John Stafford Smith

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John Stafford Smith
(1750–1836)

The Star Spangled Banner

Music by John Stafford Smith; words by Francis Scott Key
Baltimore: Carrs Music Store, 1814

13 inches (330 mm)

James Fuld Collection, 2008

Item description: 

Francis Scott Key's poem, inspired by the sight of the United States flag flying defiantly over Fort McHenry after the British attack in September 1812, was set to John Stafford Smith's 1770s melody "To Anacreon in Heaven." The tune, originally with words by Ralph Tomlinson, was composed for the Anacreontic Society, a British music club that held its meetings at the Crown and Anchor Tavern in the Strand. Not until 1931 was "The Star Spangled Banner" declared the nation's official anthem by an act of Congress. Note the misspelling of patriotic in the subtitle in this first edition, one of only a handful of surviving copies.