How does the background of the U.S. nationwide anthem reflect the country’s lengthy struggle through racial, financial and gender inequality?


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The flag that flew over Ft McHenry in 1814 (Credit: Smithsonian Institution Archives through Wikimedia)


It is famous that Francis Scott Key is the author of the renowned words “the land also of the cost-free and also the residence of the brave.” He wrote those words in 1814 and also, ever given that 1931, they have actually been sung as the nationwide anthem of the USA.

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What is far much less well-known are his views on race.

In his career as lawyer and also public servant, Key spoke publicly of Africans in America as “a distinct and inferior race of world, which all endure proves to be the biggest evil that afflicts a community.”

He saw them as a shiftless and also undependable populace — a nuisance to white people.

Key believed the solution to the slaincredibly trouble wregarding free the enslaved Africans and eliminate them by helping them colonize Africa. He operated on behalf of this racial dream for even more than two decades. He was, in the words of a frifinish, a distressingly significant male.

Key had come to be famous practically by accident. He composed the “Star Spangled Banner” in September 1814 and it came to be instantly famous.

Amazingly, the song was the product of a humiliation. Francis Scott Key was a veteran of what some dubbed “the Bladensburg Races,” the total collapse of American forces during the British intrusion of Washington in August 1814.

When the untrained Amerideserve to militia faced the dogged advancement by British troops, backed by artillery fire, the Americans damaged rank by the hundreds and then by the thousands.

They ran as quick as they can, hence the humorous referral to “The Races.” Most sindicate ran back toward Washington, including Lieutenant Key. In the Bladensburg Races, Francis Scott Key was a sprinter.

Seeking to redeem his battlearea faientice, Key negotiated with British forces that had actually arrested a family frifinish.

In his effort to secure his friend’s release, he regulated to join him aboard a British ship as the fleet bombarded Fort McHenry in Baltieven more harbor.

On September 14, 1814, the British proved their prowess in the spectacular and also useless screen of armed forces power by pummeling the fort via bombs.

The Americans did not rerotate fire. But they did hang a red, white and blue flag out. At dawn — much to everyone’s surprise — the British had actually not breached the fort’s walls and also the flag was still tbelow.

Key chose to compose a patriotic song. He fitted his words to a famous English drinking club song dubbed, “To Anacreon in Heaven.” Originally, the song had 4 stanzas, although just one is sung this particular day. In the now-foracquired final stanza, Key wrote:

Then overcome we have to as soon as 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 complimentary and the home of the brave.”

In Key’s developmental lyrics, America would overcome in the name of a simply god.

After the defense of Fort McHenry, the War of 1812 concerned a close — Britain had defeated France in Europe and also did not care to bother even more with the Americans.

If the USA had not won the War of 1812, it had not lost it either. Americans were free — white Americans, that is.

Key’s name spcheck out throughout the United States bereason of the popularity of “the Star Spangled Banner.” The song was sung almost everywhere, though it would certainly not formally be embraced as the nationwide anthem of the USA for one more century.

The designation of the “Star-Spangled Banner” as the national anthem was the culmicountry of a 15-year lobbying project a century later on led by veterans’ organizations that overcame resistance from New England also and from pacifists that criticized the song’s aggressive imagery.

In 1930, Congressmale John Linthicum, a Democrat from Baltimore, introduced a bill to designate the Star Spangled Banner as the national anthem.

Wide majorities of the Housage and the Senate apshowed it a year later on and President Herbert Hoover signed the bill into law on March 3, 1931.

But the words that ring in every American’s ears around freedom and braextremely take on new definition once one looks further right into the Washington summer of 1835.

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Continue to the second part of this essay.