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During the Battle of Baltimore, fought between British and American forces during the War of 1812, American lawyer Francis Scott Key witnessed the British shelling of Baltimore’s Fort McHenry and was inspired to write the poem “Defence of Fort McHenry.”

These words were set to an existing melody by John Stafford Smith, “To Anacreon in Heaven.” The resulting song, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” became the American national anthem on March 3, 1931.