10 Iconic American Things With Foreign Roots
Star Spangled Banner
Not even the Star Spangled Banner, the United States’ national anthem, is entirely American.
The tune of the anthem first appeared in To Anacreon in Heaven, a song written by John Stafford Smith for the Anacreontic Society, an amateur musicians’ club in London. This tune was already popular in both Britain and the colonies.
The lyrics of the song are actually the first verse of Defense of Fort McHenry, a poem by amateur American poet Francis Scott Key. Key’s inspiration came from being present when the fort survived a bombardment by the Royal Navy on September 13 1814, in particular from the fact that “the flag was still there” after the smoke cleared.
Key showed the poem to his brother-in-law Judge Joseph H. Nicholson, who thought the poem would go well with To Anacreon in Heaven and had it printed by a printer in Baltimore. Thomas Carr, a music store owner in the same city, then published the combination of the poem and the tune under the title of Star Spangled Banner.
The Star Spangled Banner became the official anthem of the US Navy in 1889(LINK 15) and of the United States in 1931.