Oh, Ye, gentle mistresses and most distinguished gentlemen, and others… The opinions and observations are solely my own views, and I take full responsibility for any errors of fact, not to mention any predictions that prove to be wildly inaccurate.

Today’s Listening Pleasure: THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER

   “The Defense of Fort McHenry” is a poem, four stanzas in length but one the first stanza can be recited or sung by most Americans. We learn it early on, usually in secondary school music class or when played over the public address system. We hear it at all sporting events and over the last few years the playing of the poem when set to music is met with some controversy…kneeling as a way of protest.

   What is this poem and how did it become the “National Anthem” in 1931?

 Let’s go back in time to what in European History is referred to the Napoleonic Age,(May 1804-April 1814…and again Napoleon returns from ELBA  March-July 1815 aka The Hundred Days) when Napoleon ruled France and said France was always having a go with England, Germany, Austria, Prussia and Russia.

   A few years prior to Napoleon, it is said that our American Revolution which led to THE WAR FOR INDEPENDENCE( they are two separate entities) inspired the French Revolution(1792-1799) which ultimately led to the rise of Napoleon as leader of FRANCE. As leader he conducted what is classified as THE NAPOLEON WARS (1799-1815) primarily against the British. Back in the (newly formed) US of A we had two political factions as GEORGE WASHINGTON and JOHN ADAMS were FEDERALISTS who supported The British sentiments while another bloc of THOMAS JEFFERSON and fellow Republican JAMES MADISON favored the French. If more background is needed: The JAY TREATY is signed November 1794, ratified by US and Great Britain in February 1796 which pissed the French off, then at war with England. They interpreted it as a violation of its own commercial treaty of 1778 with the US. The US and France engage in an undeclared naval war 1798-1800 which led to arbitration between the two nations. And it got nastier from then on as both England and France placed the neutrality of the shipping/trading rights of the U.S. in jeopardy.Then, 1801 THOMAS JEFFERSON becomes the 3rd President of the U.S. The relationships with England begin to deteriorate, and the conflict between France and England escalate, both countries throwing the U.S. mercantile fleets in disarray. Consequently, American ships that obeyed Britain faced capture by the French in European ports, and if they complied with Napoleon’s Continental System, they could fall prey to the Royal Navy. Neutral vessels (USA) were required to get trading licenses while submitting to search and seizure in ports. The British also impressed (kidnapped) our merchants, taking thousands of our sailors into their Royal Navy.  The United States responds with two horrible attempts to rectify our involvement: THE EMBARGO ACT followed a few years later with the NON-INTERCOURSE ACT, both which hurt our economy more than the British or French economies.

   The French needing some cash to fund their wars sold the LOUISIANA PURCHASE to the U.S. for a mere $18.00 a square mile ($15 million) thereby doubling the size of the USA and the USA gaining control of the mighty MISSISSIPPI RIVER, vital to commerce and security of the budding nation. Meanwhile, Americans were attempting to move westward and northward (Canada) while meeting resistance from the Native Americans who lived there.  With some assistance from the British the US was repelled by the Natives. Which in part leads us to the SECOND WAR FOR INDEPENDENCE aka THE WAR OF 1812-1815 as the British successfully  run a blockade our eastern seaboard ports. NAPOLEON is finally defeated in 1814 and the BRITISH through a Russian ambassador attempt a negotiation with the US while still engaged in warfare. 

   THE BATTLE OF FORT McHENRY, a important strategic fort protecting BALTIMORE HARBOR, occurs on September 14, 1814 After 25 hours of intense bombing from British frigates, FRANCIS SCOTT KEY ,a lawyer ,thought that when the morning came the BRITISH flag would be flying over Fort McHenry, but alas, The Stars and Strips was still flying proudly, becoming the turning point of the war. The poem was later put to a popular British song, its name changed to THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER and in 1931 a Congressional Resolution signed by President HERBERT HOOVER becomes our NATIONAL ANTHEM…

to be continued… 

Defence of Fort M’Henry

BY FRANCIS SCOTT KEY

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 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, half conceals, half 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 havock 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 foot-steps’ 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.