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Casebook: The War of 1812
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The Star-Spangled Banner
The Star-Spangled Banner
September 14 1814

   Here are the famous, stirring words that Francis Scott Key penned on the back of an envelope as he witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry, Baltimore, on September 13-14, 1814.


   Oh, say can you see, by the dawn's early light,
   What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
   Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
   O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
   And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
   Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
   O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
   O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
   
   On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
   Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
   What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
   As it fitfully blows, now conceals, now discloses?
   Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
   In full glory reflected now shines on the stream:
   'Tis the star-spangled banner! O long may it wave
   O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
   
   And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
   That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
   A home and a country should leave us no more?
   Their blood has wiped out their foul footstep's pollution.
   No refuge could save the hireling and slave
   From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
   And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
   O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
   
   Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
   Between their loved homes and the war's desolation!
   Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land
   Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
   Then conquer we must, for our cause it is just,
   And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
   And the star-spangled banner forever shall wave
   O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
   
   Francis Scott Key

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Related pages:
  Key, Francis Scott
       Dissertations: 'Chastising Jonathan': British Views of the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake 
  Star-Spangled Banner
       People: Francis Scott Key 
       People: Mary Young Pickersgill 

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Copyright © Christopher T. George, 2012