If the U.S. House of Representatives has its way, a $5 gold piece and a silver dollar would be issued in 2012, commemorating the 198th anniversary of the writing of the National Anthem – free verse that was then, as now, sung to the tune of an old British beer ballad, “To Anacreon in Heaven.”
Written in 1814 at harbor side as the British were pounding Baltimore’s Fort McHenry during a 25-hour bombardment with rockets and cannons in an attempt to capture the position, author Francis Scott Key was being held from concluding a truce mission to secure the release of Dr. William Beanes, who had been captured after the British burned Washington, D.C.
On the morning of Sept. 14, 1814, after the bombardment, Key peered through the clearing smoke to see a 42-foot by 30-foot American flag flying proudly atop the fort and wrote what is today known as “The Star Spangled Banner,” The flag is now in the Smithsonian Institution.
The War of 1812 with Great Britain has confused students of history for generations. It began in 1812, the Treaty of Ghent (1814) brought hostilities to an end, and after the war was over but before that news reached American shores, Gen. Andrew Jackson won an overwhelming victory at the Battle of New Orleans (1815).
Much of Washington, D.C., including the White House and the Capitol were burned during the war after the Americans lost the Battle of Bladensburg Aug. 24, 1814.
Two coins in H.R. 2097 contain the usual surcharges, $35 for the gold coin and $10 for the silver dollar, will go to the 1812 War Bicentennial Commission, authorized by Congress in 2007. No more than 100,000 gold coins and 500,000 silver dollars may be minted.
Rep. C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger, D-Md., introduced the bill as the “Star-Spangled Banner and War of 1812 Bicentennial Commemorative Coin Act.”
It passed the House Sept. 9 on a recorded vote. Only Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, voted against it. He has a long tradition of opposing non-circulating, collector-only commemorative coin bills, even though at one time he was in a business relationship with California coin dealer, the late Burton S. Blumert. He typically does not oppose circulating commemoratives.
From here, the bill goes to the Senate where, if passed in identical form, would go to President Obama for signature into law.