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EL Civics for ESL Students

National Anthem Lesson

EL Civics History and Government

Francis Scott Key
Francis Scott Key

A national anthem is a patriotic song that honors the history, customs, and struggles of a country.

The National Anthem of the United States is The Star Spangled Banner.

The lyrics to The Star Spangled Banner were written by Francis Scott Key in 1814.

Key was a lawyer, author, district attorney, and amateur poet.

He wrote the words during the War of 1812.

The War of 1812 was between the United States and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

Key wrote the words in response to seeing the bombing of American forces at Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore.

He wrote them in a poem called The Defense of Fort McHenry.

National Anthem
National Anthem

The Battle of Baltimore happened in Maryland.

The "star spangled banner" in the song refers to the American flag, which has stars.

The word "spangled" means twinkling and the word "banner" means flag.

The Star Spangled Banner was adopted in 1916 as the American National Anthem by an executive order from President Woodrow Wilson.

In 1934, it was adopted by a congressional resolution, which was signed by President Herbert Hoover.


1. The melody of The Star Spangled Banner is from an old British drinking song written by John Stafford Smith called To Anacreon in Heaven.

2. Some publications use a hyphen in the title: The Star-Spangled Banner.

3. The song is sung before professional baseball games.

4. Key started writing the song while he was detained on a British ship.

5. There are four verses to The Star Spangled Banner.

National Anthem Quiz

1. What is the national anthem of the United States?

2. Who wrote the lyrics to the American National Anthem?

3. When was The Star Spangled Banner adopted?

4. What does the word banner mean?

5. What does the word "spangled" mean?

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