Our Legacy of Leadership

The Society of the War of 1812 in Maryland, the second oldest patriotic lineage society in the United States, can trace its roots back to September of 1814 in Baltimore when civic leaders brought Baltimore Militia together in solidarity under imminent British attack. The British Navy and Army arrived in September and for three days the endless bombardment and infantry advances did not unseat the courageous stand of Baltimore. The City was left in awe and in gratitude as the invader finally withdrew from their attack on the town. Francis Scott Key was so inspired by the courage of these men that he composed his immortal lyrics which would be named “The Star-Spangled Banner”.

That group of men who manned the guns of Fort McHenry in September of 1814, gathered at Scwartzauer’s Tavern outside Fort McHenry on September 15, 1814 to form the Association of the Defenders of Baltimore. Later, the Association was expanded to include all men who had fought at Fort McHenry and the Battle of North Point and was officially chartered May 16, 1842. The Association of the Defenders of Baltimore in 1814 was needed to perpetuate the Star-Spangled legacy through the 19th century in the face of opposing obstacles which were threats to the existence of an annual remembrance of September 12th 1814. With new life, the September 12th annual celebration returned as part of the heart and soul of Baltimore–and even grew.

The long dreaded and inevitable passing of the original Old Defenders had been planned for. The descendants of the Old Defenders were to continue the leadership mission of their fathers, and to expand membership to any descendant of a soldier of the War of 1812 . The Association is now known as The Society of the War of 1812 in Maryland. It has been these descendants of the defenders who have lead the initiative to make the Star-Spangled Banner our national anthem and to make Defender’s Day, 12 September, a Maryland state holiday. Key’s lyrics brilliantly captured the spirit of the “heaven rescued land”. Leadership of the Society of the War of 1812 and its predecessor leadership have for over two centuries been faithful to the call of remembrance of the sacrifice and patriotism of our nation.