What So Proudly We Hailed (Hardcover)

Francis Scott Key, A Life

By Marc Leepson

St. Martin's Press, 9781137278289, 256pp.

Publication Date: June 24, 2014

List Price: 26.00*
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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.

About the Author

Marc Leepson has written for many publications, among them The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Smithsonian. He is the author of five books, including Saving Monticello, and lives in Middleburg, Virginia.

Praise For What So Proudly We Hailed: Francis Scott Key, A Life

“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