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Baltimore-Born 'Star Spangled Banner' Turns 200

Updated: Thursday, July 10 2014, 07:11 PM EDT

One of the symbols of Independence Day is the national anthem, penned in Baltimore 200 years ago.

When attorney Francis Scott Key penned those words 200 years ago he was onboard an enemy ship negotiating the release of a prisoner when the British launched their attack on Baltimore's Fort McHenry. His original manuscript from that fateful day is part of the permanent collection at the Maryland historical society.

All four verses of what would become the Star Spangled Banner are squeezed onto one page. Key's handwriting gets smaller and smaller on the page as he begins to run out of room. To preserve the manuscript, the museum insures it sees just one hour of light a day.

What started as a poem would later become an anthem for millions of voices. Through the years the delivery has changed but the impact of that one-page poem has stretched broader than the stripes and brighter than the stars.

Francis Scott Key's original manuscript is currently on loan to the Smithsonian Institution but will return to Baltimore next week. In September it will move to Fort McHenry for a weeklong celebration of its 200th anniversary.

Baltimore-Born 'Star Spangled Banner' Turns 200


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Washington Times