How important was “The Star-Spangled Banner” when it became the National Anthem in 1931

July 4, 2012

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How important was “The Star-Spangled Banner” when it became the National Anthem in 1931

The Star-Spangled Banner

Dilemma X

Today, it might seem shocking what was not the major news story on March 4, 1931 or on March 5, 1931 and that was “The Star Spangled Banner”. Many American newspapers published articles announcing that the country now had an official National Anthem. But, these articles were not the main headliners, nor were they the secondary headliners. In many cases the announcements, that the United States now had an official national anthem, were published in small areas of the nations daily newspapers.

President Herbert Hoover signs a congressional act making “The Star Spangled Banner” the official national anthem of the United States in March 3, 1931.

On September 14, 1814, Francis Scott Key composed the lyrics to “The Star Spangled Banner” after witnessing the massive overnight British bombardment of Fort McHenry in Maryland during the War of 1812.

Francis Scott Key’s poem was sung to the tune of a well-known British drinking song, “To Anacreon in Heaven”.

During World War I the U.S. War department established a standard arrangement of the “The Star Spangled Banner” to be used by U.S. military bands.

In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson formally designated “The Star-Spangled Banner” to be played at official events. In March 1931, the U.S. Congress passed an act confirming President Wilson’s presidential order, and on March 3, 1931 President Hoover signed it into law.

It would be during World War II that would make “The Star Spangled Banner” even more popular with Americans.

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The Star-Spangled Banner 3rd

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Before there was a  national anthem there was a movement to adopt one
The Daily News-Ludington, Michigan
September 3, 1929

The Daily News Ludington MI Sept 3 1929
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The Day New London Connecticut
January 31, 1930

The Day New London Connecticut Jan 31 1930
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The New York Times


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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Saturday, March 7, 1931

Page 1 Front Page mentions nothing about the National Anthem
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Saturday March 7 1931 page 1

Page 8
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Saturday March 7 1931

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Saturday March 7 1931
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San Antonio Express


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The Wisconsin State Journal


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The Morning Herald (Hagerstown, MD)


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The Evening Independent (St.Petersburg, Forida)
Front page 1 (not mention of the new national anthem)
The Evening Independent March 5 1931

Page 2
The Evening Independent March 5 1931

The Evening Independent March 5 1931
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Both “Hail, Columbia”  and “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” were both used as official national songs for the United States before the “The Star Spangled Banner” became the official song.

Video: “Hail, Columbia” 

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Video: Official song for the Vice President of the United States of America

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British influence on the United States of America’s patriotic music

Video: “To Anacreon in Heaven” (British drinking song)

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Video: “The Star Spangled Banner” (U.S. National Anthem)

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Video: “God Save The Queen” (British National Anthem)

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Video: “My Country Tis Of Thee”

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Video: “Land of Hope and Glory”

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Video: “Pomp and Circumstance No. 1”

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The British song not part of American culture

Video: “Rule Britannia”

When Britain first, at Heaven’s command
Arose from out the azure main;
This was the charter of the land,
And guardian angels sang this strain:
“Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:
“Britons never shall be slaves.”
The nations, not so blest as thee,
Must, in their turns, to tyrants fall;
While thou shalt flourish great and free,
The dread and envy of them all.
“Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:
“Britons never shall be slaves.”
Still more majestic shalt thou rise,
More dreadful, from each foreign stroke;
As the loud blast that tears the skies,
Serves but to root thy native oak.
“Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:
“Britons never shall be slaves.”
Thee haughty tyrants ne’er shall tame:
All their attempts to bend thee down,
Will but arouse thy generous flame;
But work their woe, and thy renown.
“Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:
“Britons never shall be slaves.”
To thee belongs the rural reign;
Thy cities shall with commerce shine:
All thine shall be the subject main,
And every shore it circles thine.
“Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:
“Britons never shall be slaves.”
The Muses, still with freedom found,
Shall to thy happy coast repair;
Blest Isle! With matchless beauty crown’d,
And manly hearts to guard the fair.
“Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:
“Britons never shall be slaves.”

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American Facts

Americans with European ancestry

Even though the United States speaks English, the largest European ancestry comes from Germany and other Europeans outside of the British Isles.

A list of some European ethnic groups in America by U.S. Census 2010

German: 49,836,146
Irish: 35,751,133
English: 27,403,063
French: 9,326,180
Scottish: 5,821,321
Dutch: 4,950,041
Norwegian: 4,602,337
Swedish: 4,293,208
Scotch-Irish: 4,201,259
Russian: 3,072,756
Welsh: 1,922,914
Portuguese: 1,426,121
Ukrainian: 956,896
Austrian: 766,030
Finnish: 677,272
Belgian: 385,961
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U.S. Constitution
The U.S. Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787, by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It would be ratified by 11 states at conventions. It went into effect on March 4, 1789.

The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence is said to be the first declaration of independence made in the Thirteen Colonies during the American Revolution. Signed on May 20, 1775, at Charlotte, North Carolina.

Video: 1975 WSOC Radio Charlotte, NC Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence


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African Americans in the American War of Independence

PBS

While the Patriots were ultimately victorious in the American Revolution, choosing sides and deciding whether to fight in the war was far from an easy choice for American colonists. The great majority were neutral or Loyalist. For black people, what mattered most was freedom. As the Revolutionary War spread through every region, those in bondage sided with whichever army promised them personal liberty. The British actively recruited slaves belonging to Patriot masters and, consequently, more blacks fought for the Crown. An estimated 100,000 African Americans escaped, died or were killed during the American Revolution.

And I hereby further declare all indented servants, Negroes, or others (appertaining to Rebels) free, that are able and willing to bear arms, they joining His Majesty’s Troops, as soon as may be, for the more speedily reducing the Colony to a proper sense of their duty, to this Majesty’s crown and dignity.
— Lord Dunmore’s Proclamation

Many African Americans, like Agrippa Hull and Prince Hall, did side with the Patriot cause. 5,000 black men served in the Continental Army, and hundreds more served on the sea.

Had George Washington been less ambivalent, more blacks might have participated on the American Patriot side than with the Loyalists. When he took command of the Continental Army in 1775, Washington barred the further recruitment of black soldiers, despite the fact that they had fought side by side with their white counterparts at the battles of Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill.

The Governor of Virginia, whose royal title was Lord Dunmore, on the other hand, sought to disrupt the American cause by promising freedom to any slaves owned by Patriot masters who would join the Loyalist forces. (Runaway slaves belonging to Loyalists were returned to their masters.) Dunmore officially issued his proclamation in November, 1775, and within a month 300 black men had joined his Ethiopian regiment. Probably no more than 800 eventually succeeded in joining Dunmore’s regiment, but his proclamation inspired thousands of runaways to follow behind the British throughout the war.

By the winter of 1777-1778, the Continental Army had dwindled to 18,000 from disease and desertion. This, together with the active recruitment of enslaved blacks by the British, finally convinced Washington to approve plans for Rhode Island to raise a regiment of free blacks and enslaved Africans.

In November 1782, Britain and America signed a provisional treaty granting the former colonies their independence. As the British prepared for their final evacuation, the Americans demanded the return of American property, including runaway slaves, under the terms of the peace treaty. Sir Guy Carleton, the acting commander of British forces, refused to abandon black Loyalists to their fate as slaves. With thousands of apprehensive blacks seeking to document their service to the Crown, Brigadier General Samuel Birch, British commandant of the city of New York, created a list of claimants known as The Book of Negroes. Boston King and his wife, Violet, were among 3,000 to 4,000 African Americans Loyalists who boarded ships in New York bound for Nova Scotia, Jamaica, and Britain.

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Civil War

Before President Lincolon took office 7 states had declared their secession from the Union.

On December 24, 1860 South Carolina issued The Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union.

23 states remained part of the United States: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin. Nevada and West Virginia joned the United States when they became states.

Several Native American tribes supported the Confederacy and held African Americans as slaves, including Indian Territory (Oklahoma). 

More than 3 million men fought in the Civil War. Over 624,500 were killed in the war in the Union and Confederate sides.

African Americans constituted less than one percent of the northern population, yet by the war’s end made up ten percent of the Union Army. A total of 180,000 black men, more than 85% of those eligible, enlisted.
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Video: For Love of Liberty: The Story of America’s Black Patriots

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