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Francis Scott Key on trial - Salon.com - In the final two days of U.S. v. Reuben Crandall, on April 25 and 26, 1836, Washington’s district attorney, Francis Scott Key, and defense attorney Richard Coxe addressed the jurors for the last time. The courtroom in City Hall in Judiciary Square was thronged with spectators. Congressmen jockeyed for seats along with national newspaper correspondents. The crowds had come to see Key’s case against the abolitionist movement. Just as the slaveholders’ representatives on Capitol Hill were noisily seeking a “gag rule” to prevent debate over slavery on the floor of Congress, so did Key, the famous author of “The Star Spangled Banner,” seek to silence those who would agitate for freedom on the streets of Washington City. In the trial of New York doctor Reuben Crandall, he hoped to defeat the antislavery men in the court of public opinion. The abolitionist, in turn, hoped to discredit Key, sneering about his hometown, “Land of the Free …. Home of the Oppressed.”
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