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Harper's Encyclopedia of United States History (ed. Benson Lossing) 2 0 Browse Search
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Harper's Encyclopedia of United States History (ed. Benson Lossing), Key, Francis Scott 1780- (search)
deck of the Minden between midnight and dawn, that Key composed the popular song, The Star-Spangled banner, the first stanza of which expressed the feelings of thousands of eyewitnesses of the scene, and is reproduced on the preceding page from the original manuscript. The rude substance of the song was written on the back of a letter which Key happened to have in his pocket. On the night after his return to Baltimore he wrote it out in full and read it to his uncle, Judge Nicholson, one of the defenders of the fort, and asked his opinion of it. The pleased judge took it to the printing-office of Capt. Benjamin Edes, and caused it to be printed in hand-bill form. Samuel Sands set up the song in type, printed it, and distributed it among the citizens. It was first sung by Charles Durang, at a restaurant next door to the Holliday Street Theatre, Baltimore, to an assemblage of patriotic defenders of Baltimore, and after that nightly at the theatre and everywhere in public and private.