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New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery, and Conspiracy in Eighteenth-Century Manhattan

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New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery, and Conspiracy in Eighteenth-Century Manhattan Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A gripping tale and groundbreaking investigation of a mysterious, and largely forgotten, eighteenth-century slave plot to destroy New York City.

Over a few weeks in 1741, ten fires blazed across Manhattan. With each new fire, panicked whites saw more evidence of a slave uprising. Tried and convicted before the colony's Supreme Court, thirteen black men were burned at the stake and seventeen were hanged. Four whites, the alleged ringleaders of the plot, were also hanged, and seven more were pardoned on condition that they never set foot in New York again. More than one hundred black men and women were thrown into a dungeon beneath City Hall, where many were forced to confess and name names, sending still more men to the gallows and to the stake.

In a narrative rich with period detail and vivid description, Jill Lepore pieces together the events and the thinking that led white New Yorkers to make "bonfires of the Negroes." She reconstructs the harsh past of a city that slavery built — and almost destroyed. She explores the social and political climate of the 1730s and '40s and examines the nature and tenor of the interactions between slaves and their masters. She shows too that the 1741 conspiracy can be understood only alongside a more famous episode from the city's past: the 1735 trial of the printer John Peter Zenger. And, weighing both new and old evidence, she makes clear how the threat of black rebellion made white political pluralism palatable.

Lucid, probing, captivatingly written, New York Burning is a revelatory study of the ways in which slavery both destabilized and created American politics.

Review:

"With riveting prose and a richly imagined re-creation of a horrible but little-studied event, Bancroft Prize-winning historian Lepore (The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity) deftly recounts the circumstances surrounding a conspiracy in pre-Revolutionary Manhattan. In 1741, its teeming streets erupted into fire in at least 10 locations. At first, rival political parties blamed each other for the conflagrations, but they joined forces against black slaves when a young white woman named Mary Burton testified that she had witnessed several slaves conspiring to kill whites and gain their liberty. The colony's leaders arrested and tried at least 100 black men and women. Eventually, the colonial Supreme Court sentenced 30 men to death; 17 were hanged (along with the four supposed white ringleaders) and 13 burned at the stake, based solely on Burton's testimony. Out of fear, several slaves testified against others, and the bulk were sent into brutal slavery in the Caribbean. Drawing primarily on New York Supreme Court justice Daniel Horsmanden's Journal of the Proceedings in The Detection of the Conspiracy formed by Some White People, in Conjunction with Negro and Other Slaves, Lepore demonstrates that whites' fear of black rebellion led them to blame any threat to the colony on the activity of slaves. In this first-rate social history, Lepore not only adroitly examines the case's travesty, questioning whether such a conspiracy ever existed, but also draws a splendid portrait of the struggles, prejudices and triumphs of a very young New York City in which fully 'one in five inhabitants was enslaved.' 17 illus., 1 map. (Aug. 29)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Lepore's...narrative...is a stellar performance....Previously a recipient of the Bancroft Prize (for The Name of War, 1998), Lepore may once again win that prestigious honor in American history for this searing work." Booklist (Starred Review)

Review:

"[Lepore] seeks to distinguish between the kind of liberty achieved by literate whites (e.g., freedom of the press) and the kinds of liberty that proved elusive for blacks....Recommended..." Library Journal

Review:

"Lepore...is here an engaging storyteller. She has re-created a little-known but significant incident in Colonial history, skillfully unraveling the threads of conspiracies." Boston Globe

Review:

"New York Burning is worth the price of admission simply for its narrative power....[A] gripping tale...the author tells the story with subtlety and verve....It is the type of book...that historians need to write, more often." Newsday

Review:

"Jill Lepore has written a vivid and convincing account of the 'plot' and its aftermath." Washington Post

Synopsis:

From the award-winning author of The Name of War: a gripping, illuminating account of an alleged, and largely forgotton, 18th-century slave conspiracy to destroy New York City. Over a few weeks in 1741, ten fires blazed across Manhattan. With each new fire, panicked whites saw more evidence of a slave uprising. Tried and convicted before the colony's Supreme Court, 13 black men were burned at the stake and 17 were hanged. More than 100 black men and women were thrown into a dungeon beneath City Hall, where many were forced to confess and to name names, sending still more men to the gallows and to the stake. In a narrative rich with period detail and vivid description, Jill Lepore pieces together the events and the thinking that led white New Yorkers to make bonfires of the Negroes. She reconstructs the harsh past of a city that slavery built — and almost destroyed. In a groundbreaking investigation, she explores the social and political climate of the 1730s and 1740s and examines the nature and tenor of the interactions between slaves and their masters. And she makes clear how the threat of black rebellion made white political pluralism palatable. Lucid, probing, captivatingly written, New York Burning is a revelatory study of the ways in which slavery both created and destabilized American politics.

About the Author

Jill Lepore is Professor of History at Harvard University and the author of The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity, which won both the Bancroft Prize and Phi Beta Kappa's Ralph Waldo Emerson Award. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband and children.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781400040292
Subtitle:
Liberty, Slavery, and Conspiracy in Eighteenth-Century Manhattan
Publisher:
Knopf
Author:
Lepore, Jill
Subject:
History
Subject:
United States - Colonial Period
Subject:
Ethnic Studies - African American Studies - Histor
Subject:
United States - State & Local - General
Subject:
United States - State & Local - Middle Atlantic
Subject:
United States / Colonial Period(1600-1775)
Publication Date:
20050823
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
17 ILLUS IN TEXT, and 1 MAP
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
1400x1400

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » US History » Colonial America

New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery, and Conspiracy in Eighteenth-Century Manhattan
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 352 pages Alfred A. Knopf - English 9781400040292 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "With riveting prose and a richly imagined re-creation of a horrible but little-studied event, Bancroft Prize-winning historian Lepore (The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity) deftly recounts the circumstances surrounding a conspiracy in pre-Revolutionary Manhattan. In 1741, its teeming streets erupted into fire in at least 10 locations. At first, rival political parties blamed each other for the conflagrations, but they joined forces against black slaves when a young white woman named Mary Burton testified that she had witnessed several slaves conspiring to kill whites and gain their liberty. The colony's leaders arrested and tried at least 100 black men and women. Eventually, the colonial Supreme Court sentenced 30 men to death; 17 were hanged (along with the four supposed white ringleaders) and 13 burned at the stake, based solely on Burton's testimony. Out of fear, several slaves testified against others, and the bulk were sent into brutal slavery in the Caribbean. Drawing primarily on New York Supreme Court justice Daniel Horsmanden's Journal of the Proceedings in The Detection of the Conspiracy formed by Some White People, in Conjunction with Negro and Other Slaves, Lepore demonstrates that whites' fear of black rebellion led them to blame any threat to the colony on the activity of slaves. In this first-rate social history, Lepore not only adroitly examines the case's travesty, questioning whether such a conspiracy ever existed, but also draws a splendid portrait of the struggles, prejudices and triumphs of a very young New York City in which fully 'one in five inhabitants was enslaved.' 17 illus., 1 map. (Aug. 29)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Lepore's...narrative...is a stellar performance....Previously a recipient of the Bancroft Prize (for The Name of War, 1998), Lepore may once again win that prestigious honor in American history for this searing work."
"Review" by , "[Lepore] seeks to distinguish between the kind of liberty achieved by literate whites (e.g., freedom of the press) and the kinds of liberty that proved elusive for blacks....Recommended..."
"Review" by , "Lepore...is here an engaging storyteller. She has re-created a little-known but significant incident in Colonial history, skillfully unraveling the threads of conspiracies."
"Review" by , "New York Burning is worth the price of admission simply for its narrative power....[A] gripping tale...the author tells the story with subtlety and verve....It is the type of book...that historians need to write, more often."
"Review" by , "Jill Lepore has written a vivid and convincing account of the 'plot' and its aftermath."
"Synopsis" by , From the award-winning author of The Name of War: a gripping, illuminating account of an alleged, and largely forgotton, 18th-century slave conspiracy to destroy New York City. Over a few weeks in 1741, ten fires blazed across Manhattan. With each new fire, panicked whites saw more evidence of a slave uprising. Tried and convicted before the colony's Supreme Court, 13 black men were burned at the stake and 17 were hanged. More than 100 black men and women were thrown into a dungeon beneath City Hall, where many were forced to confess and to name names, sending still more men to the gallows and to the stake. In a narrative rich with period detail and vivid description, Jill Lepore pieces together the events and the thinking that led white New Yorkers to make bonfires of the Negroes. She reconstructs the harsh past of a city that slavery built — and almost destroyed. In a groundbreaking investigation, she explores the social and political climate of the 1730s and 1740s and examines the nature and tenor of the interactions between slaves and their masters. And she makes clear how the threat of black rebellion made white political pluralism palatable. Lucid, probing, captivatingly written, New York Burning is a revelatory study of the ways in which slavery both created and destabilized American politics.
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