Original Star-Spangled Banner manuscript displayed at Maryland State House

U.S. & World

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WDVM) — Francis Scott Key wrote the Star-Spangled Banner to celebrate the U.S. defeat of the British in the War of 1812. He had no idea his four-paragraph poem would become the national anthem.

In fact, it was more than a century later, in March of 1931 that President Calvin Coolidge, designated the opening verse of Key’s creation as the Star-Spangled Banner.

We are most familiar with it at patriotic events, military parades and sporting events. But to visitors in the Maryland State House Tuesday, it took on special meaning since the state historical society brought it to display in the Old Senate Chamber.

It is there that George Washington wrote his letter of resignation from the Continental Congress after the Revolutionary War defeat of the British some thirty years earlier.

Mark Letzer, president and CEO of the Maryland Historical Society notes the sense of celebration Key felt when, two years after the battle with the British began, the American flag was waving proudly over the military triumph. “To Key,” says Letzer, “it was like winning the second American Revolution.”

In fact, George Washington wrote a letter of resignation from the Continental Congress some thirty years earlier after his troops defeated the British. That letter is displayed in the Maryland State House too and Key’s manuscript was placed in close proximity for devotees of American history to see.

“Having both documents next to one another is significant,” observes Allison Tolman, vice president of the Maryland Historical Society. Following the display in the nation’s oldest continuous state house still in use, Key’s manuscript is returning to the Society offices in Baltimore’s Mt. Vernon neighborhood.

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