On Skinner’s way to meet Vice Admiral Alexander Cochrane, Rear Admiral Sir George Cockburn, and Major General Robert Ross on the HMS Tonnant, he stopped at the home of noted lawyer Francis Scott Key and asked for his assistance.
Col. Skinner and Key were welcomed by the British command on September 13, 1814 and was invited to stay for dinner. After secure the release of Dr. Beanes but were not allowed to return to Baltimore. The British felt that Col. Skinner and Key had learned too much about the British forces. Col. Skinner, Key, and Dr. Beanes were provided guest accommodations on the HMS Tonnant.
The Battle of Baltimore began after dinner and raged overnight through the next morning. On September 14, 1814, when the smoke cleared, Key saw the Stars and Stripes still flying over Fort McHenry. Following the battle. Col. Skinner, Key, and Dr. Beanes were allowed to return to Baltimore on their own boat. During the trip, Key wrote a poem entitled “The Defence of Fort McHenry”
On September 20, 1814, Key had the poem published in the newspaper Patriot. After publication, Key set the poem to the tune of John Stafford Smith’s “The Anacreontic Song,” a popular drinking song written for London’s Anacreontic Society. The combination was renamed “The Star Spangled Banner.”
“The Star Spangled Banner” was first recognized by the Navy in 1889. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed an executive order to recognize “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the national anthem. Finally, President Herbert Hoover singed a congressional bill officially making the song the United State’s National Anthem (36 U.S.C. §301).
In 2012, the U.S. Mint issued two coins as part of the Star-Spangled Banner Commemorative Coin Program (authorized by Public Law 111-232). The $5 gold coin “depicts a naval battle scene from the War of 1812, with an American sailing ship in the foreground and a damaged and fleeing British ship in the background” on the obverse and “the first words of the Star-Spangled Banner anthem, O say can you see, in Francis Scott Key’s handwriting against a backdrop of 15 stars and 15 stripes, representing the Star-Spangled Banner flag.”
The obverse of the silver $1 coin “depicts Lady Liberty waving the 15-star, 15-stripe Star-Spangled Banner flag with Fort McHenry in the background.” The reverse shows the waving of a modern American Flag.
The official launch of the 2012 Star-Spangled Banner Commemorative Coin Program was launched at Fort McHenry in Baltimore. You can read about that launch here.
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