Francis Scott Key
Francis Scott Key circa 1825
|4th United States Attorney for the District of Columbia|
|President|| Andrew Jackson |
Martin Van Buren
|Preceded by||Thomas Swann|
|Succeeded by||Philip Richard Fendall II|
|Born||August 1, 1779|
Frederick County, Maryland (now Carroll County)
|Died||January 11, 1843 63) (aged|
|Resting place||Mt. Olivet Cemetery|
|Spouse(s)||Mary Tayloe Lloyd|
|Children||11, including Philip|
|Relatives|| Philip Barton Key (uncle)|
Francis Key Howard (grandson)
F. Scott Fitzgerald (cousin)
Roger B. Taney (brother-in-law)
|Occupation||Poet, lawyer, district attorney|
Francis Scott Key (August 1, 1779 – January 11, 1843) was an American lawyer, author, and amateur poet from Frederick, Maryland, who is best known for writing the lyrics for the American national anthem "The Star-Spangled Banner".
Key observed the British bombardment of Fort McHenry in 1814 during the War of 1812. He was inspired upon seeing the American flag still flying over the fort at dawn and wrote the poem "Defence of Fort M'Henry"; it was published within a week with the suggested tune of the popular song "To Anacreon in Heaven". The song with Key's lyrics became known as "The Star-Spangled Banner" and slowly gained in popularity as an unofficial anthem, finally achieving official status more than a century later under President Herbert Hoover as the national anthem. The national motto "In God We Trust" derives from a line in "The Star-Spangled Banner".
Key was a lawyer in Maryland and Washington D.C. for four decades and worked on important cases, including the Burr conspiracy trial, and he argued numerous times before the Supreme Court. He was nominated for District Attorney for the District of Columbia by President Andrew Jackson, where he served from 1833 to 1841. Key was a devout Episcopalian.
Key owned slaves from 1800, during which time abolitionists ridiculed his words, claiming that America was more like the "Land of the Free and Home of the Oppressed".As District Attorney, he suppressed abolitionists and did not support an immediate end to slavery. He was also a leader of the American Colonization Society which sent freed slaves to Africa. He freed some of his slaves in the 1830s, paying one ex-slave as his farm foreman. He publicly criticized slavery and gave free legal representation to some slaves seeking freedom, but he also represented owners of runaway slaves.
Key's father John Ross Key was a lawyer, a commissioned officer in the Continental Army, and a judge.His mother Ann Phoebe Dagworthy Charlton was born February 6, 1756, to Arthur Charlton, a tavern keeper, and his wife, Eleanor Harrison of Frederick in the colony of Maryland.
Key grew up on the family plantation Terra Rubra in Frederick County, Maryland (now Carroll County). John's College, Annapolis, Maryland, in 1796 and read law under his uncle Philip Barton Key who was loyal to the British Crown during the War of Independence. He married Mary Tayloe Lloyd on January 1, 1802.He graduated from St.
During the War of 1812, Key and British Prisoner Exchange Agent Colonel John Stuart Skinner dined aboard the HMS Tonnant as the guests of Vice Admiral Alexander Cochrane, Rear Admiral George Cockburn, and Major General Robert Ross. Skinner and Key were there to negotiate the release of prisoners, one of whom was Dr. William Beanes, a resident of Upper Marlboro, Maryland who had been arrested after jailing British troops who were taking food from local farms. Skinner, Key, and Beanes were not allowed to return to their own sloop because they had become familiar with the strength and position of the British units and their intention to launch an attack upon Baltimore, and Key was unable to do anything but watch the bombarding of the American forces at Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore on the night of September 13–14, 1814.
At dawn, Key was able to see an American flag waving, and he later wrote a poem about his experience entitled "Defence of Fort M'Henry" which was published in William Pechin's 1916, and then by a Congressional resolution in 1931 signed by President Herbert Hoover.American and Commercial Daily Advertiser on September 21, 1814. He took it to music publisher Thomas Carr, who adapted it to the rhythms of composer John Stafford Smith's "To Anacreon in Heaven", a popular tune that Key had already used as a setting for his 1805 song "When the Warrior Returns", celebrating American heroes of the First Barbary War. It was somewhat difficult to sing, yet it became increasingly popular, competing with "Hail, Columbia" (1796) as the de facto national anthem by the time of the Mexican–American War and the American Civil War. The song was finally adopted as the American national anthem more than a century after its first publication, first by an Executive Order from President Woodrow Wilson in
The third stanza of the Star-Spangled Banner makes disparaging mention of blacks and demonstrates Key's opinion of their seeking freedom at the time by escaping to the British, who promised them freedom from American enslavement.
Key was a leading attorney in Frederick, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., for many years, with an extensive real estate and trial practice. He and his family settled in Georgetown in 1805 or 1806, near the new national capital. He assisted his uncle Philip Barton Key in the sensational conspiracy trial of Aaron Burr and in the expulsion of Senator John Smith of Ohio. He made the first of his many arguments before the United States Supreme Court in 1807. In 1808, he assisted President Thomas Jefferson's attorney general in United States v. Peters.
In 1829, Key assisted in the prosecution of Tobias Watkins, former U.S. Treasury auditor under President John Quincy Adams, for misappropriating public funds. He also handled the Petticoat affair concerning Secretary of War John Eaton,and he served as the attorney for Sam Houston in 1832 during his trial for assaulting Representative William Stanbery of Ohio. After years as an adviser to President Jackson, Key was nominated by the President to District Attorney for the District of Columbia in 1833. He served from 1833 to 1841 while also handling his own private legal cases. In 1835, he prosecuted Richard Lawrence for his attempt to assassinate President Jackson at the top steps of the Capitol, the first attempt to kill an American president.
Key purchased his first slave in 1800 or 1801 and owned six slaves in 1820.He freed seven slaves in the 1830s, one of whom continued to work for him for wages as his farm's foreman, supervising several slaves. Key also represented several slaves seeking their freedom, as well as several slave-owners seeking return of their runaway slaves. Key was one of the executors of John Randolph of Roanoke's will, which freed his 400 slaves, and Key fought to enforce the will for the next decade and to provide the freed slaves with land to support themselves.
Key is known to have publicly criticized slavery's cruelties, and a newspaper editorial stated that "he often volunteered to defend the downtrodden sons and daughters of Africa." The editor said that Key "convinced me that slavery was wrong—radically wrong".
A quote increasingly credited to Key stating that free blacks are "a distinct and inferior race of people, which all experience proves to be the greatest evil that afflicts a community" is erroneous.The quote is taken from an 1838 letter that Key wrote to Reverend Benjamin Tappan of Maine who had sent Key a questionnaire about the attitudes of Southern religious institutions about slavery. Rather than representing a statement by Key identifying his personal thoughts, the words quoted are offered by Key to describe the attitudes of others who assert that formerly enslaved blacks could not remain in the U.S. as paid laborers. This was the official policy of the American Colonization Society. Key was an ACS leader and fundraiser for the organization, but he himself did not send the men and women he freed to Africa upon their emancipation. The original confusion around this quote arises from ambiguities in the 1937 biography of Key by Edward S. Delaplaine.
Key was a founding member and active leader of the American Colonization Society (ACS), whose primary goal was to send free blacks to Africa.Though many free blacks were born in the United States by this time, historians argue that upper-class American society, of which Key was a part, could never "envision a multiracial society". The ACS was not supported by most abolitionists or free blacks of the time, but the organization's work would eventually lead to the creation of Liberia in 1847.
In the early 1830s American thinking on slavery changed quite abruptly. Considerable opposition to the American Colonization Society's project emerged. Led by newspaper editor and publisher Wm. Lloyd Garrison, a growing portion of the population noted that only a very small number of free blacks were actually moved, and they faced brutal conditions in West Africa, with very high mortality. Free blacks made it clear that few of them wanted to move, and if they did, it would be to Canada, Mexico, or Central America, not Africa. The leaders of the American Colonization Society, including Key, were predominantly slaveowners. The Society was intended to preserve slavery, rather than eliminate it. In the words of philanthropist Gerrit Smith, it was "quite as much an Anti-Abolition, as Colonization Society"."This Colonization Society had, by an invisible process, half conscious, half unconscious, been transformed into a serviceable organ and member of the Slave Power."
The alternative to the colonization of Africa, project of the American Colonization Society, was the total and immediate abolition of slavery in the United States. This Key was firmly against, with or without slaveowner compensation, and he used his position as District Attorney to attack abolitionists.In 1833, he secured a grand jury indictment against Benjamin Lundy, editor of the anti-slavery publication Genius of Universal Emancipation , and his printer William Greer, for libel after Lundy published an article that declared, "There is neither mercy nor justice for colored people in this district [of Columbia]". Lundy's article, Key said in the indictment, "was intended to injure, oppress, aggrieve, and vilify the good name, fame, credit & reputation of the Magistrates and constables" of Washington. Lundy left town rather than face trial; Greer was acquitted.
In a larger unsuccessful prosecution, in August 1836 Key obtained an indictment against Dr. Reuben Crandall, brother of controversial Connecticut teacher Prudence Crandall, who had recently moved to Washington, D.C. It accused Crandall of "seditious libel" after two marshals (who operated as slave catchers in their off hours) found Crandall had a trunk full of anti-slavery publications in his Georgetown residence/office, five days after the Snow riot, caused by rumors that a mentally ill slave had attempted to kill an elderly white woman. In an April 1837 trial that attracted nationwide attention and that congressmen attended, Key charged that Crandall's publications instigated slaves to rebel. Crandall's attorneys acknowledged he opposed slavery, but denied any intent or actions to encourage rebellion. Evidence was introduced that the anti-slavery publications were packing materials used by his landlady in shipping his possessions to him. He had not "published" anything; he had given one copy to one man who had asked for it.
Key, in his final address to the jury said:
Are you willing, gentlemen, to abandon your country, to permit it to be taken from you, and occupied by the abolitionist, according to whose taste it is to associate and amalgamate with the negro? Or, gentlemen, on the other hand, are there laws in this community to defend you from the immediate abolitionist, who would open upon you the floodgates of such extensive wickedness and mischief?"
The jury acquitted Crandall.This public and humiliating defeat, as well as family tragedies in 1835, diminished Key's political ambition. He resigned as District Attorney in 1840. He remained a staunch proponent of African colonization and a strong critic of the abolition movement until his death.
Crandall died shortly after his acquittal of pneumonia contracted in the Washington jail.
Key was a devout and prominent Episcopalian. In his youth, he almost became an Episcopal priest rather than a lawyer.Throughout his life he sprinkled biblical references in his correspondence. He was active in All Saints Parish in Frederick, Maryland, near his family's home. He also helped found or financially support several parishes in the new national capital, including St. John's Episcopal Church in Georgetown and Christ Church in Alexandria (at the time, in the District of Columbia).
From 1818 until his death in 1843, Key was associated with the American Bible Society.He successfully opposed an abolitionist resolution presented to that group around 1838.
Key also helped found two Episcopal seminaries, one in Baltimore and the other across the Potomac River in Alexandria (the Virginia Theological Seminary). Key also published a prose work called The Power of Literature, and Its Connection with Religion in 1834.
The US national motto "In God We Trust" was adapted from a phrase in Key's "Star-Spangled Banner", the fourth stanza of which includes the phrase, "And this be our motto: 'In God is our Trust'", leading some to speculate that the phrase was derived from the song.
On January 11, 1843, Key died at the home of his daughter Elizabeth Howard in Baltimore from pleurisyat age 63. He was initially interred in Old Saint Paul's Cemetery in the vault of John Eager Howard but in 1866, his body was moved to his family plot in Frederick at Mount Olivet Cemetery.
The Key Monument Association erected a memorial in 1898 and the remains of both Francis Scott Key and his wife, Mary Tayloe Lloyd, were placed in a crypt in the base of the monument.
Despite several efforts to preserve it, the Francis Scott Key residence was ultimately dismantled in 1947. The residence had been located at 3516–18 M Street in Georgetown.
Though Key had written poetry from time to time, often with heavily religious themes, these works were not collected and published until 14 years after his death. Two of his religious poems used as Christian hymns include "Before the Lord We Bow" and "Lord, with Glowing Heart I'd Praise Thee".
In 1806, Key's sister, Anne Phoebe Charlton Key, married Roger B. Taney, who would later become Chief Justice of the United States. In 1846 one daughter, Alice, married U.S. Senator George H. Pendleton and another, Ellen Lloyd, married Simon F. Blunt. In 1859, Key's son Philip Barton Key II, who also served as United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, was shot and killed by Daniel Sickles —a U.S. Representative from New York who would serve as a general in the American Civil War —after he discovered that Philip Barton Key was having an affair with his wife. Sickles was acquitted in the first use of the temporary insanity defense. In 1861, Key's grandson Francis Key Howard was imprisoned in Fort McHenry with the Mayor of Baltimore George William Brown and other locals deemed to be Confederate sympathizers.
Key was a distant cousin and the namesake of F. Scott Fitzgerald, whose full name was Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald. His direct descendants include geneticist Thomas Hunt Morgan, guitarist Dana Key, and American fashion designer and socialite Pauline de Rothschild.
Frederick Douglass was an American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman. After escaping from slavery in Maryland, he became a national leader of the abolitionist movement in Massachusetts and New York, gaining note for his oratory and incisive antislavery writings. Accordingly, he was described by abolitionists in his time as a living counter-example to slaveholders' arguments that slaves lacked the intellectual capacity to function as independent American citizens. Likewise, Northerners at the time found it hard to believe that such a great orator had once been a slave.
"The Star-Spangled Banner" is the national anthem of the United States. The lyrics come from the "Defence of Fort M'Henry", a poem written on September 14, 1814, by 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet Francis Scott Key after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships of the Royal Navy in Baltimore Harbor during the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812. Key was inspired by the large U.S. flag, with 15 stars and 15 stripes, known as the Star-Spangled Banner, flying triumphantly above the fort during the U.S. victory.
William Lloyd Garrison , who signed and printed his name Wm. Lloyd Garrison, was a prominent American abolitionist, journalist, suffragist, and social reformer. He is best known for his widely-read anti-slavery newspaper The Liberator, which he founded in 1831 and published in Boston until hereditary slavery in the United States was abolished by Constitutional amendment in 1865. He was one of the founders of the American Anti-Slavery Society, and promoted immediate, as opposed to gradual, emancipation of slaves in the United States.
Fort McHenry is a historical American coastal pentagonal bastion fort located in the Locust Point neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland. It is best known for its role in the War of 1812, when it successfully defended Baltimore Harbor from an attack by the British navy from the Chesapeake Bay on September 13–14, 1814. It was first built in 1798 and was used continuously by the U.S. armed forces through World War I and by the Coast Guard in World War II. It was designated a national park in 1925, and in 1939 was redesignated a "National Monument and Historic Shrine".
The Society for the Colonization of Free People of Color of America, commonly known as the American Colonization Society (ACS), was founded in 1816 by Robert Finley, to encourage and support the voluntary migration of free African-Americans to the continent of Africa.
The Battle of Baltimore was a sea/land battle fought between British invaders and American defenders in the War of 1812. American forces repulsed sea and land invasions off the busy port city of Baltimore, Maryland, and killed the commander of the invading British forces. The British and Americans first met at the Battle of North Point. Though the Americans retreated, the battle was a successful delaying action that inflicted heavy casualties on the British, halted their advance and, consequently, allowed the defenders at Baltimore to properly prepare for an attack.
Mary Pickersgill, was the maker of the Star Spangled Banner Flag hoisted over Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812. The daughter of another noted flag maker, Rebecca Young, Pickersgill learned her craft from her mother, and, in 1813, was commissioned by Major George Armistead to make a flag for Baltimore's Fort McHenry that was so large that the British would have no difficulty seeing it from a great distance. The flag was installed in August 1813, and, a year later, during the Battle of Baltimore, Francis Scott Key could see the flag while negotiating a prisoner exchange aboard a British vessel, and was inspired to pen the words that became the United States National Anthem.
Prudence Crandall was an American schoolteacher and activist.
Mount Olivet Cemetery is a cemetery in Frederick, Maryland. The cemetery is located at 515 South Market Street and is operated by the Mount Olivet Cemetery Company, Inc.
Marc Leepson is an American journalist, historian, and author.
William Beanes was an American physician during the U.S. colonial period.
Andrew Thompson Judson was a United States Representative from Connecticut and a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut.
Roger Brooke Taney was the fifth Chief Justice of the United States, holding that office from 1836 until his death in 1864. He delivered the majority opinion in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), ruling that African-Americans could not be considered citizens and that Congress could not prohibit slavery in the territories of the United States. Prior to joining the Supreme Court, Taney served as the United States Attorney General and United States Secretary of the Treasury under President Andrew Jackson.
Rebecca (Flower) Young was a flag maker during the American Revolution. Her name appears in the logs of the commissary general for making "Continental Standards" as early as 1781, making her one of the earlier verified makers of the Flag of the United States. In addition to flags, she was also paid for making blankets and drum cases between the years of 1780 and 1785. In 1781, Young ran an ad in the Pennsylvania Packet advertising "all kinds of colors for the Army and Navy." She also sewed the standard for the First American Regiment under Colonel Josiah Harmar.
Slavery in Maryland lasted around 200 years, from its beginnings in 1642 when the first Africans were brought as slaves to St. Mary's City, to its end after the Civil War. While Maryland developed similarly to neighboring Virginia, slavery declined here as an institution earlier, and it had the largest free black population by 1860 of any state. The early settlements and population centers of the province tended to cluster around the rivers and other waterways that empty into the Chesapeake Bay. Maryland planters cultivated tobacco as the chief commodity crop, as the market was strong in Europe. Tobacco was labor-intensive in both cultivation and processing, and planters struggled to manage workers as tobacco prices declined in the late 17th century, even as farms became larger and more efficient. At first, indentured servants from England supplied much of the necessary labor but, as their economy improved at home, fewer made passage to the colonies. Maryland colonists turned to importing indentured and enslaved Africans to satisfy the labor demand.
Abolitionism in the United States was the movement which sought to end slavery in the United States and American involvement in the slave trade immediately, being active both before and during the American Civil War. In the Americas and western Europe, abolitionism was a movement which sought to end the transatlantic slave trade and set the enslaved free. In the 18th century, enlightenment thinkers condemned slavery on humanistic grounds and Quakers and some Evangelical denominations condemned slavery as un-Christian. At that time, most slaves were Africans, but thousands of Native Americans were also enslaved. In the 18th century, as many as six million Africans were transported to the Americas as slaves, at least a third of them on slave ships bound for North America, including the Thirteen Colonies. The colony of Georgia originally prohibited slavery, before reversing the prohibition.
African Americans in Maryland are residents of the state of Maryland who are of African-American ancestry. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, African Americans were 30% of the state's population.
The Snow Riot was a riot and lynch mob in Washington, D.C. in August 1835. An attack on free blacks in the city by whites, the Snow Riot wreaked havoc on anything affiliated with free blacks for days, destroying or damaging many of their establishments. The name of the riot comes from one of the first destinations the mob attacked, the restaurant owned by a free black man, Beverly Snow's Epicurean Eating House. After attacking the restaurant, the mob destroyed the school Arthur Bowen went to, because he was suspected of being taught the abolition of slavery there. The larger context of the attack on the school was the white working-class men's frustration over free blacks' ability to work, and their resentment of black competition for jobs. The clear result was the unleashing of white terror against blacks. The riot began on 12 August 1835 and continued for days in the nation's capital, and it was not until President Andrew Jackson intervened that it stopped.
Reuben Crandall, younger brother of educator Prudence Crandall, was a physician who was arrested in Washington, D.C., on August 10, 1835, on charges of "seditious libel and inciting slaves and free blacks to revolt", the libels being abolitionist materials portraying American slavery as cruel and sinful. He was nearly killed by a mob that wanted to hang him, and avoided that fate only because the mayor called out the militia. The Snow Riot ensued. Although a jury would find him innocent, his very high bail meant he remained in the Washington jail for almost eight months, where he contracted tuberculosis. He died soon after his release.
The Dawn's Early Light is a 1972 non-fiction book by Walter Lord about the War of 1812 Battle of Baltimore and the events leading up to it. Lord said he wrote the book because of the event's significance in American history. It is one of his 13 bestsellers.
For more than a year there have been floating rumors of improper intimacy between Mr. Key and Mrs. Sickles They have from time to time attended parties, the opera, and rode out together. Mr. Sickles has heard of these reports, but would never credit them until Thursday evening last. On that evening, just as a party was about breaking up at his house, Mr Sickles received among his papers...
Charles Marburg gave $25,000 to his brother Theodore to commission a monument to his favorite poet, Francis Scott Key. The French sculptor Marius Jean Antonin Mercie was the selected artist. At the time, Mercié was known for European sculptures as well as the Robert E. Lee (1890) equestrian bronze in Richmond, Virginia, and collaboration on General Lafayette (1891) in the District of Columbia.
Maryland's first governor, Thomas Johnson, is buried there, as is Barbara Fritchie
She was a friend of Francis Scott Key
Francis Scott Key, the author of "The Star-Spangled Banner," is to have a monument erected to his memory by the citizens of Baltimore, Md., the city in which he died. The monument will be in the form of a bronze statue of heroic size, with a suitable pedestal – the work of Alexander Doyle, a sculptor of this city. ... There is a monument to Key in Golden Gate Park. It was executed by William W. Story ...