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This should be a big year for the people of Upper Marlboro, Maryland. We have something very important to celebrate. Upper Marlboro’s very own Dr. William Beanes was the catalyst and the reason that we have “The Stars Spangled Banner” as our national anthem. August will be the 200th anniversary of the event.
I’m happy to see that there will be a commemoration of the event as part our Marlboro Day celebration on May 10th. Sometimes it is hard to believe that this town has been here that long. When I go down Marlboro Pike I am traveling on a road that was used by settlers, colonists, the Red Coats, and our own patriots.
Two hundred years ago the roads around Upper Marlboro were traveled by the British Army going to and from their attack on Washington. It was during the War of 1812. That’s right; most of the battles of the War of 1812 were fought in 1814. In fact, the famous Battle of New Orleans actually happened after the war was over. Sorry, I digressed again. The British had anchored their ships further south on the Chesapeake Bay and marched north to Washington.
The Maryland state legislature in Annapolis was understandably nervous about the British army being close. They decided to move all of their important business papers out of the state capitol and to store them in the homes of the legislators. Dr. William Beanes was the representative from Upper Marlboro and he stored some of these important papers in his house.
After the attack on Washington the British army returned south to their ships. By the way, the British didn’t burn the city. The British burnt the government buildings. The looters burned the city in the process of stealing anything that they could cart away. The British marched through Upper Marlboro and the citizens could only stand there frustrated and they march through.
Some of the stragglers decided to rest in Upper Marlboro. As luck would have it the soldiers decided to quarter themselves in Dr. Beanes’ home. Here they have moved the important papers out of Annapolis to keep them from the British and the British end up in a house where the important papers were stored. The soldiers took full advantage of the rest time, they probably were feeling rather invincible after taking Washington, so they filled themselves up with ale and became quite rowdy. Dr. Beanes had had enough. He rallied the citizenry and they arrested the soldiers to put them in jail.
Word got back to the general commanding the British forces and he was not at all amused. He turned his army around and marched back to Upper Marlboro. He had his soldiers released and he, in turn, arrested Dr. Beanes and the men that helped him and he marched them all south to his ships. When he got to his ships, he released all of the men but Dr. Beanes. If fully intended to make an example of the good doctor, which in those days meant, he would be hanged.
The British army got on their ships and sailed off to Baltimore with Dr. Beanes onboard. Tomorrow I will tell you how this event led to the writing of the “Stars Spangled Banner.”