Star-Spangled Banner Draft

Star-Spangled Banner Draft

The Star-Spangled Banner Draft


Above is something really incredible. This is an original draft of the Star-Spangled Banner written by Francis Scott Key. Originally it was written in September 1814 as the poem, “Defence of Fort M’Henry”. Written during the British siege of Fort McHenry in Baltimore during the War of 1812.

It proved to be very popular and was eventually set to music. Not just any music though but an old British drinking song, “To Anacreon in Heaven” which was already popular in the United States. Not the first British song we appropriated, but it would go on to great things.

The Star-Spangled Banner would grow in popularity and would be adopted by the US Navy in 1889 for official use. President Wilson followed suite in 1916. Finally, after more than a hundred years, Congress passed a resolution naming it as the official national anthem in 1931.

The poem that Francis Scott Key wrote was four stanzas and the song follows suit. Though we pretty much always just sing the first verse. Below we have all four verses. Ready to play ball? (Spelling and punction preserved as per the original.)

Defence of Fort M’Henry


O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bomb 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, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in 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 wash’d 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.

O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when 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 free and the home of the brave.