August 1

Herman Melville

Herman Melville (born August 1, 1819) – U.S. novelist – Moby Dick

Read about Melville's publishing successes/failures, including Moby Dick, here

Geoffrey Sanborn describes Herman Melville's adventures traveling the South Seas in the 1830s

Francis Scott Key

Francis Scott Key (born August 1, 1779) – U.S. lawyer, author of lyrics to the national anthem “The Star Spangled Banner”


Read about the source of the U.S. national anthem,
Defence of Fort McHenry

In September 1814, Francis Scott Key, an attorney and DC insider, watched the American flag rise over Baltimore, Maryland’s Fort McHenry from a British ship in the harbor. Key had been negotiating the release of an American captive during the War of 1812 when the British attacked the fort. After twenty-five hours of heavy bombardment, Key was sure that, come dawn, the British flag would be flying over Baltimore. Upon seeing the American flag still aloft, he wrote, on the back of a letter, the first verse of what would eventually become the national anthem of the United States. Once he returned to the city, he drafted three more verses, completing what was then titled “Defence of Fort M‘Henry.” The words were put to the tune of a popular British song, “To Anacreon in Heaven.”

Listen to "Anacreon in Heaven," the melody that is the
U.S. "Star Spangled Banner"