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By God’s Grace The Star Spangled Banner Yet Waves…

By God’s Grace The Star Spangled Banner Yet Waves…

From our earliest days, Americans have valued our flag. Sewn in love by Betsy Ross, this red, white and blue banner has represented the valor, unity and freedom won by our forefathers and maintained by those in every generation to follow. But our flag symbolizes even more; it reminds us of God’s providential hand in preserving, protecting and promoting our existence as a country. As George Washington once said, “The Hand of providence has been so conspicuous in [our history], that he must be worse than an infidel, that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations.” Our flag flies because God has graciously fought for us and has been our shield and defense. Without His hand, those who have watched eagerly through the darkness may not have seen our flag still waving at first light. Francis Scott Key, writer of our National Anthem, knew this all too well.

The Star Spangled Banner was written during the War of 1812. Although America had won its independence, the British continued to interfere in American sovereignty, independence and expansion. 4,000 battle-hardened troops were sent to squash the up-start Americans.

They marched on Washington, hoping that the destruction of America’s new capital city would demoralize the country and force its surrender. President Madison and his wife Dolly, fled, and the British set fire to the Capitol and the White House.

Suddenly, dark clouds began to swirl, and the sky filled with lightning and thunder. First a hurricane, and then a tornado ripped through Washington and headed straight toward the British lines. Buildings were blown down, trees were uprooted, cannons were thrown about. More British soldiers were wounded and killed during this storm than from all the firearms the American troops had mustered in defending their city. Rain fell in torrents for more than two hours, quenching the fires. The British Army fled. And the citizens of Washington eagerly gave God the credit.

However, though the battered British fled Washington, they didn’t give up! Instead, they attacked Fort McHenry in Baltimore. British General Robert Ross arrogantly vowed that he would either eat supper that night in conquered Baltimore, or Hell. God appears to have chosen the latter.

The day grew extremely hot and many of the British troops died from heat and exertion. Then, an American sniper killed General Ross. As the news of Ross’ death spread through the ranks, the remaining army fell into shambles and became no real threat to Baltimore.

The British navy continued the attack. On their way, they captured and imprisoned a prominent, elderly American physician, Dr. William Beanes. A lawyer named Francis Scott Key was sent to negotiate his release. Though the British agreed to this, they refused to immediately free either American because they had seen and heard too much. They were placed under guard until the battle was over.

The next day the British bombardment began. They unleashed as many as 2,800 bombs and rockets while safely stationed just beyond the reach of American artillery. Yet, of this formidable barrage, only one bomb made a direct hit on the powder storehouse. This storehouse stored over a quarter million pounds of powder and, had it blown, the entire fort would have been destroyed. Providentially, this shell failed to ignite.

Dr. Beanes and Mr. Key watched this hopeless battle all through the night. Would the American flag be lowered in surrender? The suspense was agonizing. Then, just before dawn, a sudden and mysterious silence fell. Peering anxiously into the darkness, Key wrote…

Oh, 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 thru the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?

And then … through the smoke and mist…Key saw it! The flag… it was still there…its stars and stripes still “gallantly streaming.” Though the British had predicted American surrender after only 20 minutes, the fort endured 25 hours of relentless bombardment! Amazingly, only four of the 1000 American soldiers were killed. Fort McHenry did not surrender! The British withdrew and the tide of the war was reversed. Three months later a final peace treaty was signed at this fort. America had secured her sovereign independence and the British would never return again!

The Americans recognized the providential hand of God. They knew that “No nation can be strong except in the strength of God, or safe except in His defense.” * On our country’s birthday, may we continue to have eyes that strain through the darkness to seek God’s providence in allowing our flag to fly, joining our voices to sing, not only the first verse of our anthem, but its last. While it begins with a patriotic focus on our flag, its end is a psalm of praise to the God who reigns above the nations, sitting on His holy throne. (Ps. 47:8)

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation,

Blest with victory 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!

* (Salmon P. Chase, Secretary of Treasury, 1861)

 Recommended Resources:

American History to 1865-CD set
by RJ Rushdoony, Chalcedon

The Providential History Festival is thankful to have the Chalcedon Foundation as a yearly sponsor of its fall festival. You can purchase Chalcedon products for large discounts at the annual fall festival.


Never Before in History
America’s Inspired Birth
by Gary Amos and Richard Gardiner
America’s Christian History
The Untold Story
by Gary DeMar, American Vision
The Mighty Works of God
A Child’s History of the United States of America
by Ruth J. Smith
Drums of War series. Stories for young readers surrounding the years of 1775-1776.
by Peter Reese Doyle