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1 Burnside African American Studies- Slavery and Reconstruction

This title in other editions

The Hanging of Thomas Jeremiah: A Free Black Man's Encounter with Liberty

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The Hanging of Thomas Jeremiah: A Free Black Man's Encounter with Liberty Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The tragic untold story of how a nation struggling for its freedom denied it to one of its own.

In 1775, Thomas Jeremiah was one of fewer than five hundred “Free Negros” in South Carolina and, with an estimated worth of £1,000 (about $200,000 in todays dollars), possibly the richest person of African descent in British North America. A slaveowner himself, Jeremiah was falsely accused by whites—who resented his success as a Charleston harbor pilot—of sowing insurrection among slaves at the behest of the British.

Chief among the accusers was Henry Laurens, Charlestons leading patriot, a slaveowner and former slave trader, who would later become the president of the Continental Congress. On the other side was Lord William Campbell, royal governor of the colony, who passionately believed that the accusation was unjust and tried to save Jeremiahs life but failed. Though a free man, Jeremiah was tried in a slave court and sentenced to death. In August 1775, he was hanged and his body burned.

J. William Harris tells Jeremiahs story in full for the first time, illuminating the contradiction between a nation that would be born in a struggle for freedom and yet deny it—often violently—to others.

Review:

"Intrepid historian Harris (Pulitzer finalist for Deep Souths: Delta, Piedmont and Sea Island Society in the Age of Segregation) presents a carefully research account of nebulous historical figure Thomas Jeremiah, who, at the time of his death in 1775, 'had risen as high as it was possible for a free black man' in South Carolina, where at least 'ninety-nine in a hundred blacks were enslaved.' Owner of a fishing company and worth $200,000 in 2009 dollars, Harris was probably the richest black man in North America; he was also a slave-owner. That didn't stop him from becoming a scapegoat, accused by patriot leader Henry Laurens-a wealthy plantation owner with hundreds of slaves-of secretly leading a British-sponsored slave insurrection. Though Governor William Campbell, aggrieved by the unlawfulness of Jeremiah's trial, interceded, it didn't stop those determined to hang Jeremiah. Alongside a rigorous narrative, Harris offers sober but forceful reflections: though he was 'free, Christian, and a slave owner,' Jeremiah proved an unworthy ally in the eyes of patriots like Laurens, who believed 'the America being born...would be a white man's country.' Readers will learn much about the darker side of American institutions; students of American history and civil rights will appreciate Harris's impassive approach and thorough standards. 18 b&w photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

About the Author

J. William Harris is professor of history at the University of New Hampshire. He is the author of The Making of the American South, Deep Souths (finalist for the 2002 Pulitzer Prize in history), and Plain Folk and Gentry in a Slave Society. He lives in Arlington, MA.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780300152142
Subtitle:
A Free Black Man's Encounter with Liberty
Author:
Harris, J William
Author:
Harris, J. William
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Subject:
Slavery -- United States -- History.
Subject:
Liberty - Political aspects - United States -
Subject:
Americas (North Central South West Indies)
Subject:
United States - Colonial Period
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
Ethnic Studies - African American Studies - Histor
Subject:
United States - State & Local - South
Subject:
African American Studies-Black Heritage
Subject:
World History-General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20110222
Binding:
Paperback
Language:
English
Illustrations:
22 b/w illus.
Pages:
240
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.13 in 0.8 lb

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Related Subjects

Biography » Historical
History and Social Science » African American Studies » Slavery and Reconstruction
History and Social Science » Ethnic Studies » Racism and Ethnic Conflict
History and Social Science » Law » General
History and Social Science » US History » Colonial America
History and Social Science » World History » General

The Hanging of Thomas Jeremiah: A Free Black Man's Encounter with Liberty Sale Hardcover
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$13.97 In Stock
Product details 240 pages Yale University Press - English 9780300152142 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Intrepid historian Harris (Pulitzer finalist for Deep Souths: Delta, Piedmont and Sea Island Society in the Age of Segregation) presents a carefully research account of nebulous historical figure Thomas Jeremiah, who, at the time of his death in 1775, 'had risen as high as it was possible for a free black man' in South Carolina, where at least 'ninety-nine in a hundred blacks were enslaved.' Owner of a fishing company and worth $200,000 in 2009 dollars, Harris was probably the richest black man in North America; he was also a slave-owner. That didn't stop him from becoming a scapegoat, accused by patriot leader Henry Laurens-a wealthy plantation owner with hundreds of slaves-of secretly leading a British-sponsored slave insurrection. Though Governor William Campbell, aggrieved by the unlawfulness of Jeremiah's trial, interceded, it didn't stop those determined to hang Jeremiah. Alongside a rigorous narrative, Harris offers sober but forceful reflections: though he was 'free, Christian, and a slave owner,' Jeremiah proved an unworthy ally in the eyes of patriots like Laurens, who believed 'the America being born...would be a white man's country.' Readers will learn much about the darker side of American institutions; students of American history and civil rights will appreciate Harris's impassive approach and thorough standards. 18 b&w photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
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