Guest Post—Marc Leepson on Francis Scott Key (Facts #6–10)

Ten Little-Known Facts about Francis Scott Key (#6–10)
By Marc Leepson

Portriat by Joseph Wood ca.1825

Portriat by Joseph Wood ca.1825

  1. Key was a close confidant of President Andrew Jackson and a member of his Kitchen Cabinet. Informal meetings often took place in Key’s expansive house on M Street (then known as Bridge Street) in Georgetown.
  1. Key served for eight years as U.S. Attorney, appointed by Jackson, in Washington, D.C. During that time he tried several important cases. That included prosecuting the first person who attempted to assassinate a U.S. President, Richard Lawrence, who tried to shoot Andrew Jackson on the Capitol steps on January 30, 1835. When Key realized Lawrence was mentally ill, he agreed with the defense—against Jackson’s wishes—that the man was insane and not responsible for his actions. The jury found Lawrence not guilty by reason of insanity and he spent the rest of his life in mental institutions.
  1. U.S. Attorney Key zealously prosecuted Reuben Crandall, a young doctor, for possessing abolitionist tracts, and a young enslaved man, Arthur Bowen, for attempted murder, two actions action that led to the first race riot in Washington, D.C., in August of 1835.
  1. Key had a long, close friendship with John Randolph of Roanoke (1773-1833), the mercurial, brilliant, and controversial Virginia congressman. The flamboyant Randolph, who never married, was an unlikely friend of the staid father of eleven. The two men met often when Randolph was in Washington and carried on an extensive correspondence when he wasn’t. Randolph named Key an executor of his estate.
  1. In 1823, Frank Key, who had been a trustee of the Maryland General Theological Seminary since 1820, joined with several other pious Episcopalians—including Rev. William Meade—to start a seminary in Alexandria, Virginia, to prepare men for the priesthood. The Protestant Episcopal Theological Seminary—today known as the Virginia Theological Seminary—opened its doors that year with two instructors and fourteen students. Key was a strong supporter of the Seminary until his death in 1843.
Marc-Leepson-pic-tight

Author Marc Leepson

Journalist and historian Marc Leepson is the author of eight books. His most recent is What So Proudly We Hailed: Francis Scott Key a Life, which was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2014. It was the first biography of Key from a major publisher since 1937. His website is www.marcleepson.com

Click here to support Star Spangled Music Foundation by purchasing Marc’s book!

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Guest Post—Marc Leepson on Francis Scott Key (Facts #1–5)

Ten Little-Known Facts about Francis Scott Key
By Marc Leepson

Francis Scott KeyVirtually everyone knows the name Francis Scott Key. And virtually everyone knows it for one reason: for the fact that he was the author of the words that became our National Anthem. But there was much more to Frank Key—as he was known to family and friends—than the words he wrote in Baltimore Harbor on the night of September 13-14, 1814, when he was 35 years old.

Key was born into a prominent Maryland family in 1779, graduated from St. John’s College in Annapolis in 1796, and went on to have a big legal career in Washington, D.C. He ran a thriving private law practice, argued more than a hundred cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, and served as U.S. Attorney in Washington for eight years. A closer adviser to President Andrew Jackson, Key was an influential voice in shaping the major issues facing the Early Republic—including the No. 1 issue, the question of slavery.

A devoutly religious man, Key was adamantly against international slave trafficking. And he was well known for defending free blacks and slaves without charge in the Washington, D.C., courts. He also was a life-long slave owner from a large slave-owning family, and was a founding member in 1816, and strong proponent for the rest of his life, of the American Colonization Society.

That controversial group’s goal was to set up a colony in West Africa for free American blacks (not slaves). Key and the other ACS supporters—a group that included James Monroe, James Madison, John Marshall, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and many others–was reviled by abolitionists and by many free blacks as little more than a vehicle to rid the nation of African Americans.

What follows are ten little-known facts about Francis Scott Key, his family, and the Early American Republic:

  1. Key’s uncle, Philip Barton Key (his father’s only sibling) and his great uncle, Upton Scott, were Loyalists during the Revolutionary War. Philip Barton Key went so far as to join the British Army to fight the American rebellion. Key’s father, John Ross Key, on the other hand, served in the Continental Army and was present at the surrender at Yorktown. For his part, Frank Key was adamantly against the U.S. going to war with England in 1812. He called the war “a lump of wickedness.”
  1. Frank married Mary Tayloe Lloyd in 1802. Know as Polly, she came from an extremely prosperous Maryland family. Her father, Col. John Lloyd, owned the extensive Wye Plantation, along with hundreds of slaves, including the famed abolitionist Frederick Douglas, who was born there in 1818.
  1. Frank and Polly had eleven children. Tragically, three of their sons died while their parents were alive. Eight-year-old Edward Key drowned in the Potomac River near the Keys’ backyard in 1822; twenty-two-year old Daniel Murray Key was killed in a duel in 1836; and thirty-year-old John Ross Key died after a short illness in 1837.
  1. Roger B. Taney, the U.S. Chief Justice best known for issuing the infamous majority opinion in the 1857 Supreme Court Dred Scott case, was Francis Scott Key’s brother-in-law, having married his only sister Anne. The two lawyers were very close personal and professional friends and colleagues from, the time they met as young law students in Annapolis in the late 1790s to Key’s death of 1843.
  1. Francis Scott Key only spoke about writing “The Star-Spangled Banner” once in public, in an 1834 political speech. “I saw the flag of my country waving over a city—the strength and pride of my native state,” Key said. “Then, in that hour of deliverance and joyful triumph, my heart spoke; and ‘Does not such a country, and such defenders of their country, deserve a song?’ was its question. With it came an inspiration not to be resisted.”
Marc-Leepson-pic-tight

Author Marc Leepson

Journalist and historian Marc Leepson is the author of eight books. His most recent is What So Proudly We Hailed: Francis Scott Key a Life, which was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2014. It was the first biography of Key from a major publisher since 1937. His website is www.marcleepson.com

Click here to support Star Spangled Music Foundation by purchasing Marc’s book!

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A Spangled “Ode to the Fourth of July” (1826 Style)

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the United States, a Mrs. K.A. Ware did what many in the 19th-century did — she wrote a song by creating new lyrics to a beloved and well known tune. This cultural conversation in song is known as the broadside ballad tradition. Building on the patriotic associations of the tune “Anacreon in Heaven” (spurred by Francis Scott Key’s immediately popular and patriotic tune “The Star-Spangled Banner” which used and further popularized the tune), Ware chose to write new lyrics to the same melody. Her words celebrate George Washington and the other heroes of the nation’s founding, while threatening war yet again if the nation is threatened. Her conclusion calls for peace and predicts a bright future for the nation “Till earth shall to chaos her empire resign!” Coincidentally, two of those heroic founding fathers would pass away this very day—John Adams (the nation’s second president) and Thomas Jefferson (the nation’s third).

As part of our Poets & Patriots recording project, we present what is probably the world premiere video and recording of Ware’s song.

When through the dark clouds of political night,
Burst the glorious Sun of our fam’d Revolution!
Mid the blue arch of Heav’n, the seraph of light,
Unfurl’d the proud scroll of our bold Constitution!
While the Herald of Fame
Bore our Washington’s name!
Through regions of space, upon pinions of flame!
And ne’er shall one ray of his glory decline,
Till earth shall to chaos her empire resign!

As soared his bright form to the realms of the Just,
His Mantle descended to bless his successors
And his sword—though it sleeps in its scabbard of rust,
Is a symbol of dread to our haughty oppressors.
The fame of the sage,
Still illumines our age:
And forever shall glow o’er America’s page
For a Halo of glory around him will shine,
Till earth shall to chaos her empire resign!

The deeds of our heroes, their courage sublime,
Have long been the pride, and the theme of our story
And their triumphs shall mark the divisions of time,
And be hallow’d as Epochs of National Glory!
On this festival Day,
Our glad homage we’ll pay
To the God of the Pilgrims! who lighted their way;
And ne’er shall his flame on our altars decline,
Till earth shall to chaos her empire resign!

Though “Peace is our aim” yet our voice is for War!
Should our birthright be threaten’d with foreign invasion
And Columbia’s sons shall be proud of each scar,
Their breasts may sustain in defence of their Nation.
Though in peace with the world,
Our Standard is furl’d
And the demon of discord to darkness is hurl’d.
Yet ne’er shall one star of our union decline,
Till earth shall to chaos her empire resign!

Smile on lovely Peace! may thy soft balmy wing,
Spread its shadowy plumes o’er the Warrior’s seclusion
May thy olive entwine, where his bright laurels spring,
And thy mild spirit calm the rude battle’s confusion!
Oh! stay lovely guest
for the bowers of thy rest,
Are bright as the Eden our parents possess’d,
And ne’er may thy glory depart from our shrine,
Till earth shall to chaos her empire resign!

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Congratulations to SSMF Institute Alum Susan Ferguson

Employee of the Year certificate from the Camden, North Carolina Schools honoring Susan Ferguson.

Employee of the Year certificate from the Camden, North Carolina Schools honoring Susan Ferguson.

The Star Spangled Music Foundation is proud to cheer our Banner Moments Institute alumnus — Third Grade Language Arts and Social Studies teacher Susan Ferguson — whose extraordinary efforts to share the insights and knowledge she gained with us in Maryland with her students, colleagues, and indeed the whole Camden community in North Carolina, has resulted in her being named “Employee of the Year” for the Camden County Schools.

Below is the press release about the award citing the recognition read by Camden  Superintendent  Melvin Hawkins:

On June 13, 2014, Third Grade Teacher Susan Ferguson from Grandy Primary in Camden, North Carolina was awarded The Employee of the Year certificate for “valued and devoted service to the children of Camden County.”  This recognition is given to employees who have contributed to the community of Camden Schools in an outstanding way.

Students parade their life-size replica of the Star Spangled Banner garrison flag at a Camden football game in September 2014 to celebrate the Anthem's 200th birthday.

Students parade their life-size replica of the Star Spangled Banner garrison flag at a Camden football game in September 2014 to celebrate the Anthem’s 200th birthday.

Mrs. Ferguson, after spending a month of her own time in College Park, Maryland studying at the National Endowment for the Humanities Institute “Banner Moments,” enlisted the help of the art teacher and recreated a life sized replica of the Star-Spangled Banner flag in honor of the 200th anniversary of the National Anthem.  She engaged the students at the Primary school in a week long painting project.  She collaborated with the high school athletic and music department to parade the Banner onto the field at a football game, while the marching band played the National Anthem.

Susan Ferguson dressed as Mary Pickersgill, who created the oversize Fort McHenry Garrison Flag seen by Key that inspired his now famous lyric.

Susan Ferguson dressed as Mary Pickersgill, who created the oversize Fort McHenry Garrison Flag seen by Key that inspired his now famous lyric.

Not only that, but she created lesson plans for the entire primary school to help her fellow teachers and their students celebrate the 200th Birthday of the Anthem.  Finally in a school wide assembly,  she invited the high school band to perform patriotic music, enlisted a boy scout troupe to demonstrate proper flag procedures, collaborated with the music teacher to teach the students several ageless patriotic songs all while dressed in period costume as flag maker Mary Pickersgill.

For outstanding contributions to the educational community and for her efforts to engage the entire community in this important celebration the Camden School Board recognized Susan Ferguson as The Employee of the Year.

CONGRATULATIONS SUSAN!!!

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Music Day in St. Paul, Minnesota

kids-webDear Star Spangled Music Foundation:

School-webThank you so very much for your tremendous work on the bicentennial of “The Star Spangled Banner.”  Your website, music and videos, articles, ideas, logo, etc… and etc… were extremely beneficial as my fellow teachers and I planned lessons on the singing and significance of the anthem for our PreK-eighth grade students.  Our study culminated with the entire school and staff, in addition to several parents and grandparents, all dressed in red, white and blue, waving flags, sporting SSM Day logo stickers and singing at the front flag pole on September 14 and with afternoon patriotic popsicles.  Our students gained a new or renewed sense of patriotism and appreciation for our national anthem.  And many parents thanked us for the celebration–which wouldn’t have happened without all of your efforts.  So, Happy Star Spangled Day to you too and thanks!

Sincerely,
Ann M. Ponath, music teacher
Christ Lutheran School, No. St. Paul, MN

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Banner Moment #9: August 18, 1969—Hendrix Plays the Anthem at Woodstock

Banner Moments History Series (forward / back)

SSB_Hendrix_PosterBanner Moments History Series (forward / back)

Posted in Arrangements, Critical Patriotism, History, Jimi Hendrix, Mark Clague, Vietnam War, Woodstock | 3 Comments

A Celebration of Two Centuries of a Song — 4PM Live Stream

chorusstand0001-webTwo hundred years ago today, the “dawn’s early light” broke over Fort McHenry and illuminated a flag symbolizing resilience and courage. Two hundred years later, the song written by Francis Scott Key in praise of the fort’s defenders still waves over the nation, celebrating the commitment of American citizens to the day-to-day requirements of democracy.

Today at 4:00 p.m. (Eastern time), the American Music Institute at the University of Michigan presents “Poets & Patriots: The 200th Birthday of “The Star-Spangled Banner”—a recital of tuneful precedents, political parodies, and musical arrangements that tell the story of Francis Scott Key’s in American life. Featuring a superstar cast of singers from U-M’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance, the recital will be led by maestro Jerry Blackstone and narrated by musicologist Mark Clague. The recital will be streamed live on the Internet here, and will be archived there and eventually released in a polished video production on our Youtube channel.

The recital marks the gala opening of the U-M Library exhibit “Banner Moments: The National Anthem in American Life,” curated by Clague and librarian Jamie Vander Broek and designed by Stamps School of Art & Design student Grace Rother. The exhibit covers three rooms and features an original copy of the first sheet music imprint of “The Star-Spangled Banner” arranged by Thomas Carr. It is the most valuable sheet of printed sheet music in history—only about a dozen copies survive.

The concert will feature the first-ever SATB arrangement of “The Star-Spangled Banner” music (but with a temperance text) as well as a rare performance of other music by the anthem’s composer—John Stafford Smith. His award winning Glee of 1775 “Blest Pair of Sirens” will be presented. Also performed is an all-but unknown French translation and setting from the World War One era “L’Étandard Étoilé.”

The recital will end with a group performance of Key’s song around the U-M’s Diag flagpole followed by a singing of “Happy Birthday” to Key’s lyric and cupcakes provided by the U-M Library. Hope to see you there!

 

Posted in 200, American Music Institute, Arrangements, History, John Stafford Smith, Mark Clague, Music Choral, U-Michigan | Leave a comment