It is well known that Francis Scott Key is the author of the famous words “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” He wrote those words in 1814 and, ever since 1931, they have been sung as the national anthem of the United States.
What is far less known are his views on race.
In his career as lawyer and public servant, Key spoke publicly of Africans in America as “a distinct and inferior race of people, which all experience proves to be the greatest evil that afflicts a community.”
He saw them as a shiftless and untrustworthy population — a nuisance to white people.
Key believed the solution to the slavery problem was to free the enslaved Africans and get rid of them by helping them colonize Africa. He worked on behalf of this racial dream for more than 20 years. He was, in the words of a friend, a distressingly serious man.
Key had become famous almost by accident. He wrote the “Star Spangled Banner” in September 1814 and it became immediately popular.
Amazingly, the song was the product of a humiliation. Francis Scott Key was a veteran of what some dubbed “the Bladensburg Races,” the total collapse of American forces during the British invasion of Washington in August 1814.
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