Samuel Francis Smith

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Born: 21 October 1808

Died: 16 November 1895

Biography Samuel Francis Smith, (1808-1895), Baptist minister, journalist and author, is best known for having written the lyrics to "My Country, 'Tis of Thee, which he entitled America.

Samuel Francis Smith was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on October 21, 1808 and was educated at the Eliot School, Boston Latin School, Harvard College (now Harvard University), and Andover Theological Seminary.

Smith attended Harvard from 1825 to 1829, and was a classmate of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.. He did translations from various foreign languages into English and wrote magazine and newspaper articles to raise funds for his tuition. He received many honors on his graduation in 1829, and at first went into journalism before deciding to become a minister, which led to his beginning his studies at Andover.

Smith began his studies for the ministry in 1830 at Andover Theological Seminary in Andover and graduated in 1834.

Samuel Francis Smith wrote the lyrics to "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" in 1831, while a student at the Andover Theological Seminary in Andover, Massachusetts. His friend, Lowell Mason had asked him to translate the lyrics in some German school songbooks or to write new lyrics. One melody in particular caught his attention. The German lyrics were a German patriotic hymn of some sort. Instead of translating it, Smith decided to write an American patriotic hymn, so he sat down and in thirty minutes had written My Country, 'Tis of Thee, to go along with the melody. He had never heard the tune before and had no idea of its derivation or associations with the British national anthem, "God Save the King."

Smith gave Mason the lyrics he had written and the song was first performed in public on July 4, 1831, at a children's Independence Day celebration at Park Street Church in Boston. First publication of 'America" was in 1832.

The house Smith lived in is now a Phillips Academy dormitory called America House, or A-House for short. (This abbreviated entry is from Wikipedia - use link below for the full entry.)

The above is an excerpt from Wikipedia. For the full article, click here.

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