Read What So Proudly We Hailed: Francis Scott Key, A Life by Marc Leepson Online


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 singleWhat 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....

Title : What So Proudly We Hailed: Francis Scott Key, A Life
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781137278289
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 256 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

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

  • Callie
    2019-02-26 08:16

    I finally finished! It's not the book's fault; I just haven't had time to read much lately.I really did like this book, except for a couple of minor issues... It was the first biography I'd ever read on Francis Scott Key's life, and from what I understand by reading other reviews, one of the most comprehensive in decades. Most people know him simply as "that guy who wrote the Star Spangled Banner," but he had a very accomplished life, apart from the events of the battle of Baltimore. Key was in all respects a very pious, morally upright, intellectual man, and like most great historical figures, also quite complicated.The issues that I had weren't anything to do with the content of the book, but more about how it's presented. Personally, I would have appreciated a more chronological presentation of the information, not just a topical one. The chapters are topical, and the information within them is then chronological... Going from one chapter to the next, sometimes skips around, and creates a more sort of disjointed reading experience. The information doesn't really flow as I would hope it does -- I'm reading the "story" of someone's life, and while some skipping around is to be expected, I felt this book did it a little too much. Finally, while much of the book is quite descriptive, the end of the book seemed very rushed -- it's almost as if Mr. Leepson were running out of room, but there was still more information that he had to get in, so he did it as quickly as possible... If that's the case, he could have just made it a little longer; I wouldn't have minded.All in all, a very enjoyable book.

  • Carla
    2019-03-10 05:19

    *****This is A First Reads, Thank You Goodreads*****A well researched biography of Francis Scott Key. The author touches on Key's life and accomplishments. Key's life was complicated in some ways, and yet can be summed up as religious, patriotic, and conservative. One of the first lawyers to provide free legal services to to enslaved and belonged to American Colonization Society, he also owned slaves. He belonged to the American Bible Society, helped begin the Lancaster Society for the Christian system of education. Key in an earlier life decided not to join the priesthood and to go into law, yet the the love of religion and God was forever present in his life til his death.The information of Dr Beanes and the dangerous assignment that lead Key to write The Star Spangled Banner and it's rather immediate publication is visited in the book. Also included briefly is the poet Key and that interesting fact that he was tone deaf and the Star Spangled Banner was put to a song that was being sung in pubs, "To High Anacreon in Heaven".The book jumps a bit and filled with facts and dates and can be a bit tedious at times to get through, some interesting things that you, the reader, might have noted will have gone by the wayside, for the author felt it more important to tell the tale of Key, slaves, and the roles they played in each other's lives, which makes you miss the whole picture of the man him himself - although I am glad I got a glimpse.

  • Frank Richardson
    2019-03-12 06:16

    Wow!! What a good book. The author actually spends very little of the book discussing the Star Bangld Banner. He went out to a British ship under a flag of truce in Baltimore Harbor to negotiate the release of a prisoner. The British commander said he would release the prisoner after the battle of Baltimore harbor and he then advised Key and his two colleagues that they were not free to leave because he was afraid they would give information to the American so he detained them until the battle was over and that is when our national anthem was written. Oh and some other things I did not know; Roger Taney (pronounced Taw-ney) was Key's brother in law and confident. Taney was later appointed by President Jackson to be the chief judge of the U S Supreme Court and he held this position for over twenty years and was probably best known for the Dred Scott decision which precipitated the Civil War. Key and his wife had 11 children and his oldest children began producing grandchildren while Key and his wife were still having children of their own. He was fervently anti-abolitionist but fervently defened slaves trying to get their freedom in court. It is also noted that Key was the prosecutor for Washington DC criminal courts for many years until he was not re-appointed by president John Tyler. He also maintained a lucrative private practice.

  • Kenneth
    2019-02-18 11:11

    A well-thought-out biography of a little understood icon of American history. This book sheds an unflinching light on the conflict and complexities of life in a young nation, slowly coming to grips with its greatest sin: slavery. Francis Scott Key was an attorney, negotiator, social climber, thinker, patriot, poet and family man who somehow was able to reconcile his opposition to slavery and tyranny with the fact that he owned slaves, himself. The many facets of his character serve to make him more human than the name at the top of our sheet music.While the subject is fascinating and the research impeccible, the narrative style leaves a little to be desired. I understand that this is a historical text, but it comes across as a mostly chronological recitation of facts, quotes and anecdotes, without much of a "story" feel. A number of compound run-on sentences (mostly introducing historical figures with full titles and genealogy) give the book even more of the textbook vibe, which is the main thing that keeps it from being as enjoyable as the legendary subject would suggest.In all, a solid effort - definitely recommended for history buffs.I received a copy of this book for free through the Goodreads First-Reads program. Thanks!

  • Karen
    2019-03-19 06:34

    I received an ARC of this book from the publisher through This has not influenced my review.I was quite excited to receive a copy of "What So Proudly We Hailed". This is a book that was a long-time coming and needed to be written. Most of us 'history buffs' only know Francis Scott Key as the writer of our national anthem. The author, Marc Leepson, has given us insight into Key's life as a slave owner, yet an opposer of slave trafficking. Key was also a confident of President Andrew Jackson, and an United States Attorney, to name a few of his accomplishments. Read the book to find out more.The only faults I found with the book were a few grammatical errors, and one blatant printing error on page 40 which has F.S. Key arriving at a church in 2014!!!!!

  • Russell Goulet
    2019-03-01 07:26

    I thought I knew a bit about Francis Scott Key, but Marc Leepson's book showed me how little I really knew about this man. Sure, he wrote the words to "The Star Spangled Banner" but Leepson explores so much more about the man and his life. Key was a bit of a man of mystery and Leepson says he never talked much about the song and writing it, but Leepson does bring other aspects of his life to light. Key led a fascinating life both before and after the events in Baltimore in 1814. The book is full of interesting tidbits about Key and the times he lived in. I received "What So Proudly We Hailed: Francis Scott Key, A Life," through the Goodreads First Reads program and it was a very enlightening bit of reading

  • Phil
    2019-03-04 12:20

    The book covers the story of Francis Scott Key's life. The events surrounding the Battle of Baltimore that lead him to write the Star Spangled Banner are just a small portion of the book. The main focus is on his role in the American Colonization Society and his work as an advisor to President Andrew Jackson. It also focuses on his career as the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, primarily during the Jackson Administration. I would have liked for the book to go into more detail on Key's involvement with the American Bible Society, but still recommend reading the book.

  • Zach
    2019-02-28 11:31

    I received this book as part of the Goodreads First Reads program and was eager to learn more about the life of the author of the Star-Spangled Banner. Since F.S. Key's family and professional life is not as well known as his contemporaries', I was very surprised to learn how involved he was with the national legal and political scene of our young country. Key's story is a great way to "live" the issues of this important time.

  • Q2
    2019-03-18 09:30

    Well-thought out and thorough biography. What I knew of Francis Scott Key before reading this book was something vague about him being stuck on a ship and penning the Star Spangled Banner. After this book, I know so much more about his life and story, as well as that of our country. Definitely a good read for history buffs--I recommended to the history teachers in my family! Thanks to Goodreads Giveaways for the opportunity to read this one--the book itself is beautiful, like the cover!

  • Scot
    2019-03-12 13:32

    Those familiar and pleased with Marc Leepson's easy to read yet informative style apparent in his earlier books on Lafayette, Monticello, the Battle of Monocacy, and dearest to my heart, the American Flag, will recognize it in this biography here again. For my fuller book review see the NAVA News newsletter.

  • Cheryl D
    2019-02-27 06:18

    A fabulous and very informative biography of the often conflicting choices that made up the life of Francis Scott Key and that of a nation coming into its own. Great in-depth research and writing which made this bio a pleasure to read. I learned much about the man and his times.* I received this book through the Goodreads Giveaway program*

  • Dot
    2019-03-15 11:21

    Interesting person and times, but mostly I found Key's dual set of principles towards African Americans puzzling. He defended some African Americans and some slave-holders. I don't think he was unique in this contradiction.

  • Mark Meyer
    2019-03-19 05:22

    Great book and a great time to read it! A story and a man we don't hear much about anymore, but should! Well written, very informative and kept my attention throughout, which most biographies fail to do. I received a free copy of this book via Goodreads First Reads.

  • Debbie
    2019-03-07 11:23

    Fascinating. Interesting. Learned so much. Could relate to a lot in the book with living in Baltimore. Though, a little bit too many details for me.

  • Robin
    2019-02-24 12:13

    This was an interesting read and there is way more to Francis Scott Key than The US National Anthem. For starters he was some what of a contradiction. (view spoiler)[ Like many people of the time he saw Blacks as mentally inferior. As a Lawyer he represented both Blacks and Whites. He usually represented the Blacks at no charge but he didn't always work to gain their freedom or get them out of something thy were accused of. In addition he was a part of a group that worked to send Freed Blacks back to Africa. It might be important to note that some of them at this point were born in America and knew nothing of Africa. I have found myself wondering what would happen to the National Anthem of the US if the people who believe statues of certain individuals should be removed knew that the man who wrote it was a Slave Owner.(hide spoiler)]If you have an interest in History then I recommend this book.

  • Joe Vonnegut
    2019-02-24 05:06

    Enjoyed reading this biography of a well known name, but someone we rarely here about. Key was not only a patriot, but a contradiction of terms; if you read this you'll understand what I mean. Highly recommend it.

  • Carolyn
    2019-03-16 07:20

    The author has a bit of a tendency to wander. I really, really hate to say so, but this book is boring. It is an interesting subject, but it comes off as extremely dry.OK, I hate to say it. I could not finish. I was so bored I stopped about 20% in. I was disappointed because FSK is a historical figure I have always been interested in.

  • Phillip Greenwalt
    2019-02-27 12:29

    Overall, a decent biography, some of the writing contradicted itself and wish it would have spent more time around the central, most important aspect of Key's life, the writing of the poem that led to the United States' National Anthem. Definitely worth a read as it does really show the character and man behind the poem.

  • Samantha
    2019-03-15 12:35

    Review coming soon...

  • Nancy Householder
    2019-03-08 13:15

    Great book ! learned so much about FS Key.

  • Cindy
    2019-03-18 10:34

    I really enjoyed reading this book. The story of how the 'Star Spangled Banner' came to be was intriguing to me and now I know the history of it.

  • David
    2019-03-03 10:07

    An average biography. I did not know about the controversy over the "Star Spangled Banner."

  • Katie Boston
    2019-02-22 10:19

    I received this book through the Goodreads giveaway program!