The Star-Spangled Banner is the national anthem of the United States of America. The lyrics come from Defence of Fort McHenry, a poem written in 1814 by the 35-year-old amateur poet Francis Scott Key after he had witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry by Royal Navy ships in Chesapeake Bay during the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812.
The poem was set to the tune of a popular British drinking song, The Anacreontic Song or To Anacreon in Heaven, written by John Stafford Smith for the Anacreontic Society, a men's social club in London. The song, set to various lyrics, was already popular in the United States, but, after it was set to Key's poem and renamed The Star-Spangled Banner, it soon become a well-known American patriotic song. Although the song has four stanzas, only the first is commonly sung today, with the fourth stanza added on more formal occasions. With a range of one and a half octaves, it is known for being difficult to sing.
Before 1931, other songs served as the hymns of American officialdom. "Hail, Columbia" served this purpose at official functions for most of the 19th Century. "My Country, 'Tis of Thee", whose melody was derived from the British national anthem, also served as a de facto anthem. Following the War of 1812 and subsequent American wars, other songs would emerge to compete for popularity at public events, among them was The Star-Spangled Banner. The Star-Spangled Banner was recognized for official use by the Navy in 1889 and the President in 1916, and was made the national anthem by a congressional resolution on March 3, 1931 (46 Stat. 1508, codified at 36 U.S.C. § 301), which was signed by President Herbert Hoover.
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