As September of 1814 dawns, the War of 1812 isn't looking good for the United States. After burning Washington, D.C. to the ground, the British forces set their sights on Baltimore, Maryland. As the British fleet descends on the city, a young American lawyer named Francis Scott Key is on an official mission of parley to the British fleet to secure the release of a political prisoner. While on board the British ships, however, the fleet unleashes a powerful, 25 hour bombardment on Fort McHenry, the city's bastion of defense. Key, powerless, looks on at the bombardment. Caught up in the confusion of the battle, Key turns to writing a poem...a poem which is destined to become the National Anthem of the United States. Who was Francis Scott Key? How did he end up in Baltimore Harbor on this fall evening? And how did Key’s firsthand account of that battle become the most important poem in American History? This documentary short sets out to answer these questions, shot on location in Baltimore and Annapolis, Maryland and Washington, D.C. with the cooperation of the National Park Service, United States Naval Academy, St. John’s College, and the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.
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