Was a doctor responsible for “The Star Spangled Banner”

There’s a health care twist to the Star Spangled Banner.  I’m betting this is a bit of trivia most of you didn’t know.  Here’s a health care blog with an Independence Day twist…

Francis Scott Key was born on August 1, 1779 in western Maryland. He attended grammar school and went on to St. John’s College in Annapolis, where he graduated at the young age of 17. By 1805, Key had established a law practice in the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C.

During the British attacks on Washington, D.C., Key’s friend Dr. William Beanes, a much-loved town physician from Upper Marlboro, Maryland was taken prisoner by the British army soon after its departure from Washington. Key left for Baltimore to obtain the services of Colonel John Skinner, the government’s prisoner of war exchange agent.

With approval from President Madison, together Key and Skinner sailed down the bay on a truce ship and met the British fleet. Key successfully negotiated the doctor’s release, but was detained with Skinner and Beanes by the British until the completion of the attack on Baltimore.

At 7 a.m. on September 13, 1814, the British bombardment of Ft. McHenry began. The bombardment continued for 25 hours, with the British firing rockets across the sky.

Francis Scott Key, Col. Skinner, and Dr. Beanes watched the battle with apprehension. They knew that as long as the shelling continued, Fort McHenry had not surrendered. But, long before daylight there came a sudden and mysterious silence. Judging Baltimore as being too costly a prize, the British officers ordered a retreat.

In the predawn darkness, Key waited for the sight that would end his anxiety: the joyous sight of Gen. Armistead’s great flag blowing in the breeze. When daylight came, Key spotted the huge flag waving above the Ft. McHenry.

Thrilled by the sight of the flag and the knowledge that the fort had not fallen, Key took a letter from his pocket, and began to write some verses on the back of it. Later, after the British fleet had withdrawn, Key checked into a Baltimore hotel, and completed his poem on the defense of Fort McHenry. He then sent it to a printer for duplication on handbills, and within a few days the poem was put to the music of an old English song. Both the new song and the flag became known as “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

About Craig Thompson

I am a young professional with two great sons, and I work in the healthcare setting. I am employed in hospital administration and serve as Chief Executive Officer at Golden Valley Memorial Healthcare in Clinton, Missouri. At GVMH we care for our families, friends and neighbors. We're committed to providing the safest, friendliest and most compassionate care to all we serve.
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