HIS REMARKABLE LIFE AFTER THE SONG
You heard the story so many times growing up, you can recite it by memory. How Francis Scott Key was detained on a boat by the British as they attacked Fort McHenry outside Baltimore. How he couldn’t tell during the dark night whether the Americans inside the fort had given up. How when dawn revealed the American flag still flying, he was so inspired he wrote a poem whose words became “The Star Spangled Banner,” our national anthem.
And it’s all true. But then, as soon as Key’s poem was published, he vanished from history as abruptly as he appeared. Which is a shame, according to Key scholar and filmmaker Philip Marshall. “Americans need to know that Key made a huge contribution to the American story, that he was also flawed and a real person just like anyone else.” Continue reading
HOW ONE BLAST CHANGED HISTORY
Of all the forgotten tales I bring to life in this column, this may be the most obscure. You must dig mighty deep in the history books to find it. Forgotten today, it played a key role in determining which nation would control what’s now the southeastern United States.
And just one cannon shot settled it.
It all started during the tangled international knot that was the War of 1812. While we were battling Britain, Britain was also battling pesky Napoleon on the Continent. The Brits needed all the men they could get for their military. So in 1814 they revived the Corps of Colonial Marines. Continue reading
How do you express your appreciation to the President of the United States? Sending a positive letter is nice. A card or telegram works, too. But 214 years ago, folks in one town devised a unique gift … which turned out to carry malodorous consequences. And it inspired an even bigger, even smellier presidential gift 34 years later, which went on to serve as the inspiration for two episodes of a popular 1990s TV series. That’s a lot of legacy from a single token of appreciation. And here’s how it all started. Continue reading