Francis Scott Key, author of "The Star-Spangled Banner," did not write it during the American Revolution -- a common misconception. He penned it more than 30 years later during the War of 1812.

The War Of 1812

The young United States went to war with Great Britain in 1812. The conflict lasted until the Treaty of Ghent was signed in February 1815. It started for several reasons, including that Great Britain regularly bullied U.S. trade ships and tried to limit American expansion. By the end of the war, some of the original reasons for the conflict -- like trade restrictions -- were left unresolved. Nonetheless, Americans gained a renewed sense of patriotism as they ousted the British military forces and secured their position as an independent power.

Key Pens An Anthem

Francis Scott Key was a lawyer who lived in Georgetown. In the summer of 1812, he was asked to negotiate the release of an American doctor from the British naval fleet, which was stationed in Chesapeake Bay. While he was with the fleet, he watched helplessly as the British bombarded Fort McHenry on the night of September 13. He saw an American flag still flying at the fort in the morning, which inspired him to write the famous poem, originally published as a handbill called "Defense of Fort M'Henry." It grew popular quickly and was set to music. People called it "The Star-Spangled Banner" based on that key line in the lyrics. The U.S. officially adopted it as its national anthem in 1931.