Francis Scott Key

Francis Scott Key

Infobox Person
name = Francis Scott Key
occupation = Poet, lawyer, district attorney

image_size = 200px
caption =
birth_date = birth date|1779|8|1|mf=y
birth_place = Carroll County, Maryland, United States
nationality = flagicon|USA American
death_date = death date|1843|1|11|mf=y
death_place = 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 Key at the family plantation Terra Rubra in what was Frederick County and is now Carroll County, Maryland. His father John Ross Key was a lawyer, a judge and an officer in the Continental Army.

He studied law at St. John's College, Annapolis, Maryland and 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"

During the 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, Maryland and 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 McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore on the night of September 13September 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 composer John 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 Wilson in 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.

Later life

In 1832, Key served as the attorney for Sam Houston during his trial in the U.S. House of Representatives for assaulting another Congressman. [ [ 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 Lawrence for 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 pleurisy and was initially interred in Old Saint Paul's Cemetery in 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 McHenry with 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 Fitzgerald whose 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 States and author of the Court's Dred Scott decision.

Robert Altman credited 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 auditorium named in his honor.

*Francis Scott Key was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 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 Park is named in his honor. It is on the longest mall of any university in the United States.Fact|date=February 2008 The George Washington University also 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 Greene section 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, [ P369k] , located in Downtown Brooklyn.

*Francis Scott Key High School in 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
] 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
] 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


ee also

* War of 1812


External links

* [ Short biography]
* [ Francis Scott Keys's biographic sketch] at Find A Grave
* [ Francis Scott Key biography at Cyber Hymnal]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Francis Scott Key — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Retrato de Francis Scott Key …   Wikipedia Español

  • Francis Scott Key — (1779 1843) Francis Scott Key auf einem Gemälde von Percy Moran Franc …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Francis Scott Key — Portrait de Francis Scott Key. Né le 1er août 1779 et mort le 11 janvier 1843, Francis Scott Key est un avocat américain célèbre pour avoir écrit les paroles de l hymne national …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Francis Scott Key — noun United States lawyer and poet who wrote a poem after witnessing the British attack on Baltimore during the War of 1812; the poem was later set to music and entitled The Star Spangled Banner (1779 1843) • Syn: ↑Key • Instance Hypernyms:… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Francis Scott Key — (1779 1843) U.S. poet, author of the The Star Spangled Banner (national anthem of the USA) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Francis Scott Key Family Resort — (Оушен Сити,США) Категория отеля: 3 звездочный отель Адрес: 12806 Ocean Gatewa …   Каталог отелей

  • Francis Scott Key Elementary School (Arlington, Virginia) — Francis Scott Key Elementary School is one of the eighteen elementary schools in Arlington, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C.. It is a countywide school, meaning that it draw students from various neighborhoods in the county. It is named …   Wikipedia

  • Francis Scott Key Bridge — Francis Scott Key Bridge, or Key Bridge can refer to:*Francis Scott Key Bridge (Baltimore), a bridge crossing the outer harbor of Baltimore, Maryland *Francis Scott Key Bridge (Washington), a bridge crossing the Potomac River between Washington,… …   Wikipedia

  • Francis Scott Key Bridge (Baltimore) — Infobox Bridge bridge name= Francis Scott Key Bridge caption= official name= carries= 4 lanes of MD 695 crosses= Patapsco River locale= maint= Maryland Transportation Authority id= design= continuous truss arch bridge with suspended plate girder… …   Wikipedia

  • Francis Scott Key Bridge (Washington) — Infobox Bridge bridge name= Francis Scott Key Bridge caption= The Key Bridge crossing the Potomac from Washington DC (right) to Arlington, Va. (left). (Photo by Peter Roof) official name= also known as= carries= 6 lanes of US 29 crosses= Potomac… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.