take pride in many things. Houses. Hometowns. Home states.
Sometimes pride unites. Together mothers and fathers beam
with pride over their children’s accomplishments.
Colleagues cheer each other and celebrate when their
pride divides. High school friends choose different colleges
and root against each other for rival teams. Residents of
different states boast of better food, scenery, and sports.
pride can take on many forms and faces: parades, fireworks,
Olympic athletes, and military members. When a country goes
to war, however, a nation needs uniting the most. But
disagreement over a war’s necessity and the carnage of
battle can mark the clearest of dividing lines.
president of the
United States, James Madison experienced this problem. When Congress
declared war against
Englandin 1812, he told the American people that multiple
diplomatic discussions over the issues of impressment and
fair trade had failed. In order to survive as a country,
America needed to thrive economically.
Britain still refused to “yield to the claims of justice or
renounce the errors of a false pride.” War was the result.
The president soon saw that politics divided Americans into supporters and opponents of the first war since the
Madisonhad come to power because he had played an important role in
forging the U.S. Constitution, a major source of American
pride. His personal background was also worthy of respect.
Hailing from a prominent Virginia
farming family, he’d studied law at the college in
Princeton, New Jersey, where his mentor was a minister and the college’s
Scott Key Biography
he also came from a farming family, at age thirty-five
Francis Scott Key was much younger than the president in
1814 and took pride in his home state of
Maryland. Attending St. John’sCollege
Annapolis, he’d considered becoming a preacher before also finding
his calling in the law.
not been a supporter of Mr. Madison’s war, however. To one
of the president’s most vocal opponents, he later
complained about the “abominable war.” He also abhorred
the fact that the start of the war “was received with
public rejoicings” in
Baltimore, Maryland’s largest city.
hours on September 1, 1814, after hearing that the British
military had arrested one of his friends, Dr. William
Beanes, Key put aside his political differences and called
upon President Madison. Because the White House had been
burned, the president and his wife, Dolley, were staying at
Washington, DC townhome.
meeting with the president was productive. Agreeing that
Beanes should be released, Madison
authorized Key to go to
Baltimore to find John Skinner
the military’s prisoner of war negotiator. Together they
embarked on a special mission to negotiate a deal for Dr.
Beanes with British officers.
holding different views on the war, pride in their country
united Key and Madison that day.
Key headed to
Baltimore, along with thousands of others hailing from different
towns but proudly united in defeating the British and saving
independence in their wake. There the sight of the U.S. flag
flying over Fort McHenry after the battle of Fort of McHenry
on September 14, 1814, inspired Key to write the words that
became the national anthem.
more about how Key wrote The
Star-Spangled Banner and read America's