Skip menu to read main page content

The star-spangled banner


The earliest extant version of Francis Scott Key's poem "Defence of Fort M'Henry," which went on to become the basis of the United States national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner." This manuscript was handwritten by Key, a Maryland lawyer and amateur poet, on September 14, 1814, at the Indian Queen Tavern in Baltimore, Maryland after Key witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British forces in Baltimore Harbor during the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812. The poem was published in the Baltimore Patriot newspaper on September 20, 1814, and was later put to the tune of a popular song at the time titled "To Anacreon in Heaven." It was henceforth known as "The Star-Spangled Banner." In 1931, Herbert Hoover signed into law a bill making the song the national anthem of the United States of America.





10 x 7.625 inches

Object ID



1 page

Resource ID



This manuscript was gifted to the Maryland Center for History and Culture's Baldwin Research Library by Mrs. Thomas C. Jenkins in memory of her husband’s mother, the late Mrs. George C. Jenkins, nee Catherine Key.

Digital Publisher

Digital resource provided by the Maryland Center for History and Culture


This digital image is made available here for private study, scholarship, and research. Commercial and other uses are prohibited without the permission of the Maryland Center for History and Culture. For more information, visit the MCHC’s Reproductions and Permissions web page.