"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Friday, September 2, 2016

William Pechin

This 1812 portrait of William Pechin perhaps by his brother John Pechin hangs in the Maryland Historical Society Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.
"As Editor of the Baltimore American and commercial Daily Advertiser since 1802 William Pechin often took aim at British oppression in the pages of his newspaper. By January 23, 1812, with a war declaration close at hand, Pechin was ready to attack Great Britain on a new front, joining the Maryland militia. Throughout the War, Pechin maintained his publication, often providing first hand war correspondence, while still fighting alongside the city's militiamen. The British attack against Baltimore, briefly threatened Pechin's editorship.  A half page published on September 12, 1814 explained, 'As nearly all our workmen have marched to meet the enemy, we hope for the kind indulgence of our friends on so critical an emergency' Pechin resumed publication September 15th with an account of the defense of Baltimore." -- Maryland Historical Society
 Within weeks of the battle of Baltimore, Pechin's paper the Baltimore American & Commercial Daily Advertiser published the lyrics of a song called "Defence of Fort McHenry" to the tune of Anacreon in Heaven. 

The song was introduced by a preface, shared by contemporary broadsides, explaining the origin of song.

Fort McHenry

The annexed song was composed under the following circumstances—A gentleman had left Baltimore, in a flag of truce for the purpose of getting released from the British fleet, a friend of his who had been captured at Marlborough.—He went as far as the mouth of the Patuxent, and was not permitted to return lest the intended attack on Baltimore should be disclosed. He was therefore brought up the Bay to the mouth of the Patapsco, where the flag vessel was kept under the guns of a frigate, and he was compelled to witness the bombardment of Fort McHenry, which the Admiral had boasted that he would carry in a few hours, and that the city must fall. He watched the flag at the Fort through the whole day with an anxiety that can be better felt than described, until the night prevented him from seeing it. In the night he watched the Bomb Shells, and at early dawn his eye was again greeted by the proudly waving flag of his country.


O ! 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 through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watch'd, were so gallantly streaming?
And the Rockets' red glare, the Bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our Flag was still there;
O ! say, does that star-spangled Banner yet wave,
O'er the Land of the free, and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected new shines in the stream,
'Tis the star spangled banner, O ! long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country, shall leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps pollution
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
O'er the Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave.

O ! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their lov'd home, and the war's desolation,
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the Heav'n rescued land,
Praise the Power that hath made and preserv'd 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.
Notice that neither the name of Francis Scott Key nor the title "Star Spangled Banner" appeared in this early publication of what would become the National Anthem.

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