What So Proudly We Hailed: Francis Scott Key, A Life [NOOK Book]

Overview


What So Proudly We Hailed is the first full-length biography of Francis Scott Key in more than 75 years. In this fascinating look at early America, historian Marc Leepson explores the life and legacy of Francis Scott Key. Standing alongside Betsy Ross, Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry, Paul Revere, and John Hancock in history, Key made his mark as an American icon by one single and unforgettable act, writing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Among other...
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What So Proudly We Hailed: Francis Scott Key, A Life

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Overview


What So Proudly We Hailed is the first full-length biography of Francis Scott Key in more than 75 years. In this fascinating look at early America, historian Marc Leepson explores the life and legacy of Francis Scott Key. Standing alongside Betsy Ross, Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry, Paul Revere, and John Hancock in history, Key made his mark as an American icon by one single and unforgettable act, writing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Among other things, Leepson reveals:
• How the young Washington lawyer found himself in Baltimore Harbor on the night of September 13-14, 2014
• The mysterious circumstances surrounding how the poem he wrote, first titled “The Defense of Ft. M’Henry,” morphed into the National Anthem
• Key’s role in forming the American Colonization Society, and his decades-long fervent support for that controversial endeavor that sent free blacks to Africa
• His adamant opposition to slave trafficking and his willingness to represent slaves and freed men and women for free in Washington’s courts
• Key’s role as a confidant of President Andrew Jackson and his work in Jackson’s “kitchen cabinet”
• Key’s controversial actions as U.S. Attorney during the first race riot in Washington, D.C., in 1835.
 Publishing to coincide with the 200th anniversary of “The Star Spangled Banner” in 2014, What So Proudly We Hailed reveals unexplored details of  the life of an American patriot whose legacy has been largely unknown until now. 


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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
03/24/2014
The man recalled only as the author of “The Star-Spangled Banner” here receives his first biography in over 75 years. It turns out, however, that Key was more than a mediocre poet and lyricist. He was broadly involved in much of the nation’s public life until his death in 1843. A noted Washington lawyer, founder of the American Colonization Society, partisan of Andrew Jackson, defender of Sam Houston, U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, and defender of slaves, he counted himself among the nation’s best-known civic figures of his time. He also knew most of the others in and around the nation’s capital. This workmanlike study lays out the lesser-known facts of Key’s life but what is mostly an un-nuanced factual account stumbles in two areas. Leepson, an experienced writer about Lafayette, Monticello, and even the American Flag, falls short of bringing Key and his era alive. But then Key himself didn’t leave much of the kind of evidence that would allow Leepson to paint a truly rich portrait. The result is a book that effectively lays out the life and career of a worthy and notable figure without adding much to our historical understanding. (June)
From the Publisher
"A concise, well-researched biography of a self-righteous, opinionated man who embodied the convictions and contradictions of his tumultuous times." —Kirkus

"Marc Leepson makes the story flow and offers an interesting snapshot of one of the best-known—and least-known—figures in American history."—Hank H. Cox, Washington Post, June 29, 2014

“We all know the name of the man who wrote our National Anthem, but we know little or nothing about the man himself, and as Marc Leepson shows us, there is a lot to know about Francis Scott Key – much of it surprising, and all of it engrossing. A wonderful and long-overdue biography, and worth the wait.” —Nelson DeMille, #1 New York Times Bestselling author of Night Fall

"As an opponent of war who would nonetheless write the most patriotic of all our national songs, Francis Scott Key is an American enigma. In What So Proudly We Hailed, Marc Leepson has done a first-rate job of capturing the contradictions, conflicts and courage that make Key such a fascinating figure." —Steve Vogel, author of Through the Perilous Fight

"For the 200th anniversary of Francis Scott Key’s inspired verses, Marc Leepson’s What So Proudly We Hailed tells the multifaceted story of the author of The Star-Spangled Banner with clarity, precision, and passion – a literary performance akin to a great soloist nailing the high notes in the land of the free and home of the brave." —Jon Kukla, author of Mr. Jefferson’s Women and A Wilderness So Immense: The Louisiana Purchase and the Destiny of America

"Marc Leepson provides us with a thoughtful, perceptive biography of one of the more elusive figures in American history, Francis Scott Key. Key, as Leepson amply demonstrates, was both a man of his times and a significant contributor to the professionalization of the law, one of the cornerstones of American Democracy.  Marc Leepson sings both his praise and exposes his faults." —Edward Papenfuse, Maryland State Archivist and Commissioner of Land Patents

Kirkus Reviews
2014-05-07
The political and moral views of the man who wrote "The Star-Spangled Banner."Francis Scott Key (1779-1843) was an influential lawyer, serving for eight years as a district attorney. As historian Leepson (Lafayette: Lessons in Leadership from the Idealist General, 2011, etc.) portrays him, Key was devoutly religious, politically conservative and ardently patriotic. He opposed the American invasion of Canada that began the War of 1812, calling the war "a lump of wickedness," but by September 1814, after witnessing bombs bursting, rockets hissing and cannonballs rumbling when the British attacked Baltimore, his patriotism overwhelmed him. Seeing the American flag flying after the British retreated, he penned the verses that became the nation's anthem. Days later, the poem was published in a Baltimore newspaper, indicating that it was to be sung "to the tune of ‘To Anacreon in Heaven,' " a popular English song well known in America. Key was also involved directly in the crucial issue of his time: slavery. A slaveholder himself, he defended in court both slaves seeking their freedom and owners refusing to release their human property. He was a founder and proselytizing member of the American Colonization Society, whose mission was to encourage emancipated slaves to settle in Africa. Key resented the abolitionist movement, believing that freed slaves posed a threat of unrest, and would foment rebellion against slaveholders. Besides his tireless work for the ACS, Key founded the American Bible Society and served as its vice president, and he was a supporter of the American Tract Society, which published and distributed Christian literature aimed to convert nonbelievers. Although Key was a "tepid Federalist who loathed partisan politics," he became an avid proponent of Andrew Jackson, sympathetic to his campaign against government corruption and his desire to limit federal intrusion into states' affairs.A concise, well-researched biography of a self-righteous, opinionated man who embodied the convictions and contradictions of his tumultuous times.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781137464316
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 6/24/2014
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 247,066
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author


Marc Leepson is the author of eight books, including Lafayette, Desperate Engagement, Saving Monticello, and Flag. Former staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, his work has appeared in Smithsonian, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, and USA Today among others. He has been interviewed on the Today show, MSNBC, CNBC, CNN, BBC’s Newshour, and the History Channel. He lives in Middleburg, Virginia.

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