Francis Scott Key
“…like most Maryland celebrities he is now a vague figure, his life eclipsed by one spectacular deed.”(McCoy 2). Although Francis Scott Key is a prominent name in our country’s history, just as author Victor Weybright states, he’s “famous” for only one reason. This is, of course, being the author our country’s beloved national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner. But the truth is, he was a lot more, as a lawyer, a district attorney, a member of the American Colonization Society, and a war veteran Key has made a much greater contribution to the making of our country then he is given credit for. And while the adoration and respect he is given for being the maser mind behind the anthem is well deserved, Francis Scott Key was much more than an author of one successful poem. His literary work, his law career, and his overall active life in society make him an essential role of American history.
On August 1 1779 a literary legend was born, and was named Francis Scott Key after his grandfather (McCoy 7). He grew up on his family owned plantation, Terra Rubra (National Parks Service). When he was ten he was sent to grammar school and would eventually go on to receive a Bachelor of Arts degree from Saint John’s College and give the valedictorian speech at his graduation (McCoy 16). This was all before he decided to study law under his uncle. He got married to Mary Taylor Lloyd and they had 11 kids (Biography).
During his life Francis Scott Key was very involved in all different kinds of organizations. For example, he helped run the Lancaster Society which helped give a free education to families who couldn’t afford it (McCoy 60). As a result of his religious passions, he belonged to the American Bible Society too (McCoy 2). He was also very involved in a group known as the American Colonization Society. This organization helped move “free” blacks back to Africa because they believed Africans would never fit in our society and that they would be able to “fulfill their full potential” in Africa. Francis Scott Key wasn’t the only big name on this committee. James Monroe, Bushrod Washington (George Washington’s nephew), Andrew Jackson, Daniel Webster, and Key all led the movement. At the time, this was seen as a work of charity (McCoy 103-104).
Francis Scott seemed to have very strong but contradictory views. For one, he was a slave owner and continuously persecuted abolitionists while District Attorney. But, he also was quoted saying that slavery was “a bed of evil”, and continued his work with the American Colonization Society (Biography). He also had a complex view on politics. He was a Federalist most of his life but was strongly against what he called “Party Spirit”. This pretty much means that he was fine with having parties with different views but in the end the country needs to be a higher priority than the party and your reelection (McCoy 109).
Key was extremely religious and a member of the Episcopal Church. Throughout his...