Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

The story behind the lyrics of “The Star-Spangled Banner”

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Full disclosure: Francis Scott Key, who wrote the lyrics, is like me an alumnus of St. John’s College in Annapolis MD.

Meg Fairfax Fielding posts on Facebook:

To everyone sharing the video about the national anthem, please be aware that there are numerous inaccuracies in it. Actually, most of the main facts are flat out wrong.

1. It was the War of 1812, not the Revolutionary War — there were 15 states, not 13 colonies.

2. There was no ultimatum to Baltimore, nor to the U.S., as this fellow describes it.

3. Key negotiated for the release of one man, Dr. Beanes. There was no brig full of U.S. prisoners.

4. It’s Fort McHenry, not “Henry.” The fort was named after James McHenry, a physician who was one of the foreign-born signers of the Constitution, who had assisted Generals Washington and Lafayette during the American Revolution, and who had served as Secretary of War to Presidents Washington and Adams.

5. Fort McHenry was a military institution, a fort defending Baltimore Harbor. It was not a refuge for women and children.

6. The nation would not have reverted to British rule had Fort McHenry fallen.

7. There were 50 ships, not hundreds. Most of them were rafts with guns on them. Baltimore Harbor is an arm of Chesapeake Bay; Fort McHenry is not on the ocean.

8. The battle started in daylight.

9. Bogus quote: George Washington never said “What sets the American Christian apart from all other people in this world is he will die on his feet before he will live on his knees.” Tough words. Spanish Civil War. Not George Washington. I particularly hate it when people make up stuff to put in the mouths of great men. Washington left his diaries and considerably more — we don’t have to make up inspiring stuff, and when we do, we get it wrong.

10. The battle was not over the flag; the British were trying to take Baltimore, one of America’s great ports. At this point, they rather needed to since the Baltimore militia had stunned and stopped the ground troops east of the city. There’s enough American bravery and pluck in this part of the story to merit no exaggerations.

11. To the best of our knowledge, the British did not specifically target the flag.

12. There were about 28 American casualties. Bodies of the dead were not used to hold up the flag pole — a 42 by 30 foot flag has to be on a well-anchored pole, not held up by a few dead bodies stacked around it.

And note that the lyrics explicitly celebrate the “free” (i.e., not slaves), and includes the lines:

No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave . . .

Written by Leisureguy

25 September 2017 at 12:30 pm

Posted in Daily life

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