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Profs & Pints: Troubling Truths About Our Anthem’s Author
July 2 @ 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm UTC+0$2 – $12
Profs and Pints presents: “Troubling Truths About Our Anthem’s Author,” with Marc Leepson, historian, college lecturer, and author of What So Proudly We Hailed: Francis Scott Key, A Life.
Gear up for Independence Day by learning about the complex and fascinating life of Francis Scott Key and the little-known story of how Key penned the words to our National Anthem during the 1814 Battle of Baltimore. You’ll discover how “The Star-Spangled Banner” was connected to racial politics long before Colin Kaepernick kneeled before an NFL game.
Marc Leepson, a former history professor at Lord Fairfax Community College and author of a well-received biography of Francis Scott Key, will sketch out how Key was a controversial figure whose life, in hindsight, exemplified both the best and worst of his era.
Key lived as one of the Early Republic’s most influential movers and shakers, gaining prominence partly as a result of his authorship of the lyrics of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Although he never sought nor held public office, he was an influential lawyer who argued more than 100 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, served as U.S. Attorney in D.C. for eight years, and was a close legal adviser to President Andrew Jackson.
It’s in connection with matters of race that rendering a verdict on Key gets complicated. A very religious man, he strongly criticized slavery on moral grounds even while being a slaveholder himself. He helped found the American Colonization Society, which worked to send free blacks to a colony in West Africa, leading to the creation of Liberia. At the same time, he also adamantly opposed abolitionism, and aggressively prosecuted a leading abolitionist for alleged involvement in Washington’s first race riot, in 1835.
Should Key’s life be looked upon with pride, or with shame? Here’s your chance to see the question subjected to informed debate. And what could be more American than that? (Advance tickets: $12. Door: $15, save $2 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later. Please give yourself plenty of time to place an order and get settled in.)