Who Wrote The Star Spangled Banner Poem?

by Amy

“The Star-Spangled Banner” was written by Francis Scott Key, an American lawyer, author, and amateur poet. Born on August 1, 1779, in Frederick County, Maryland, Key was a prominent figure in early 19th-century America. Aside from his famous anthem, Key’s literary works included poems, hymns, and legal writings.

Poem’s Origin and Composition

Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner” in September 1814, during the War of 1812. The poem was inspired by Key’s observations of the British bombardment of Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor. Key, aboard a British ship negotiating the release of American prisoners, witnessed the fierce defense of the fort and was moved by the sight of the American flag still flying proudly over the fort after the battle.

The historical context of the War of 1812 is crucial to understanding the poem. This conflict between the United States and Great Britain, often referred to as America’s second war of independence, solidified American national identity and patriotism. Key’s poem captured the spirit of resilience and determination among Americans during this pivotal period.

Transformation into National Anthem

Initially titled “Defence of Fort M’Henry,” Key’s poem was set to the melody of a popular British drinking song, “To Anacreon in Heaven,” composed by John Stafford Smith. The combination of Key’s words and Smith’s music resonated deeply with the American public. Over time, “The Star-Spangled Banner” gained popularity as a patriotic song, often performed at public events and military ceremonies.

In 1931, President Herbert Hoover signed a congressional resolution officially designating “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the national anthem of the United States. This formal recognition solidified its status as a symbol of American pride and resilience.

Publication and Recognition

Key’s poem was first published in newspapers shortly after he wrote it in September 1814. Its publication sparked immediate interest and acclaim, with many newspapers reprinting the verses. The poem’s vivid imagery and stirring patriotism struck a chord with Americans, reinforcing their resolve during a challenging time.

While Francis Scott Key received recognition for his poetic talent and patriotic fervor during his lifetime, “The Star-Spangled Banner” posthumously became his most enduring legacy. The poem’s lyrics have been memorialized on monuments, taught in schools, and sung by generations of Americans, cementing its place in the annals of American history and culture.

See also: What is a Final Stanza in a Poem?

Cultural and Historical Context

“The Star-Spangled Banner” holds profound cultural and historical significance as a symbol of American identity and resilience. Its themes of freedom, perseverance, and national pride resonate deeply with American values and aspirations. The poem’s portrayal of the American flag enduring amidst the “rockets’ red glare” and “bombs bursting in air” encapsulates the spirit of liberty and defiance that defines the American experience.

Comparative Analysis (Optional)

In comparison to other national anthems and patriotic poems worldwide, “The Star-Spangled Banner” stands out for its evocative imagery and emotional impact. While some national anthems focus on historical events or geographic features, Key’s poem uniquely celebrates the enduring symbol of the American flag and the values it represents. Its adaptation from a wartime poem to a national anthem underscores its versatility and enduring relevance in American culture.


Francis Scott Key’s “The Star-Spangled Banner” remains a powerful testament to the resilience and spirit of the United States. Through its stirring verses and timeless themes, the poem continues to inspire patriotism and pride among Americans. Key’s poetic craftsmanship and ability to capture the essence of American ideals have ensured that “The Star-Spangled Banner” remains a cherished symbol of the nation’s enduring commitment to freedom and liberty.

FAQs “The Star-Spangled Banner” Poem

1. Who first wrote The Star-Spangled Banner?

“The Star-Spangled Banner” was originally written as a poem by Francis Scott Key. Key penned the verses on September 14, 1814, following his witnessing of the British bombardment of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812.

2. Who wrote the poem called The Star-Spangled Banner?

The poem titled “The Star-Spangled Banner” was written by Francis Scott Key. Key, a lawyer and amateur poet, composed the verses after witnessing the American defense of Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor.

3. Who wrote the poem that eventually became The Star-Spangled Banner?

The poem that eventually became “The Star-Spangled Banner” was authored by Francis Scott Key. Originally titled “Defence of Fort M’Henry,” Key’s poem was set to music and later adopted as the national anthem of the United States.

4. Who originally wrote the anthem?

Francis Scott Key originally wrote the lyrics of “The Star-Spangled Banner” as a poem. The lyrics were later set to the melody of a popular British song, “To Anacreon in Heaven,” composed by John Stafford Smith, which transformed it into the anthem known today.

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