key's honor at the corner of 19th and F Streets.
*Francis Scott Key also has a school named after him in
Brooklyn, New York. I.S 117 is a junior high school located in the Fort Greenesection of Brooklyn on Willoughby Avenue. It houses 6th, 7th, and 8th grade classrooms as well as a District 75 Special Education unit. The Special Education classes include children who are emotionally disturbed. For more information on the school and its programs please visit the schools main site, [http://www.p369k.org P369k] , located in Downtown Brooklyn.
Francis Scott Key High Schoolin rural Carroll County, Maryland.
Francis Scott Key Middle School(at least three)
*Francis Scott Key Mall in
Frederick County, Maryland.
*A monument to Key was commissioned by San Francisco businessman James Lick, who donated some $60,000 for a sculpture of Key to be raised in Golden Gate Park. [cite web
title=Francis Scott Key
date=March 14, 1897
publisher=The New York Times
accessdate=2008-02-17] The travertine monument was executed by sculptor William W. Story in Rome in 1885-87. [Ibid.] [cite web
title=San Francisco Landmark 96: Francis Scott Key Monument, Golden Gate Park
publisher=Noehill in San Francisco
accessdate=2008-02-17] The current budget of the city of San Francisco allocates some $140,000 to renovate the Key monument, which the city notes is about to be lost to environmental degradation if repairs are not made. (Restoration of the monument recently began and is slated to be finished by September 2008, according to the city.)Fact|date=June 2008
*The US Navy named a submarine in his honor, the
USS Francis Scott Key
War of 1812
* [http://www.usflag.org/history/francisscottkey.html Short biography]
* [http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=578 Francis Scott Keys's biographic sketch] at
Find A Grave
* [http://www.cyberhymnal.org/bio/k/e/key_fs.htm Francis Scott Key biography at Cyber Hymnal]
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