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Legacies: Collecting America's History at the Smithsonian, by Steven Lubar and Kathleen M. Kendrick
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The Star-Spangled Banner, 1814
The Star-Spangled Banner, 1814

The Star-Spangled Banner is the flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the British attack on Baltimore in the War of 1812. Major Armistead, the commander of the fort, took the flag home with him after the battle, and for the next century he and his family were the flag's caretakers. They displayed it at patriotic events, cut small pieces from the flag to give as presents, and even sewed an A (presumably for Armistead) onto it. In 1907 Eben Appleton, Major Armistead's grandson, loaned the flag to the Smithsonian Institution (upper left) and donated it five years later.

When the Star-Spangled Banner was exhibited at the new Museum of History and Technology in 1964 (lower left), it was made into a central icon of the building. It was displayed as a flag, not as a relic of a flag.

See also: Flags, War of 1812, Popular Objects

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