Tag Archives: Star Spangled Banner

National Anthem: Star Spangled Banner – Meaning of “hireling and slave”

This is put up again because misunderstanding of the National Anthem is reported almost daily until today. Fake news continues. Let’s do some analysis.

O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner, O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country, should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

=======

The lyrics were written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key about the Battle of Baltimore fought against the Brits’ Royal Navy in 1812. The Brits just wouldn’t let it go, and had to engage again, and so lost again, almost thirty years after the end of the Revolutionary War. The Royal Navy would enlist mercenaries, the “hirelings” mentioned in the third verse, and enslave Prisoners of War to fight for them as well, the “slaves” mentioned in the third verse.

Why do I insist on this having nothing whatsoever even remotely to do with black African slaves when Key himself was a slave owner who lived long before the American Civil War? Because of the purpose of the song and what it is describing, that is, a particular night of battle in the harbor of Baltimore against the Royal Navy in which hirelings and slaves were employed in the battle by the Royal Navy, surely other Brits or POW American military.

Even if a tiny percentage of these hirelings and slaves happened to be black Africans, possibly most recently from the United States, the mentions of those hirelings and slaves wouldn’t refer to any previous status of slavery, but only to the slavery imposed by the Royal Navy on any POWs. To win this battle in Baltimore, there would be no interest in going to, say, Mississippi, and killing hirelings and slaves. To hold that to be the meaning of the words is simply ridiculous.

8 Comments

Filed under Brat Lies Matter, Military, Patriotism, Politics