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Francis Scott Key

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Francis Scott Key

Francis Scott Key (August 1, 1779January 11, 1843) was an American lawyer and amateur poet. He is buried in Frederick, Maryland and is an alumnus of St. John's College, Annapolis.

During the War of 1812, Key was detained on a British ship during the battle for Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland harbor. Upon seeing the U.S. flag still flying at dawn, he was inspired to write a poem celebrating the American victory. His poem, "The Defence of Fort M'Henry," was later added to the existing music "To Anacreon in Heaven" by the English composer John Stafford Smith, but the combination came to be known as "The Star-Spangled Banner." Under this name, the song was adopted as the American national anthem in 1931.

Key was a collateral ancestor of F. Scott Fitzgerald. His direct descendants include the 1960s style icon Pauline de Rothschild, fabled Vogue editor-in-chief Diana Vreeland, and guitarist Dana Key.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge in Washington, DC and the Francis Scott Key Bridge crossing the outer harbor of Baltimore, Maryland, are named in his honor.

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