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Before Scott Turow, before John Grisham, there was Francis Scott Key. Key is remembered this past fourth of July as the poet and author of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” but few people know that he was also a lawyer of the first rank. By the time of the War of 1812, Key had a thriving law practice in Georgetown; after the war, he served as district attorney for the District of Columbia. The anthem was written as a poem by Key upon returning from a rescue mission to describe his relief upon seeing the American flag raised in victory over battle. When Key died in 1843, several eulogies to him were delivered in the Supreme Court, but none mentioned his authorship of those famous words.

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