A History of the American Flag with Marc Leepson

A History of the American Flag with Marc Leepson


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The thirteen-stripe, fifty-star flag of the United States is as familiar an American icon as any that has existed in the nation’s history. It stirs something in the hearts of Americans like no other symbol. Yet the history of the flag, especially its origins, is cloaked in myth and misinformation. Journalist, historian, and author Marc Leepson—the author of Flag: An American Biography—will take deep dive into the entire history of the American flag in this lively, illuminating look at the history of the American flag from its beginnings to today.

We’ll learn many little-known, fascinating facts as he traces the evolution of the American flag from the colonial period to 2020. Aided by rare historical images, he will sift through the historical evidence to—among many other things—uncover the truth behind the Betsy Ross myth and to discover the real designer of the Stars and Stripes. He will also shine informing light on a string of colorful and influential Americans who shaped the history of the Stars and Stripes.

He also will examine the so-called “cult of the flag,” the almost religious feelings millions of Americans have for their flag, which began in the last third of the 19th century and remains a part of the American social fabric today. The seminar will close with a discussion of the unique U.S. Flag Code and the now-defunct state and federal flag protection laws.

Led by a historian, journalist, and author, Marc Leepson, expert on American History, this interactive seminar will discuss how the myths and misinformation associated with the American flag and trace the history of the flag from its origins. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of how the American flag and its role today.

Marc Leepson is the author of nine books, including Saving Monticello; a history of Thomas Jefferson’s “Essay in Architecture;” Flag: An American Biography, Lafayette: Idealist General, a concise biography of the Marquis de Lafayette; and What So Proudly We Hailed, a biography of Francis Scott Key. He taught U.S. History at Lord Fairfax Community College in Warrenton, Virginia, from 2007-2015. A former staff writer at Congressional Quarterly in Washington, D.C., his feature articles, essays, and book reviews have appeared in many magazines and newspapers, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Smithsonian, Publishers Weekly, Preservation, and Civil War Times. He has given scores of talks on his books and been interviewed many times on radio and television, including on The Today Show, CBS This Morning, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, Discovery Channel, The History Channel, History Detectives, All Things Considered, Talk of the Nation, To The Point, Morning Edition, The Diane Rehm Show, The BBC NewsHour, Irish Radio, and CBC (Canada), and has written entries for the Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Americana, and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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