The Star-Spangled Banner: The Flag that Inspired the National Anthem

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  • An engaging history of the United States flag known as the Star Spangled Banner, which inspired Francis Scott Key to write the 1814 poem that in 1931 became the American National Anthem. The flag was made during the summer of 1813 as a simple garrison flag, but after the British attacked Baltimore in 1814, it gained recognition as the "Star Spangled Banner"in what became a popular victory song. The author discusses the Battle of Baltimore and the circumstances leading to Key's writing and publication of the poem. The flag became a valued keepsake for Major George Armistead, the commander of Baltimore's Fort McHenry, and was retained by his descendants. In the emotional atmosphere following the Civil War, the song stirred a sense of patriotism in a new generation and Americans came to see the flag as a national treasure.
  • Eventually the family came to believe that the Star Spangled Banner belonged in a museum as an artifact of national heritage. Armistead's grandson, Eben Appleton, made inquires and corresponded with Smithsonian Secretary Charles D. Walcott, and in 1907 Appleton gave the flag on loan to the Smithsonian Institution; he converted the loan to a gift in 1912. Efforts made through the years to preserve the flag are discussed, from 1907 concerns about its deterioration to current conservation actions.


  • Armistead, George 1780-1818
  • Walcott, Charles D (Charles Doolittle) 1850-1927
  • Rathbun, Richard 1852-1918
  • Star-Spangled banner (Song)
  • Star-Spangled Banner (Flag)


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography


Paperback contains illustrations and photographs; two Appendices, Notes and Bibliography Sections are included.

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Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,




  • Artifacts
  • United States - History
  • Secretaries
  • Baltimore, Battle of (Maryland : 1814)
  • Flags
  • National Collections
  • War of 1812
  • Baltimore, Battle of, 1814
  • United States - History--War of 1812


United States

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92 pgs

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