The final resting place of Francis Scott Key is located in Mount Olivet Cemetery within walking distance of downtown Frederick. Just inside the front gate, stands an impressive monument dedicated on August 9th, 1898 to pay lasting tribute to the author of our country’s national anthem. The Francis Scott Memorial Foundation provides the maintenance for the monument and burial site of the man who penned The Star-Spangled Banner.Francis Scott Key was born in Frederick County on August 1, 1779 at his family’s plantation of Terra Rubra (now part of Carroll County). He studied law in Annapolis and began a legal practice in Frederick in 1801.
During the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key was summoned to gain the release of a physician captured by invading British forces in late summer, 1814. He traveled to Baltimore and began negotiations, however he would be detained aboard a British sloop during the naval bombardment of Fort McHenry in the Baltimore Harbor. The battle commenced in the early morning of September 13th and would last for 25 hours, all the while with Key as witness from his unique vantage point. When daylight came, he was astonished to see the American flag still flying atop Fort McHenry and recorded his thoughts on the back of an envelope. An amateur poet, Key would turn his impromptu scribbling into a masterful song. Originally titled “The Defence of Fort McHenry,” Key’s ode to the flag would be printed in several newspapers across the country and later put to music.
The poem-song was adopted as the national anthem of the United States, first by an executive order from Woodrow Wilson in 1916 and then by a Congressional resolution in 1931, signed by President Herbert Hoover. Another resolution by Congress some 18 years later is responsible for the fact that the flag has flown continuously over the Francis Scott Key Memorial since May 30th, 1949.