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Everything you need to know about Baltimore’s Fort McHenry, site of Vice President Mike Pence’s RNC speech

Vice President Mike Pence’s speech to the Republican National Convention and President Donald J. Trump’s surprise appearance at Fort McHenry, in the Locust Point area of Baltimore, made it go viral. The historic fort’s name trended on Twitter and boasted increased searches on Google on the Thursday morning after the speech.

Given this newfound interest, it’s worth noting Fort McHenry’s central importance to decisive chapters in United States history.

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Fort McHenry is designated a National Monument and Historical Shrine by the National Park Service. According to the NPS, the masonry walls of Fort McHenry were built starting in 1794 and ending in 1803. Following the war of 1812, a second story was added as well as a new battery.

Although the fort held many roles from its construction through its present as a historical monument (it was designated as such in 1939), it is best known as the place where 1,000 U.S. soldiers resisted a British naval bombardment during the War of 1812. The site of the the American flag during the bombardment and the soldiers’ bravery inspired Francis Scott Key, then detained aboard a British ship in the harbor, to write “The Star Spangled Banner,” which became our national anthem.

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Later on, the fort served as a prison for Confederate soldiers during the American Civil War, a hospital for veterans returning from World War I and a National Park during the 1920s.

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