O Say Can You See



By Mark Swarbrick

The Left Hates America

In Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, on June 19, 2020, leftist rioters toppled the statue of Francis Scot Key, the man who penned our national anthem. Why would they do this? Because they hate him, and they hate America. They are trying to rewrite history and say we were not founded as a Christian nation but that our founders were all wicked slaveholders.

As part of this cacophony of lies, they claim that our national anthem has a line in it that promotes slavery. In one of the verses is the phrase, “No refuge could save the hireling and slave.” These woke children who know nothing of history are trying to say the War of 1812 was fought to keep our slaves. But, of course, it wasn’t. That war was against England, who was once again trying to dominate us.

This line in our national anthem is not referring to America’s enslavement of Africans (which we fought a bloody civil war to end). The lyrics, in their entirety, in our national anthem are about defeating the British. The War of 1812 (which our anthem is about) had nothing to do with American slavery. England was certainly not fighting America to end slavery. England did not end its own practice of slavery until 1833, twenty-one years after the War of 1812. Thus it makes no sense to imagine these words were referring to us fighting to keep our slaves.

The Truth of the Matter

What does that line refer to? Here it is in context:

“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…”

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During the War of 1812, the Royal Navy had a practice of enlisting mercenaries who they paid to fight against America. These are the “hirelings” mentioned in the third verse. Britain also enslaved prisoners of war to fight for them, and these are the “slaves” mentioned in the same line. The song is saying that these hirelings and slaves, fighting for Britain, would find no refuge and would be defeated, going down to the “gloom of the grave.”

For it to refer to American slaves in the South would mean that America was singing that their own slaves would die. Why would anyone wish that? Even a pro-slavery plantation owner would not want his slaves to die. The idea of enslaved Black Americans being referenced is foreign to the context of the times and the entire literary context of the lyrics.

Not long after this hymn was written, northern animosity toward slavery intensified, leading in a few short decades to our great Civil War (1861), where half a million men died in the fight to end slavery.

Francis Scott Key, the author of our anthem, was an early and ardent opponent of slave trafficking. Although Key inherited slaves, he treated them humanely. He wanted them freed, but that was problematic, as a freed slave often could not find work at that time. However, as opportunity arose for them to provide for themselves, he did free slaves frequently during his lifetime, and he did this when it was practical for those enslaved. Not all slaves wanted to be freed, for some fared better working as domestic servants than they would if free. Francis Scot Key, an attorney, always provided free legal advice to impoverished free blacks and slaves in Washington.

The Rev. John T. Brooke wrote of Key:

“If ever man was a true friend to the African race, that man was Francis Scott Key. Throughout his own region of the country, he was proverbially the colored man’s friend. He was their standing gratuitous advocate in courts of justice, pressing their rights to the extent of the law, and ready to brave odium or even personal danger in their behalf.”

So you see, it would be ludicrous to imagine that Francis Scott Key would have penned the idea that our slaves should find “no refuge” and go down to the “gloom of the grave.”

In America today, the leftists are trying to rewrite our history and say that America was founded upon wickedness, not Christian morals. They cooked up this nonsense about our anthem as part of this evil campaign. God will judge them for their lies. “O say can you see…” begins our national anthem. Unfortunately so many liberal leftists cannot see. They are blinded by their own delusions.


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