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w Francis Scott Key—
. A Portrait of a Patriot * ❖ BY ELMO SCOTT WATSON E HAS been described as “the forgot ten man who wrote the words that no body can remember, to the tune no body can sing, and hence became fam ous as the author of the National Anthem of the United States of Amer ica.” He was Francis Scott Key, the man who gave the name of “The Star Spangled Banner” to the American flag, the birthday of which we cele brate as Flag Day on June 14. The circumstances under which our national emblem was thus christened are familiar, no doubt, to most Americans. They also know the name of the man who did the christening. But it is doubtful if one out of a hundred could tell anything else about him—where he was born, what sort of man he grew up to be and what else happened to him after that high point in his career when he stood on the deck of a Brit ish ship and, looking toward bombarded Fort McHenry ‘"by the dawn’s early light,” saw “that our flag was still there.” If they want to learn more about him they can do no better than to get a copy of the book “Spangled Banner —The Story of Francis Scott Key,” written by Victor Weybright and pub lished recently by Farrar and Rinehart of New York. It is the first complete biography of this “forgotten man,” a full-length portrait of a pa triot who deserves better than the neglect that has been his lot. “Francis Scott Key, like Adam, came of the red earth,” says Weybright "He was born August 1, 1779, at Terra Rubra, his family’s country seat in the Maryland redlands.” And although he became a noted lawyer and asso ciated with some of the nation’s greatest in the National Capital, to the end of his days he re mained a son of the soil with a passionate love for the place of his birth. Key was also a true Son of the American Revolution. Before he was born, John Ross Key, his father, marched away to the siege of Boston as a lieutenant of one of the Maryland companies of expert riflemen whose coming gave such a thrill of joy to His Excellency, Gen. George Washington. After his birth the elder Key rode away to Virginia to fight with Lafay ette against Benedict Arnold and Lord Corn wallis. Curiously enough the man who was to influ ence Francis Scott Key's life most was not a Patriot but a Tory—his uncle, Philip Barton Key, who had been studying law in Philadel phia at the outbreak of the Revolution, joined the British army there and became an officer in a Maryland Loyalist regiment. So the Revo lution was a civil war for the Keys as it was for many another family. “Francis Scott Key was six when Uncle Philip Barton Key, the erstwhile Tory, forgiven by his family and pardoned by the government, came home from England. It was a gala day. Uncle Philip, whom he had never seen, the prodigal brother of his father, had already visited in southern Maryland and arranged to read law with Mr. Duvall (later a member of the Supreme court). He had studied in the Middle Temple in London and wanted only coaching in the new law of Maryland. Despite his English airs, his penchant for poetry, his romantic superiority, and his elegant tailoring. Uncle Philip was an exceedingly practical man . . He accepted John Ross Key's offer of a competent estate, moved to Leonardtown near Bushwood and by the time Francis Scott Key entered St. John’s at Annapolis Uncle Philip was a leader of the Maryland bar.” It may have been the influence of Uncle Philip with his penchant for poetry or it may have been an inheritance from an ancestor, who was a fifteenth century poet laureate of England, but in any case Francis Scott Key began writing verses as a boy and continued doing so all his life. At first he wrote this for the entertain ment of himself and of his sister, Ann Phoebe Charlton Key. When, as a youth, he began to fall in love he wooed the girl of the moment’ with verse. Certainly it was the Influence of Uncle Philip which determined that he should become a lawyer and which sent him to St. John’s col lege in Annapolis where he could be under the eye of the uncle who was already one of the leading attorneys of Maryland. “On the streets of Annapolis, he met and talked with such emi nent citizens as Charles Carroll of Carrollton and Samuel Chase, the Signer, already growing fat and red-faced and tempting the young bar risters of the town to call him Old Bacon Face.” After his graduation from St. John's, it was the influence of Uncle Philip which placed him in the office of Judge Jeremiah Townley Chase to read law. Studying in Judge Chase's office was another fledgling lawyer destined for fame —Roger Brooke Taney, recently graduated from Dickinson college at Carlisle, Pa. The two be came close friends and their relationship became even closer when Taney met Ann Key, fell in love with her and married her. Years later he was to become the Chief Justice Taney of the United States Supreme Court who handed down the historic Dred Scott decision. In the summers Key returned to Terra Rubra to spend his vacation and there in two succes sive years two significant events occurred. In 1797 he met fourteen-year-old Mary Tayloe Lloyd whom he married five years later. “In the summer of 1798, ... he heard for the first time a political song to the tune of ‘To Anacreon in Heaven,’ the melody that was to make him famous. It was ‘Adams and Liberty,’ cele brating President Adams’ firm notes to France and England, and it became one of the most popular songs ever sung in America. Its author, Robert Treat Paine, had written it for the fete of a Charitable Fire Society in Massachu setts. The words were rousing. The tune was novel. Even Jeffersonians sang it lustily.” After completing his studies in Annapolis, Key went to Frederick. Md., to begin the practise of law. There on February 22, 1800, he had a part in the memorial services, honoring George Wash ington who had died during the previous De cember. And this memorial service brings an other famous character into the story of Francis Scott Key. For “a mock bier was made and be hind it came sixteen young ladies in mourning representing the sixteen states in grief. “One of these girls was Barbara Hauer, who later married Caspar Frietchie. glove-maker, and during the Civil war inspired Whittier’s poem. She was three years older than Key. He knew her. and during his subsequent sojourn in Fred erick he encountered her many times. On the day back in 1791 that Washington had stopped at Terra Rubra, Barbara had served the Presi dent his coffee at a reception in Frederick and performed the office with such graciousness, using her own coffee service, that the president had presented her with a china bowL As the owner of that souvenir. Miss Barbara enjoyed a special distinction.” Key and Mary Tayloe Lloyd were married in 1802 and moved to Georgetown, Just outside of Washington. the new Capital, there to engage in the practice of law with his Uncle Philip. “As a lawyer, he developed Into an original pleader. Roqer BrooKe Taneij His voice, firm, sonorous, mellow, his remarkably distinct enunciation, his striking, erect, six-foot figure, were almost his undoing. His oratory and personal charm exceeded his logic He neg lected to pierce fallacies with reason. Instead, he resorted to humanitarian appeals. His coun tenance, calm and expressionless in repose, now betrayed his sentimentality. Like a tragic actor, when he threw his whole soul into a speech his face reflected how deeply he was moved ... A warm, sympathetic, human pleader, Key was impatient of tedious, pedantic dilly-dallying. He was rude only when interrupted. He accepted poor clients, even negroes, without fee. This he could well afford to do. From wealthy clients he and Philip Barton Key received fees of thou sands of dollars.” So Francis Scott Key became one of the out standing attorneys of his time—a fact which is all too little known by his fellow-Americans who think of him only as the author of their national anthem. With his uncle, who was one of the cousel for the defense, he had a minor part in the impeachment trial of Samuel Chase of the Supreme court, “the first great legal battle that rocked the federal government” Soon after this trial, which resulted in the acquittal of Chase, Philip Barton Key retired from the practice of law and turned the business over to his nephew. His first important case was the defense of Dr. Erich Bollman and Sam uel Swarthout who were implicated in Burr’s conspiracy, a case which was carried to the Su preme court and which resulted in their ac quittal. “This spectacular case, so soon after Francis Scott Key began to practice law alone, definitely established him as a leading barrister at the age of twenty-eight . . . His manner of speech, previously taken for granted, now be came a minor sensation. He was a celebrity. ... His law cases increased in number and im portance.” In the meantime, events were shaping up for the incident which was to bring him his greatest fame. The young nation had been forced to take decisive action against the Barbary pirates to protect its commerce. When the naval officers, who had subdued the corsairs, returned to Amer ica, they were much feted. For one of these festive dinners Key composed a song in honor of young Stephen Decatur and set It to the mu sic of “To Anacreon In Heaven.” Among other phrases in the song was a reference to “the star-spangled flag of our nation”—which, with the tune to which it was sung, was curiously prophetic of another song he was to write 10 years later. Although that song was a war song, its author was opposed to the conflict which produced it. That is, he opposed it until the British invaded his beloved Maryland. Then he joined a field artillery company that had been hastily organ ized in Georgetown, became a quartermaster (and a very inefficient one) and took part in the comic opera "battle” of Bladesburg. His prin cipal contribution there was, as was that of many another “gentleman officer,” to run around offering ill-timed advice to the distracted Gen eral Winder and contributing to the destruction of what little nnity of command there was. As a result of the defeat of the raw American troops at Bladensburg, Washington fell into the hands of the invaders who applied the torch to the Capitol and other buildings. After this work of destruction, the enemy started to capture Baltimore and took with them Base of the Memorial Keq Memorial at Fort McHennj as a prisoner a certain Dr. Beanes of Uppei Marlborough who, annoyed by the rowdy be havior of straggling British sailors and soldiers, had headed a body of citizens that arrested the roisterers and threw them into the county jail in that town. The doctor’s friends asked Key to accompany a Colonel Skinner, who was going under a flag of truce to the British, to secure the release of Beanes, who was held on board a British warship. Key and Skinner were suc cessful in their mission but the three men were kept on board the admiral’s frigate as the Brit ish fleet sailed to attack Fort McHenry, the principal defense of Baltimore. Before the at tack began they were placed on a small boat which was kept closely attached to the frigate. The rest of that story is too familiar to need repetition here —how Key watched the bombard ment of the fort through the night in an agony of suspense as to the outcome and how at last when morning came he saw the Stars and Stripes still floating over the fort —a sign that the attack had been unsuccessful Immediately he began to write a poem on the back of an old envelop (perhaps it was from John Randolph of Roanoke, for the two men had become great friends and regular correspondents after their first meeting at the impeachment trial of Judge Chase). After the unsuccessful attack the Brit ish fleet sailed away leaving the three men to proceed upstream to Baltimore in their small boat. Key hastened to the office of a newspaper, the Baltimore American, to have his poem printed. The only person left In the office (everyone else had gone to assist in the defense of the city from the Invaders) was a young lad who set the poem in type and printed It as a handbill. In side of an hour, so wrote Key’s friend, Roger Brooke Taney, long afterwards, it was being sung all over town by the citizens of Baltimore, mad with joy over their city's deliverance from the fear of capture by the enemy. Thus was “The Star Spangled Banner,” our national an them, born. In the minds of most Americans the story of Francis Scott Key ends at this point in his life. So it is the service of his biographer to show that his career after September, 1814, was not anti-climax, in fact, was even more distin guished than it nad been before. His reputation as a successful lawyer continued to grow. He became a close friend of President Andrew Jack son, “as much of an insider as any member of the kitchen cabinet . . . and could have had any appointment within reason.” But he asked the president for only one favor, a cabinet appoint ment for his friend and brother-in-law, Roger Brooke Taney. The result was that Taney be came attorney-general and “this activity on Key’s part paved the way for Taney which led in a few stormy years to the chief justiceship, which led eventually to the Dred Scott decision, the unconstitutionality of the Missouri Compro mise and the Civil War.” So Francis Scott Key was a history-maker as well as a national anthem writer. He was also a diplomat—as the emissary of Jackson he set tled the “Creek controversy which might have bathed Alabama in blood.” It was a dispute over Indian lands in Alabama In which the ques tions of states rights and nullification were in volvfh. He was a philanthropist and humani tarian. Although a slave owner, he hated the Institution of slavery and sought a solution of the problems which it brought to the nation by helping form the American Colonization society for settling freed slaves in Africa. He was an ardent churchman and did much to further the cause of the Episcopal church in this country. He became the father of eleven children and his family life is one of the most appealing aspects of his whole career. On January 11, 1843, Francis Scott Key died in the Baltimore home of his daughter, Elizabeth Phoebe Howard. He “had grown up with the republic. His contemporaries knew him not as a poet but as a conspicuous and able and some times bothersome liberal, a distressingly serious layman, and, most singular of all, an honest law yer. Amiab>e, mild, generous and virtuous, his colonization pleas and his free-school activities were accepted for what they were —the enter prises of a prosperous, if not wealthy, middle state man who carried into town life the simple idealism of a benign squire. Dynamic but es sentially unheroic, he was a useful citizen and on that meteoric journey when he wrote a song which stirs our spirits and pleases our ear he added more significance to his life than he ever anticipated. He, a tone-deaf album poet, achieved immortality in spite of himself. And. like most Maryland celebrities, he is now a vague figure his life eclipsed by one spectacular deed.” THE ELY MINER. ELY. MINN. C by Western Union HERE’S AMERICAN OF THE FUTURE As Depicted by Prominent Anthropologist Those of us who might be inter ested in science’s quest to deter mine the exact nature of the typical American so far ap his physical makeup is concerned, probably will find some small comfort in the theory of Professor Albert EL Jenks, a noted anthropologist of the University of Minnesota. The gist of Professor Jenks’ opinion is that whatever the number of con flicting conceptions might exist at the moment as to the physical iden tity of the American, the time is Qot too far distant when he will lave a definite and recognizable racial classification. The typical American, according to Professor Jenks, will not be a tall blond person, as some might have supposed. He will be only “fairly tall.” dark eyed, dark-haired and darker skinned than the pres ent average. This, he asserts, will be the ultimate outcome of the in terbreeding among the early and late arrivals on this continent. Upon the whole, if Professor Jenks’ the ory is well founded, the typical American will not be an unattrac tive person, assuming of course, that he incorporates a portion of the better physical qualities of each of the racial strains that make him. Man’s concern over the question of what he Is, as well as what he does, is not motivated solely by con siderations of vanity. Curiosity also plays its part. In seeking the Hel lene of the classicist and the Roman of the Etruscan line he finds them not in the Greek and Italian of today. He becomes giddy, striving to fol low the ancient medley of races that swarmed and intermingled on the Spanish peninsula. In striving to trace his family lineage he is dismayed by the multitude of his own ancestors, enough to populate a small city within a surprisingly few generations. In any event, and whatever we of America might eventually become, there is comfort in the thought that we shall be a definite something. Since we are a nation, there is lit tle reason why we should not also be a race; and it must be acknowl edged that there is some excellent material here. —Manchester (N. H.) Union. Woman Adventurer Dame Rachel Crowdy, the only woman member of the British royal commission on armaments, has had a busy and adventurous life. She was chief commandant of the V. A. D.’s in France during the war. and from 1919 to 1931 did valuable work for the League of Nations. She has been fired at by Chinese bandits, es caped unscratched from a serious motor accident in France, lectured every night for two months in a dif ferent town in the United States, and one of her hobbies is sailing small boats. George repairs his Disposition RCRHAP * fccFiLO MuE ^ AH? HE^ C^ APS ,1 £ m V —l ANOTHER CUSTOMER EAS* 6 VOOR faßto ^ AW, | | yyg-f h£n i VOU TO BE / -TELL HIM 1b Hf vou know voove V oh, au rkshtHTcurses^X GoTCOPPEE-NERUES /lioorr.' I THAT KNOCKS -SwntH TO ROSTOM Ip VOUtL JUST fMV PLANS POR 30 DAYS UKE QUIT NAG6W6 / FOR A LOOP/ THE DOCTOR SAID/ J AT ME / r-f MOW lILHAuE 50 OAVS UKVER SUR6-B&MG | /Geoftse CGRlfrWty ) Trie CAR. RI6HT 1 HAS CHAN66O/ £ * SWrCHEP OVER ! | CAM IATELV HE'S TH€ \l TO POSTUM HAV£ fT FOR MOST ACCOMMODATE) He'S f€CX umjjjim m —jß STAND UP AND TYPE How old Is the typewriter? It was stated the other day that March was the diamond jubilee of the typewriter, whose inventor, C. L. Scholes, signed a contract with the Remington firm, of Ilion, U. S. A., In March, 1873. The first completed typewriters, however, were not put on the market until a year later. But the centenary of the typewrit er might also be celebrated this year. A patent for a writing machine was taken out by a Frenchman. Xavier Progin, in 1833, and altogether this BEAT THE DRUMS HERE IT COMES I CRISP AND | I 1 r i CLAP A HAND THE FLAVOR’S GRAND Once you taste Grape-Nuts Flakes, < I you 11 cheer too! 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Name City State Fill in completely—print name and address This offer expires December 31, 1935 I CAM Tea VOU WHV, ! I I was a crude affair. It embodied the principle of the present type-bar ma chines, of which it can claim to be the original. Even the 1874 typewriters would look fierce enough to the modern typist. They had 4-foot-high cast iron stands, and looked rather like the old-fashioned sewing machines, complete with treadle. The latter had to be pressed down with the op erator’s foot to lift the carriage at the end of a line. And the typist had to stand while he was using the machine. —London Answers.