(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Francis Scott Key

“Society is unity in diversity”*…


Diversity Map


In less than one year, the 2020 census will record just how much more racially diverse the nation has become, continuing the “diversity explosion” that punctuated the results of the 2010 census. While less authoritative than the once-a-decade national headcount, recently released U.S. Census Bureau estimates for 2018 make plain that racial minority populations—especially Hispanic, Asian and black Americans—continue to expand, leaving fewer parts of the country untouched by diversity…

From Brookings, a pre-2020 census look at the wide dispersal of the nation’s Hispanic, Asian and black populations: Six maps that reveal America’s expanding diversity.

* George Herbert Mead


As we delight in difference, we might recall that it was on this date in 1814 that then 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet Francis Scott Key wrote “The Defense of Fort M’Henry,” a poem– which provided the lyrics for the U.S. national anthem–  in which he described the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships of the Royal Navy in Baltimore Harbor during the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812.  Key was inspired by the large U.S. flag, with 15 stars and 15 stripes, known as the Star-Spangled Banner, flying triumphantly above the fort during the U.S. victory.

Indeed, he wrote lyrics beyond those most of us have heard:  a pro-slavery, anti-abolitionist campaigner, Key wrote a (now mostly omitted) third stanza that promises that “No refuge could save the hireling and slave / From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave.”



Written by (Roughly) Daily

September 14, 2019 at 1:01 am

“When you put on a uniform, there are certain inhibitions that you accept”*…


What do Catholic school girls and Joseph Stalin have in common? They’ve worn a uniform to conserve their mental energy for a higher purpose than just fashion. Lately, this utopian ideal of dress has become trendy among busy and thrifty women in the rise of the work uniform. After all, sartorial sameness conveys gravitas in the office.

In theory, we should all be wearing uniforms. Fashion is one of the world’s nastiest polluters, second only to oil. The rich wear intricate clothing to peacock their wealth, depleting the lower classes of their innate power and self-esteem. High fashion favors taut, unrealistic figures, leaving the rest of us with emotional complexes about our bodies. Uniforms could alleviate many of these problems.

And yet, any attempt to standardize dress across an entire culture has failed…

What does it mean to all dress alike? “A Brief Cultural History of Uniforms.”

* Dwight D. Eisenhower


As we straighten our ties, we might spare a thought for Francis Scott Key; he died on this date in 1843. A lawyer, author, and amateur poet, he wrote the lyrics to the United States’ national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”  Indeed, he wrote lyrics beyond those most of us have heard:  a pro-slavery, anti-abolitionist campaigner, Key wrote a (now mostly omitted) third stanza that promises that “No refuge could save the hireling and slave / From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave.”



Written by (Roughly) Daily

January 11, 2017 at 1:01 am

“Celebrity is the chastisement of merit and the punishment of talent”*…


… Or not.  Consider this report in “The Musical Season of 1844,” by essayist and poet Heinrich Heine (whose verses became the lyrics of Lieder by such composers as Robert Schumann and Franz Schubert):

He is here, our Franz Liszt, the wandering knight of all possible orders (excepting that of the French cross of the Legion of Honor, which Louis Philippe will not give to any virtuoso); he is here, the Hohenzollern-Hechingen Court Councilor, the Doctor of Philosophy and of double quavers, or of all imaginable crotchets, the miraculous Doctor of Music, the again-arisen rat catcher of Hameln, the new Faust, who is always followed by a poodle in the form of Belloni, the ennobled and yet noble Franz Liszt! He is here, the modern Amphion, who by the sound of his chords set the stones for building the Cathedral of Cologne in motion so that they came together, as did those of the walls of Thebes! He is here, the modern Homer, whom all Germany, Hungary, and France, the three greatest countries, claim as their native child, while only seven small provincial towns contended for the singer of The Iliad! He is here—the Attila, the scourge of God for all the pianos of Erard, which tremble already at the news of his coming, and which now once more are convulsed, bleed, and wail under his hands, so that the Society for the Protection of Animals really ought to look after them! He is here, the mad, handsome, ugly, enigmatic, terrible, and often very childish, child of his time, the gigantic dwarf, the Orlando Furioso with the Hungarian Sword of Honor, the soundly well-today and ill-tomorrow Franz Liszt, whose magic power compels us, whose genius enchants us, the genial Jack Fool (Hans Narr), whose nonsense bewilders our own senses, and to whom we will in any caseshow the loyal service of making known the great furor which he is here exciting. We confirm candidly the fact of his immense success, but in what manner we interpret this fact according to our own private opinion, or whether we accord to, or withhold our private approbation from the distinguished virtuoso, will probably be to him a matter of the utmost indifference, seeing that our voice is only the voice of a single individual and our authority in the art of music is of no remarkable importance.


via Lapham Quarterly.

* Emily Dickinson


As we wax sardonic, we might spare a commemorative thought for “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which officially became the national anthem of the United States on this date in 1931.  The vocally-challenging favorite of sports fans across the nation, the SSB was written by Francis Scott Key in 1814 (on witnessing the British bombardment of Fort McHenry in Maryland). After circulating as a handbill, the patriotic lyrics were published in a Baltimore newspaper on September 20, 1814.  (Key has no real responsibility for the challenging choral character of the anthem: his words were later set to the tune of “To Anacreon in Heaven,” a popular English song.)

Throughout the 19th century, “The Star-Spangled Banner” was regarded as the national anthem by most branches of the U.S. armed forces, but it wasn’t until 1916, and the signing of an executive order by President Woodrow Wilson, that it was formally designated. Then in March 1931 Congress passed an act confirming Wilson’s presidential order, and on March 3 President Herbert Hoover signed it into law.

A 1814 broadside printing of the “Defence of Fort McHenry,” the Francis Scott Key poem that was later set to the tune of John Stafford Smith’s song, “To Anacreon in Heaven,” to become “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the national anthem of the United States.



Written by (Roughly) Daily

March 3, 2016 at 1:01 am

“Thou hast set all the borders of the earth…” but then humans marked them…

Fifty states, fifty welcome signs.

(“Thou hast set all the borders of the earth…”  Psalms 74:17)

As we gas up and hit the road to collect ’em all, we might recall that it was on this date in 1777 that the Marine Committee of the Second Continental Congress passed the Flag Resolution– and the Stars and Stripes was adopted as the flag of the United States of America for maritime purposes.  While Congress reserved the right to adopt a different design for the nation’s ensign, it never did; rather it just added stars to the original thirteen for each new state in the Union.

The resolution specified “that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation”– but it did not specify the layout of the stars.  Consequently there were several early versions, for instance:

The “Betsy Ross” flag

The Bennington flag

In 1795, the number of stars and stripes was increased to 15 (reflecting the entry of Kentucky and Vermont).  It was about this flag the Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner”– and the dye was cast.

The “Anthem” flag

Happy Flag Day!

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