Just weeks after the British burned the U.S. Capitol, they set out for Baltimore.
On the way they caught an elderly physician of Upper Marlboro, Dr. William Beanes. The town feared Dr. Beanes would be hanged so they asked a young lawyer, Francis Scott Key, to sail with Colonel John Skinner under a flag of truce to the British flagship TONNANT and arrange a prisoner exchange.
Concerned their plans of attacking Baltimore would be revealed, the British placed Francis Scott Key and Colonel Skinner under armed guard aboard the H.M.S. SURPRISE, then on a sloop where they watched the night of SEPTEMBER 13, 1814, as Fort McHenry was bombarded.
The next morning, “through the dawn’s early light,” Key saw the flag still flying.
Elated, Key penned the Star-Spangled Banner, which states in the 4th verse: “O! thus be it ever when free men shall stand, Between their loved home and the war’s desolation; Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n-rescued land, Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserved us a nation! Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just; And this be our motto, ‘In God is our trust!’ And the star spangled banner in triumph shall wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!”
William J. Federer is a nationally recognized author, speaker, and president of Amerisearch, Inc, which is dedicated to researching our American heritage. The American Minute radio feature looks back at events in American history on the dates they occurred, is broadcast daily across the country and read by thousand on the internet.