Director of Public Affairs
Admission is free on Feb. 22 for George Washington’s birthday. Admission tickets will be distributed on-site upon arrival.
MOUNT VERNON, VA – George Washington’s Mount Vernon has partnered with the Maryland Historical Society to display Francis Scott Key’s original draft of the Star-Spangled Banner in the Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center in commemoration of the poem’s bicentennial. This special October-long exhibition of the manuscript will be surrounded by panels describing Mount Vernon at time the poem was written during the War of 1812.
A special day of activities focused on the manuscript and its connection to Mount Vernon will take place on Sunday, October 5. Learn more about the surprising connection between George Washington and the melody of our national anthem!
Sunday, October 5
11 a.m. & 2 p.m: A Musical Tribute Celebrating the Star-Spangled Banner. Early American music expert David Hildebrand performs authentic music of the War of 1812 in the Robert H. and Clarice Smith Auditorium. Hildebrand sings and plays upon period guitar, fretless banjo, and a variety of flutes. Join in sing-alongs like “The Battle of Baltimore,” and hear the real story about the birth of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
3 p.m: Star-Spangled Presentation. On the Bowling Green, join representatives from the Maryland Historical Society and Fort McHenry in unfurling a full-sized replica of the flag which inspired our National Anthem accompanied by fife and drums.
10 a.m & 3:30 p.m: Special Wreathlaying Ceremony at Washington’s Tomb. Listen to brief remarks about Washington’s legacy and its impact on saving Mount Vernon during the War of 1812. A performance of The Star-Spangled Banner will take place while the wreath is laid at the tomb of George Washington.
About the Star-Spangled Banner
On September 14, 1814, Francis Scott Key spent the night on board a ship at Fort McHenry, Maryland, watching as the British bombarded Baltimore. At dawn, he spied the still-waving American flag in the distance, signaling an unlikely victory. Inspired, he penned a poem, “Defense of Fort M’Henry,” which would later become America’s national anthem.
Although Key’s poem was written fifteen years after Washington’s death, the song itself is based on a popular tune that the General likely would have recognized. The melody, called “To Anacreon in Heaven,” or the “Anacreontic Song,” was first heard in London in 1776. Before Key set his famous poem to this familiar tune, it was commonly used in a song called “Adams and Liberty,” which offered a musical defense of John Adams. The song was also re-written in 1793 to carry lyrics supporting the French Revolution.
All activities are included in admission: $18/adult, $9/child, five and under free. Please visit MountVernon.org to plan your visit and purchase tickets.