To the Editor:
As I write, it is the eve of Independence Day. America’s iconic national anthem, the “Star-Spangled Banner,” originally was penned as a poem on the morning of September 14, 1814 by Francis Scott Key.
Key was inspired to see America’s flag still waving, still standing over Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Md., after sustaining 25 hours of relentless British naval bombardment The stanza says: “And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.”
Key’s name is honored across the country on monuments, bridges, many public schools, a college auditorium, college halls, a U.S. Navy submarine, and even a minor league baseball team. His words from the Star-Spangled Banner also inspired our national motto, “In God we trust.”
There was a monument of Francis Scott Key at the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco that was recently torn down and vandalized. The anarchists who tore down Keys’ monument says he was a slave owner. Yes, like many others of his era, Key was a slave owner. But Key also had freed seven of his slaves in the 1830s; enforced a will that freed 400 slaves from the John Randolph of Roanoke estate; and was known to have publicly criticized slavery’s cruelties.
Patriotism is enamored in the first words of our Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union…”
Francis Scott Key was not a perfect person, nor was any of our founding fathers or presidents, nor am I or you.
We will celebrate and honor the good and learn from the mistakes. This is how you form a “more perfect Union.”
Last week, Tucker Carlson, a commentator from Fox news, revealed Key’s destroyed monument had “Kill Whitey” spray painted on it. A Google search showed no information of any local or federal investigation of this as a “hate crime.” Why is that?
As mob rule appears to be overtaking our country, New Hampshire’s Congressional leaders are silent. New Hampshire’s citizens deserve to know where they stand.
New Hampshire’s elected officials (Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Sen. Maggie Hassan, Rep. Annie Kuster and Rep. Chris Pappas) took an oath “to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic.” The “Live Free or Die” state did not send them to represent us by wearing four dunce hats: hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil, or think no evil.
We need to know where they stand on many issues and what they will do in this time of crisis of our country.
(The writer is a U.S. Air Force veteran)
We don’t know exactly what the aforementioned Democrats are up to right now. Perhaps they’re trying to remedy the four centuries of race-based injustice which Republicans are currently doing their damnedest to perpetuate.
Your defense of Key tickled a neuron. In scratching it, we retrieved a piece Jefferson Morley wrote for the Washington Post in 2005: “The ‘Snow Riot’—In 1835 Washington discovered Francis Scott Key, author of the national anthem, had a thing or two to learn about freedom.” A few brief excerpts:
“[T]he malign role of Francis Scott Key in the capital’s first convulsion of racial violence has not been properly recognized. This American icon stood at the intersection of the racial, political and social forces that stoked Washington’s unrest. …
“In 1835, Key was a leading citizen of the capital city. He was not only the author of the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner”…. Two years earlier, President Jackson had named him the city’s district attorney. Key was an able and honest man—yet also a menace. In the capital city’s moment of crisis and high emotion, the man who defined America as ‘the land of the free and the home of the brave’ proved to be a determined foe of freedom of speech and a smug advocate of white supremacy. …
“On a historical marker in Francis Scott Key Park in Georgetown, he is described as ‘active in anti-slavery causes.’ That is technically accurate but hardly the whole story. Key was an active leader of the American Colonization Society, a group popular among right-thinking members of the Capital elite, which, while repudiating slavery in principle, also sought to encourage Negroes to move to Africa. The city’s legally sanctioned slave trade did not stir Key to action. He was far more offended by the outside agitators from the North who sought to abolish it.…
“In Key’s prosecution of Crandall, it became clear that the district attorney believed Crandall was the real culprit” in the story of the recent Snow Riot. “…Crandall’s efforts to stoke the slaves’ desire for freedom in America, Key declared as the trial began in April 1836, was nothing less than a ‘base and demonical’ effort to incite slaves, free Negroes and others to ‘stir up against slave owners.’ Crandall, in Key’s view, was guilty of sedition and should pay a heavy price. …
“In final arguments, Key declared that U.S. v. Reuben Crandall was ‘one of the most important cases ever tried’ in the nation’s capital. …
“Key appealed to the all-white jury’s sense of supremacy.
“‘Are you willing, gentlemen, to abandon your country; to permit it to be taken from you, and occupied by the Abolitionist, according to whose taste it is to associate and amalgamate with the Negro?’ he said. ‘Or, gentlemen, on the other hand, are there laws in this community to defend you from the immediate Abolitionist, who would open upon you the floodgates of such extensive wickedness and mischief?’
“[Defense attorney] Bradley replied that Key’s case was based on a tissue of supposition and that punishing Reuben Crandall for sedition would set a dangerous precedent that would endanger every American’s constitutional rights.
“William Lloyd Garrison, the crusading editor of the anti-slavery newspaper the Liberator, hailed Crandall’s acquittal and scorned the prosecutor. Key, he wrote, ‘seems to have cherished deep malignity of purpose’ toward this ‘excellent but suffering man.’”
Crandall was acquitted, but had contracted tuberculosis in the city jail. He died in 1838.