Seven Surprising Star-Spangled Facts

  1. Key had a father who fought in George Washington’s Continental Army, but an uncle who was a British loyalist.
  2. Key was deeply religious and had considered a career as a minister instead of a lawyer.
  3. Key and his wife Mary (aka. Polly) had 11 kids.
  4. Key inherited a family plantation as well as slaves. He also defended freed slaves in court and was among the founders of the American Colonization Society that worked to free slaves and send them to Africa.
  5. “The Star-Spangled Banner” was first played at a professional sporting event in 1862 for a baseball game in which a band had been hired to celebrate the opening of a new stadium.
  6. Psychedelic rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix performed the anthem in concert at least sixty times, not just at Woodstock.
  7. Key’s lyric has been translated into more than a dozen languages, including German, Spanish, Czech, Polish, Latin, French, Italian, Norwegian, Cherokee, Navajo, Japanese, Hebrew, Yiddish, and native Hawaiian.
  8. One Extra–Key wrote ten episcopal hymns and at least two other songs.