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Francis Scott Key was an attorney and poet who wrote the lyrics to "The Star-Spangled Banner," the U.S. national anthem.
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Key was a slave owner himself, though he went on record as saying that the system of slavery was full of sin and "a bed of torture." He also helped establish the American Colonization Society, which advocated the transport of African Americans to Africa. Information on Key's relationship to race and his D.C. legal career can be found in the Jefferson Morley book Snow-Storm in August: Washington City, Francis Scott Key, and the Forgotten Race Riot of 1835.
After falling ill with pleurisy, Key died on January 11, 1843, in Baltimore, Maryland, at the age of 63. "The Star-Spangled Banner" continued to be held up as a U.S. musical symbol though also facing critiques, with the song being labeled by some as violent and boasting unwieldy lyrics. Decades later, in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson declared "The Star-Spangled Banner" should be played at official events. On March 3, 1931, President Herbert Hoover along with Congress had the song declared the U.S. national anthem.
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