The Star Spangled Banner and the War of 1812History we've chosen to ignore
Territorial expansion, and linkage of Native Americans with British on the western frontier were major causes of the declaration of war. Issues of "Manifest Destiny" and an expanding western frontier (then places like Ohio) were far more relevant to the average American setters than sea trade issues. And note that the first thing that Americans did was to attack the British by invading Canada with the aim of annexing Canadian territory. The British retaliated by alliances with Native Americans as well as by burning down Washington DC. The British, of course had a strong navy but less ability to resupply the western frontier. The Star Spangled Banner was written during the naval bombardment of Baltimore. See: http://harpers.org/archive/2014/09/washington-is-burning/2/
"The British understood very well that slavery was their enemy’s Achilles’ heel, and when Cockburn and his fleet returned to the Chesapeake in the spring of 1814 after wintering in Bermuda, he was determined to take full advantage. His orders read:
Let the landings you make be more for the protection of the desertion of the Black Population than with a view to any other advantage. . . . The great point to be attained is the cordial Support of the Black population. With them properly armed & backed with 20,000 British Troops, Mr. Madison will be hurled from his throne. ”
On May 29, horrified planters had their first look at the next stage of the British scheme. A raid on Pungoteague, on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, featured the Colonial Marines, a regiment of former slaves now armed and trained on Tangier Island, Cockburn’s base in the middle of the bay. The rags in which their owners clothed them had been replaced by bright red uniforms, and they were eager for battle, rapidly putting the defending militia to flight. “I was highly pleased with the conduct of the Colonial Marines,” reported the raid’s commander, “every Individual of which Evinced the greatest eagerness to come to Action with their former masters.””
So yes indeed, the lines below are exactly about slavery:
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave.
It is important to recognize that the ending of the War of 1812 left the naval issues unresolved. In that regard, the War of 1812 ended in failure. Why is it that Americans chose to bury this part of the historical record? Naval issues remained. But additionally, slavery continued. Genocidal attacks against Native Americans continued. Americans chose not to recognize or deal with these serious human rights issues. The US vaulted Andrew Jackson to the Presidency as a hero. Hopefully we can look back at the historical record with clearer eyes now.