National Anthem

By | Mar 3, 2011

The Star-Spangled Banner is the only song to be officially called the National Anthem of the United States of America. There was not an official anthem before March 3, 1931 when Congress passed the resolution making it so. On November 3, 1929, nearly two years before the official declaration, Robert Ripley published a cartoon for his “Ripley’s Believe it or Not” series stating that “America has no National Anthem” bringing to the attention of all the fact.

Before that date there were a couple of songs that laid claim as being the unofficial anthem. One of these were Hail, Columbia. Hail, Columbia was composed by Philip Phile in 1789 for the inauguration of George Washington, titled “The President’s March”. In 1789 words were put to the March by Joseph Hopkinson. Even though it was not the official anthem, it was used as the unofficial one for most of the 19th century.

Another that has been an unofficial anthem is My Country, ‘Tis of Thee. This song lyrics was written by Samuel Francis Smith with its melody coming from the British national anthem, God Save the King or Queen. Smith wrote the lyrics in 1831 and by the turn of the 20th century was used by many as an unofficial anthem.

Some feel that the song America, the Beautiful should be made the National Anthem instead of The Star-Spangled Banner. Katherine Lee Bates wrote the poem that has turned into the song while on a trip to Pikes Peak in 1893. Music was written for her poem by Samuel Ward.

Another that could fall into the mix is the song God Bless America written by Irving Berlin in 1918 and made popular by Kate Smith in the 1930s and 40s.

Then again there is the song This Land is Your Land by Woody Guthrie. Guthrie wrote this song in response to Berlin’s God Bless America in 1940 since he felt that it was unrealistic.


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