Talk:Francis Scott Key

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Descendants of Key/Pauline de Rothschild[edit]

I have returned Pauline de Rothschild to the listing of Key's descendants, per the citations noted:

Pauline de Rothschild was Francis Scott Key's great-great-granddaughter. Her paternal grandmother, Alice Lloyd Key (b. 1855, Mrs Francis Hunter Potter Sr), was the youngest child of Ellen Swann and Key's son Philip Barton Key (1818-1859).

This descent is established through genealogical records provided to me by Pauline de Rothschild's family (I am writing a biography of her), as well by other genealogical sources, including the Daughters of the American Revolution, Maryland Historical Society, newspaper and magazines clippings from the late 1800s and early 1900s, et cetera. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mowens35 (talkcontribs) 16:13, 21 July 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The Francis Scott Key mansion[edit]

A story I have heard since childhood is that the Key mansion was dismantled by the US federal government and subsequently lost in the maze of red tape. The structure is supposed to be in a government warehouse. This story in our family predates the "loss" of the Arc of the Covenant in the Indiana Jones film.--wloveral 3 Nov. 09 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:06, 3 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The house was dismantled and the boards and bricks placed near Key Bridge when the National Park Service ceded the land to the D.C. government to build a ramp onto the Whitehurst Freeway. The idea was to reconstruct the house on the other side of the bridge (where Francis Scott Key Park is). It didn't happen. All the material disappeared. The story that it is in a warehouse is just that--a story. I recount what happened in my biography, What So Proudly We Hailed: Francis Scott Key, A Life. — Preceding unsigned comment added by EdgarBedden (talkcontribs) 19:08, 28 August 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Race riot of 1835 in Washington DC[edit]

NPR did a story on this on July 5, 2012. It seems Francis Scott Key was D.C.'s top law enforcement official at the time.

Given that there's only one source mentioned, that sounds like about a sentence's worth for the topic. See Anna_Thornton#Bowen_incident for a topic dealing with the incident (not well-sourced there, it seems) TEDickey (talk) 10:53, 5 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

source -[edit]

The given source does not contain the information (i.e., quantification by type of case) added in a recent edit. The source given is simply a list, from which an editor can synthesize a variety of stories. TEDickey (talk) 01:07, 15 October 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Children of Francis Scott Key[edit]

This Source says he had eleven children. This one lists seven of them. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:49, 24 November 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

List of all 11 children — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:53, 24 November 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I have now listed all 11 of Key's children in the infobox, with a footnote citing Leepson's biography of Key. Thank you,, for raising this matter. -- WikiPedant (talk) 21:36, 25 November 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thank you! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:32, 28 November 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]


A recent edit introduced recentism into the lede by referring to Key's use of Stafford's contemporary melody as an old English tune. That gives the unwary reader the sense that the melody dates back, say, to the 15th-16th centuries. Incidentally, the edit overlinks common terms TEDickey (talk) 11:49, 5 August 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

No evidence of US motto- Star Spangled Banner connection.[edit]

Beside the obvious similarity of wording, there is no evidence of a specific connection between the fourth stanza and the US motto. It seems completely certain to me that the Times article was based on an inclusionist version of the Wikipedia page for In God We Trust where this connection was made without providing evidence. In my view, it is only worth mentioning in the opening if there is a scholarly source for the claim. Right now all we have is what I see as a throw-away speculative statement from a non-expert that was most likely derived from another speculative statement that was borrowing the voice of Wikipedia to spread into the public. Geographyinitiative (talk) 20:57, 28 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@Geographyinitiative: Thanks for raising this topic. I believe you are talking about these edits, as well as subsequent ones regarding this sentence added to the lead in version 832855858 of 10:50, March 28, 2018:

The U.S. motto "In God We Trust" was adapted from a line in the fourth stanza of the "Star-Spangled Banner".

This addition to the lead summarized and relied upon the following sourced content in section #Religion:

The phrase "In God We Trust" was adapted from Key's "Star-Spangled Banner", the fourth stanza of which includes the phrase, "And this be our motto: 'In God is our Trust.'"[1]

including the reference from TIME.
In this edit you called this "speculation" but were reverted by User:Adavidb who pointed out that the source claimed that it was "adapted", not that it was "speculation". But you reverted back, claiming that "It has been speculated that U.S. motto "In God We Trust" was adapted...".
The problem I see here, is that we have a reliable source that makes the claim that the motto was adapted from Key's poem, and as far as the word "speculated" we have only your say-so and no source, that is to say, it is original research. Since original research is not allowed, I would ask that you self-revert, and restore Adavidb's version 832898787 of 15:54, March 28, 2018. You are welcome, of course, to come up with other reliable sources that contradict the one we have, in which case your wording might be apt. Mathglot (talk) 23:25, 28 March 2018 (UT
I don't accept the assertion that Time is a reliable source in this area. Time is a reliable source about 21st century events. The journalist has no special insight that wikipedia lacks and was likely borrowing the information from an uncited statement on the In God We Trust page. I vote for removal of the source or appropriate treatment of the reliability of the source, as I have done. Geographyinitiative (talk) 02:56, 29 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Quoting WP:RS (about reliable sources): "Whether a specific news story is reliable for a fact or statement should be examined on a case-by-case basis." I submit that one throw-away and non-central factoid in this story, written in 2016, is not reliable evidence for the claim that the people 1) who selected the US motto in 1956, 2) selected the US anthem in 1931 and 3) selected the inscription for coins in 1863 consciously believed there was any connection whatsoever between the US motto and the phrase from the almost unknown part of the US anthem. We need something much more solid than than cursory news story filler in a current events piece to believe this statement. I would delete the references to the US motto on this page, but for the time being I am afraid of getting banned.
When I originally encountered this 'factoid' on the In God We Trust page last month, I took an inclusion-istic style approach to the claim and put it in citation needed span brackets. After seeing this news article, I realized that making this claim without specific evidence leads journalists from the Times to believe unproven statements and write them into their articles. I personally believe there absolutely must be and is some kind of connection between the US motto and the US anthem, but I don't know what the nature of that relationship actually is: did Salmon Chase write anything about this in his diary? Did they consciously realize the potential connection between the anthem and the motto in 1931 or 1956? Are there any internal memos from the Skull & Bones mentioning the connection? Most importantly: are there any reliable secondary sources that tie the motto and the anthemn together? We are writing Wikipedia based on news story filler that was derived from Wikipedia. Geographyinitiative (talk) 04:43, 29 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
How about adding something like this: [better source needed] Geographyinitiative (talk) 05:08, 29 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Oh, absolutely you could add the {{better source}} template there. Because we have this talk section, adding a long "reason" isn't really necessary; just add a very brief reason with a pointer to this section: e.g., |reason=Reliability of the source is questioned; see Talk:Francis Scott Key#Motto.. (I've added an {{anchor}} template above so that a "Motto" fragment will work (try it: #Motto) and you don't have to type out the long section title name.)
I don't really accept the claim that TIME is not a reliable source, but that doesn't mean they never make mistakes; and your quotation from RS about the concept of reliability adhering to a story highlights that; i.e., the story could be false. Nevertheless, the term "speculate" isn't really correct to use about a TIME report in Wikipedia's voice either, unless of course another reliable source says that TIME's report is speculation. However, if we can't find other sources after a diligent search that corroborate TIME's report, then one thing we could do is attribute the statement specifically to TIME, rather than say it in Wikipedia's voice, i.e., something like this: "A report in TIME[18] said that..." and then what we're saying is, "TIME said 'X'", which is self-evidently true; not that "We (wikipedia) say 'X'", which is quite a different thing. If there's disagreement, then you could say, "TIME says X,[18] but most other reports say Y.[19][20][21] ". Mathglot (talk) 05:45, 29 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Geographyinitiative, And you don't need to worry about "being banned" (assume you meant blocked) just for deleting something once or twice; it would take a heck of a lot more than that. This is just a content dispute, and you're discussing it: that's the way it's supposed to happen. Mathglot (talk) 07:12, 30 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks for your help! Geographyinitiative (talk) 08:39, 30 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  1. ^ Begley, Sarah (January 13, 2016). "How 'In God We Trust' Got on the Currency in the First Place". Time. Retrieved February 24, 2018.

Quote from Key's letter[edit]

Interestingly enough, there's a quote out of context which has been disputed. This is the place to discuss, rather than by misleading change-comments in a revert. TEDickey (talk) 09:06, 23 September 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The relevant issue (noticed by another editor) is that the suggested sources and statement provided by yet another editor took Key's comment out of context, to say something different than is evident in the original text. There's probably a Wikipedia topic devoted to that sort of thing, but it's not useful in this topic, since reliable sources are "published sources with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy" (qualities lacking in those sources, at least). TEDickey (talk) 09:22, 23 September 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Non-neutral POV — sending blacks "back to" Africa[edit]

The text as it stands says the American Colonization Society was in favor of sending blacks "back to Africa".

This is a prejudiced, non-neutral way to state the ACS goals. Many blacks had been in the US for generations, had no interest in going to Africa, and frequently said they were no more African than the Americans were British. Sending blacks "back to Africa" — not to their ancestral homelands, but to an undeveloped, disease-infested area — was a primarily a way to get rid of them. For a reason the ACS was primarily a slaveowner's society - they wanted free blacks gone. There was a huge opposition to "colonization" proposals.

I changed "back to Africa" to "to Africa". This was immediately reverted by @Tedickey:, without a word of justification. I'd like to hear some other views. For an introduction, see the American Colonization Society article. deisenbe (talk) 17:56, 26 January 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The edit was overly wordy, did not provide clarification to the reader. By the way, your comment here is hostile, keep in mind WP:CIVIL TEDickey (talk) 18:04, 26 January 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • TEDickey ~ I don't see where Deisenbe comment was hostile. ~mitch~ (talk) 20:49, 20 June 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Re-reading it again, I don't see any other way to interpret the remarks. TEDickey (talk) 20:58, 20 June 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yea ~ sorry I kinda skipped over "immediately reverted by" ~ sorry my bad ); ~ Nice to meet you! ~regards ~ ~mitch~ (talk) 21:35, 20 June 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This Quotation is Likely Unverifiable; Pending Further Research?[edit]

However, in spite of his anti-slavery position, Key expressed white supremacist points of view. During the War of 1812, after seeing the Second Corps of the Colonial Marines—a British military corps composed of fugitive slaves from the U.S.—fight against American soldiers, Key said that blacks were "a distinct and inferior race of people, which experience proves to be the greatest evil that afflicts the community."[32][33]

This section is cited to 33 and 32that take the quotation from Snow-Storm in August by Jefferson Morley. This book is mentioned elsewhere in the ongoing talk and is the underlying source for a few pieces of information on Key's page. Unfortunately Jstor's reviewer Chris Myers Asch writes "an examination of the book's sources raises an unsettling question: Is this a history, or a book of historical fiction? The answer unfortunately, is that we do not know." Asch goes on to write that dates throughout the book are incorrect, and that contemporaneous/primary sources are attributed quotations from secondary sources without that first hand observation.

I think perhaps it is worth more research? But as written this quotation is likely unverifiable. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Drezken (talkcontribs) 18:31, 20 June 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Sure, it's unverifiable (because it's rooted in a deliberate misquotation), but several editors have ignored that aspect. TEDickey (talk) 19:02, 20 June 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I wrote Trial of Reuben Crandall, on which there are extensive contemporary sources, which I have read, and I have read Snow-Storm. On every point I checked, and I hope I checked everything on the topic, Morley has nothing that is contradicted by a contemporary source, and many obscure points that the documents support. His research was not superficial. Asch accuses him of making up quotations wholesale and I'm quite sure that's not true. The aspersion he casts on Lundy -- that he was for gradual rather than immediate emancipation -- is not supported by Garrison in his eulogy ( ). Garrison knew Lundy better than anybody. He repeatedly calls him "friend Lundy" in the 1831 Liberator (the only year I checked). Garrison was for immediatism, if his friend and collaborator weren't, this would have shone up somewhere in Garrison's voluminous writings, and it doesn't. The book is called "chillingly precise" in the Christian Science Monitor:
Review in Washington Post:
So I support him as a reliable source. (If interested in this period, you might enjoy reading Pennsylvania Hall (Philadelphia), which I also wrote.) deisenbe (talk) 00:12, 21 June 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

In the 3rd verse of the Star Spangled Banner, the phrase, "No refuge could save the hireling and slave From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave," refers only to slaves and hirelings. It does not refer to any specific race, nationality, or ethnicity.

Furthermore, in verse 4, the first phrase, "O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand Between their lov'd home and the war's desolation!" refers to freemen, not to whites, Caucasians, or Europeans.

While Key did keep slaves for much of his life, and evidences a personal attitude of superiority over people of African descent in general; the fact that he freed and paid his own slaves provides evidence of a gradual change in his attitude towards the practice, and a recognition of the humanity of Blacks and their right to all human rights. Publius the 1st (talk) 13:22, 6 July 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I have two things to propose for inclusion:
1. The recent book "Oh Say Can You Hear" is a biography of the SSB, and offers three possible interpretations of the third verse and the "slaves and hirelings" passage.
2. I went to and found Leepson's citation of an FSK obituary recounting that he was often called "the N---- lawyer" and would be happy to provide it if you think it would be a good visual. (talk) 15:55, 25 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Dubious reference to slavery[edit]

The third verse of the Star-Spangled Banner makes disparaging mention of black people and demonstrates Key's opinion of their seeking freedom at the time by escaping to fight with the British, who promised them freedom from American enslavement.

To be exceedingly generous, this is speculation at best. The "hireling and slave" mentioned in the third stanza obviously refer to the British forces, who were subjects of the British crown, as opposed to the Americans who were free from monarchy. This interpretation fits well with the opening of the 4th stanza:

O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand Between their loved homes and the war's desolation.

Moreover, despite Key's personal views on slavery, none of the sources cited contain any evidence that he meant to refer specifically to slaves fighting for the British in this instance. The British did not promise American slaves freedom in exchange for service in the War of 1812, this only occurred in the Revolutionary War. This is obviously the case because any slaves in America at the time would not have been owned by British subjects, therefore the British were in no position to offer them anything. It is true that the British formed an infantry unit out of former slaves, the Corps of Colonial Marines, but these were slaves who had escaped on their own, and were certainly not involved in the attack on Fort McHenry since the British landed no ground troops. It could be that Key, despite titling his poem "Defence of Fort M'Henry", actually meant to refer to the broader Battle of Baltimore in which the Colonial Marines did fight, but in this case there is no reason to assume Key meant to take a break in his description of the battle to single out a particular unit who numbered a few hundred at most out of the thousands of British troops involved. It is much more logical to assume that by describing the British altogether as hirelings and slaves, Key meant to imply that the British troops were soldiers of fortune motivated by greed or subjects of a cruel regime being forced to fight against their will. Goldstaupe (talk) 22:56, 21 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This appears to be original research. Do you have any content published by reliable sources to support this? The info needs to be verifiable to be included on Wikipedia. —ADavidB 03:09, 22 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
To clarify, I believe the passage quoted above should be removed, as it itself is unverifiable. I believe all of the information I provided to support my reasoning which goes beyond common knowledge is already available on the pages Battle of Baltimore and Corps of Colonial Marines. Goldstaupe (talk) 17:36, 24 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]