Francis Scott Key first published his impressions of the Fort McHenry victory as a broadside poem, with a note that it should be sung to the popular British melody "To Anacreon in Heaven." Soon after, Thomas Carr's Baltimore music store published the words and music together under the title "The Star-Spangled Banner." The song gained steadily in popularity in the years before the Civil War. By 1861 it shared with "Yankee Doodle" and "Hail Columbia" the distinction of being played on most patriotic occasions. Nonetheless Congress did not make the song the national anthem until 1931.

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 What So Proudly We Hail'd
At Fort McHenry, Francis Scott Key, an amateur poet, hastily scribbled the poem that would become the national anthem.

 The Song
Set to the tune of an 18th-century gentlemen's "constitutional song," Key's poem about the Star-Spangled Banner became a popular hit.
Francis Scott Key’s poem had four verses. Today we sing only the first stanza of his poem. Click here to explore all four.