Francis Scott Key and the Star Spangled Banner

Introduction

Our country's flag! A new national songI have lately seen in the newspapers that the noted flag which waved over Fort McHenry in the bombardment of Baltimore: is in your possession, and is to be sent to the Centennial.

I take the liberty to send you a few particulars about the "Flag". It was made by my mother, Mrs. Mary Pickersgill, and I assisted her. My grandmother, Rebecca Young made the first flag of the Revolution, (under General Washington's direction) and for this reason my mother was selected by Commo. Barney and George Stricker, (family connections), to make this "Star Spangled Banner" which she did, being an exceedingly patriotic woman.

The flag being so very large, mother was obliged to obtain permission from the proprietors of Claggetts brewery which was in our neighborhood, to spread it out in their malt house; and I remember seeing my mother down on the floor, placing the stars: after the completion of the flag, she superintended the topping of it, having it fastened in the most secure manner to prevent its being torn away by (cannon) balls: the wisdom of her precaution was shown during the engagement: many shots piercing it, but it still remained firm to the staff. Your father (Col. Armistead) declared that no one but the maker of the flag should mend it, and requested that the rents should merely be bound around.

The flag contained, I think, four hundred yards of bunting, and my mother worked many nights until 12 o'clock to complete it in the given time...

Extracted from: Letter of Caroline Purdy to Georgiana Appleton, 1876

National History Standards

Materials compiled in this document can be used by educators to fulfill the following National History Standards for Grades K-4:

Topic 3: The History of the United States: Democratic Principles and Values and the Peoples from Many Cultures Who Contributed to Its Cultural, Economic and Political Heritage

STANDARD 4: How democratic values came to be, and how they have been exemplified by people, events, and symbols.
Standard 4B: Demonstrate understanding of ordinary people who have exemplified values and principles of American democracy.
K-4: Analyze in their historical context the accomplishments of ordinary people in the local community now and long ago who have done something beyond the ordinary that displays particular courage or a sense of responsibility in helping the common good. [Assess the importance of the individual in history]
Standard 4E: The student understands national symbols through which American values and principles are expressed.
K-4: Explain why important buildings, statues, and monuments are associated with state and national history, such as the White House, Lincoln Memorial, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Angel Island, Mt. Rushmore, and veterans memorials. [Obtain historical data]

Primary Resources

  1. DESCRIPTION: Fort McHenry National Monument & Historic Shrine, East Fort Avenue at Whetstone Point, Baltimore, MD
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: after 1933
    REPRODUCTIONS: Rights and Reproductions
    SOURCE: Built in America
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress, Prints and Photograph Division, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
  2. DESCRIPTION: Flag House, 844 East Pratt & Albemarle Streets, Baltimore, MD
    ALTERNATE TITLE: Mary Young Pickersgille House; Star Spangled Banner House
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: after 1933
    REPRODUCTIONS: Rights and Reproductions
    SOURCE: Built in America
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress, Prints and Photograph Division, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
  3. DESCRIPTION: Receipt, U.S. Army to Mary Pickersgill showing payment of $405.90 for making the Star-Spangled Banner and $168.54 for making a smaller flag
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: August 19, 1813
    NOTES: Note on reverse indicates that Maj. George Armistead, Fort McHenry's commander, received both flags on Aug. 19, 1813
    SOURCE:Star Spangled Banner
    REPOSITORY: Flag House and Star-Spangled Banner Museum
  4. DESCRIPTION: Portrait, Lt. Col. George Armistead
    ARTIST: Rembrandt Peale
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1816
    REPRODUCTIONS: Copy of original owned by the Maryland Historical Society. For reproduction and permission information, please contact imagingservices@mdhs.org
    REPOSITORY: Maryland Historical Society
  5. DESCRIPTION: Engraving, Francis Scott Key
    ARTIST: Unknown
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: Unknown
    REPOSITORY: Maryland Historical Society
  6. DESCRIPTION: The Star Spangled Banner
    COMPOSER: Francis Scott Key
    DESCRIPTION: Original handwritten manuscript by Francis Scott Key
    REPRODUCTIONS: Copy of original owned by the Maryland Historical Society. For reproduction and permission information, please contact imagingservices@mdhs.org
    REPOSITORY: Maryland Historical Society
  7. DESCRIPTION: Defence of Fort McHenry
    COMPOSER: Francis Scott Key
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: Poem by Francis Scott Key, Tune by John Stafford Smith
    NOTES: First published broadside of poem
    REPRODUCTIONS: For more information, please contact the Special Collections Department: specialcollections@mdhs.org
    SOURCE: Star Spangled Banner Sheet Music Collection
    REPOSITORY: Maryland Historical Society

See also:

Additional Media Resources

Star Spangled Banner. National Museum of American History

Additional Instructional Resources

Love It or Leave It? Exploring the Relationship Between Flags, Anthems and Patriotism. From the New York Times on the Web Learning Network.

The War of 1812 - Baltimore's Role From the National Park Service.

Teacher's Guide, Fort McHenry. From the National Park Service.

The Star-Spangled Banner: Fact or Fiction?. From the UMBC Center for History Education

A History of the War of 1812 and the Star-Spangled Banner. From the National Museum of American History.

Blog Post: Star Spangled Women: Mary Pickersgill. From the National Museum of American History.

Interactive Flag. From the National Museum of American History.

Interactive Star-Spangled Banner. From the National Museum of American History.

Spreading the News. From the National Museum of American History.

Poetry and Our National Anthem. From the National Museum of American History.

Music, Poetry and History. From the National Museum of American History.

Measuring the Flag. From the National Museum of American History.

Design Your Own Family Flag. From the National Museum of American History.

Secondary Resources

Cassell, Frank A. "Baltimore in 1813: A Study of Urban Defense in the War of 1812." Military Affairs (Dec., 1969): 349-361.

Lord, Walter. By the Dawn's Early Light. New York: W.W. Norton, 1972.

Pitch, Anthony S. The Burning of Washington: The British Invasion of 1814. Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1998.

Sheads, Scott Sumpter. Guardian of the Star-Spangled Banner. Maryland: Toomey Press, 1999.

________. "'Yankee Doodle Played': A Letter From Baltimore, 1814." Maryland Historical Magazine (1981): 380-382.

________. "Defending Baltimore in the War of 1812: Two Sidelights." Maryland Historical Magazine (1989): 252-258.

Taylor, Lonn. The Star-Spangled Banner: The Flag and the Anthem It Inspired. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2000

Weeks, Barbara K. "'This Present Time of Alarm': Baltimoreans Prepare for Invasion" Maryland Historical Magazine (1989): 259-266.

Whitehorne, Joseph A. The Battle for Baltimore. Maryland: The Nautical and Aviation Publishing Co. of America, 1997.

Associated Heritage and Preservation Organizations

Fort McHenry National Monument & Historic Shrine
East Fort Avenue
Baltimore, MD
Flag House & Star Spangled Banner Museum
844 East Pratt Street
Baltimore, MD 21202

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Credits

Teaching American History in Maryland is a collaborative partnership of the Maryland State Archives and the Center for History Education (CHE), University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), and the following sponsoring school systems: Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Baltimore City Public School System, Baltimore County Public Schools, and Howard County Public Schools.

Other program partners include the Martha Ross Center for Oral History, Maryland Historical Society, State Library Resource Center/Enoch Pratt Free Library, with assistance from the National Archives and Records Administration and the Library of Congress. The program is funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Education.

This document packet was researched and developed by Nancy Bramucci.

 

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