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Francis Scott Key

Born in 1779 - Died in 1843

Francis Scott Key<BR>
In 1813 the commander of Ft. McHenry asked for a flag so big that "the British have no trouble seeing it from a distance." He asked Mary Young Pickersgill to make the flag for him. Her thirteen year old daughter Caroline helped her. She used 400 yards of fine wool. They cut 15 stars that were two feet across. There were
8 red and 7 white stripes. The stripes were each two feet wide. When it was finished it measured 30 by 42 feet and cost $405.90.

During this time Francis Scott Key was a lawyer in Georgetown, just a few miles from Washington D.C. He and his wife Mary had 6 sons and 5 daughters.

In 1814, the British captured Washington and set the Capitol on fire. President James Madison and his wife Dolley had to leave the White House and run to a safer place.

After this attack, the Americans knew that Baltimore would be attacked next. The British had captured Mr. Key's friend. His name was William Beanes and he was a doctor. Key and another man set out to try to save Dr. Beanes' life. They told the British the doctor had helped to save British soldiers who had been wounded. They agreed to free him, but they wouldn't let them leave because the three men had overheard the British making plans to attack. So they were placed under guard on a British ship.

It was from this ship Francis Scott Key watched the bombing of Ft. McHenry. There was a lot of smoke and haze, but when daylight came, he could see the flag was still waving.


He was so inspired he began to write a poem on the back of a letter he had in his pocket. He later finished the poem and showed it to his brother-in-law who took it to a printer and had copies made of it. Two of these copies survive today.

Newspapers started printing it and people began singing it to a familiar tune.

The Star Spangled Banner was adopted as our national anthem on March 3, 1931.

The flag which flew over Ft. McHenry is now at the Smithsonian in the Museum of American History. The flag is very fragile and they keep a curtain in front of it to protect it from the light and dust. They show the flag for a few moments once every hour when the museum is open to the public.

This biography by Patsy Stevens, a retired teacher, was written in 2001.

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From Word Central's Student Dictionary
by Merriam - Webster

(Pronunciation note: the schwa sound is shown by ə)

Pronunciation: 'kap-ət-əl, 'kap-təl
Function: noun
: the building in which a state legislature meets...

inspired, inspire
Pronunciation: in-'spI(ə)r
Function: verb
...: to cause to have a particular thought or feeling
(a childhood that inspired her with a desire for education) ...

Pronunciation: 'an(t)-thəm
Function: noun
1 : a sacred composition with words usually from the Scriptures
2 : a song of praise or gladness

Pronunciation: 'fraj-əl, -"Il
Function: adjective
: easily broken or destroyed : delicate...

Research Links

See The flag that Francis Scott Key saw at Fort McHenry.

Famous Americans Coloring Pages

Fort McHenry National Monument
Teacher's Guide

The Star Spangled Banner
the text as originally written and changes to it

The Star Spangled Banner
free sheet music

Poems of Francis Scott Key


Press "Go" to search for books about Francis Scott Key


Order the following books from Amazon.

Francis Scott Key, Patriotic Poet
by Susan R. Gregson (selected pages) Order here

The Star Spangled Banner
by Debbie L. Yanuck (selected pages) Order here

The Flag Maker
by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Claire A. Nivola (selected pages) Order here

Records of the Columbia Historical Society, Washington D.C. Volume 12 - Francis Scott Key

Keep on sewing, Betsy Ross!: a fun song about the first American flag
by Michael Dahl, Order here

O Say Can You See
by Francis Scott Key, Star Spangled Baby Ltd (picture book, no preview)

Francis Scott Key and "The Star Spangled Banner"
by Lynea Bowdish, Harry Burman (no preview)

The Star Spangled Banner, On My Own History
by Catherine A. Welch, Carrie H. Warwick (selected pages)

The Star Spangled Banner
by Debra Hess (selected pages)

The Star Spangled Banner, Graphic Library
by Ryan Jacobson (selected pages)

The Writing of "The Star Spangled Banner"
by Sabrina Crewe, Scott Ingram (selected pages)

The Star Spangled Banner in Translation: What It Really Means
by Elizabeth Raum, Holt Merchant (selected pages)

Credits and Solutions

The picture on this page may be used without permission.
It is in the public domain and can be found at the Library of Congress.

Picture courtesy of Wikipedia.

Puzzles on these pages courtesy of
Songs of Praise and Armored Penguin

* Word Match Solution

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More info on his personal life please
dont make the page so long if there is barely any info.
Who was the author of this page?

You can find the information here:

this was an awesome resource for my history paper, thanks!
this is very informative. very nice when working on a US History project, paper or even studying for tests
this is amazing lolz!!!! :P
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