Star-Spangled Banner Telegram

Star-Spangled Banner Telegram/tiles/non-collection/c/c_013imgtile1.xml
Image courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration


In January 1930, the mayor of Baltimore sent this telegram to the House Judiciary Committee urging its support in naming the Star-Spangled Banner the country’s national anthem. Originally a poem penned by Maryland native Francis Scott Key, when paired with music it became a popular patriotic song played during the Civil War and World War I, and was recognized as the informal anthem of the U.S. military. But it wasn’t until Maryland Representative John Linthicum began actively promoting legislation to officially recognize the song that Congress moved to name a national anthem.

Linthicum introduced H.R. 14, An Act to Make the Star-Spangled Banner the National Anthem of the United States on April 15, 1929, but it wasn’t until almost a year later that the Judiciary Committee scheduled a hearing on the measure. In what must have been a lively event, two sopranos and the U.S. Navy Band performed the song at the hearing to illustrate how easy it was to sing, according to the song's supporters. Representative Linthicum presented 5 million signatures, endorsements sent by 150 organizations, and letters and telegrams from 25 governors in support of the song. Despite opposition to the song because of its difficult range and the violent nature of the lyrics, the bill passed the House in April 1930 and was signed into law by President Herbert Hoover on March 3, 1931.

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