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Snow-Storm in August: Washington City, Francis Scott Key, and the Forgotten Race Riot of 1835

by

Snow-Storm in August: Washington City, Francis Scott Key, and the Forgotten Race Riot of 1835 Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A gripping narrative history of the explosive events that drew together Francis Scott Key, Andrew Jackson, and an 18-year-old slave on trial for attempted murder.

In 1835, the city of Washington pulsed with change. As newly freed African Americans from the South poured in, free blacks outnumbered slaves for the first time. Radical notions of abolishing slavery circulated on the city's streets, and white residents were forced to confront new ideas of what the nation's future might look like.

On the night of August 4th, Arthur Bowen, an eighteen-year-old slave, stumbled into the bedroom where his owner, Anna Thornton, slept. He had an ax in the crook of his arm. An alarm was raised, and he ran away. Word of the incident spread rapidly, and within days, Washington's first race riot exploded, as whites fearing a slave rebellion attacked the property of the free blacks. Residents dubbed the event the “Snow-Storm," in reference to the central role of Beverly Snow, a flamboyant former slave turned successful restaurateur, who became the target of the mob's rage.

In the wake of the riot came two sensational criminal trials that gripped the city. Prosecuting both cases was none other than Francis Scott Key, a politically ambitious attorney famous for writing the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner,” who few now remember served as the city's district attorney for eight years. Key defended slavery until the twilight's last gleaming, and pandered to racial fears by seeking capital punishment for Arthur Bowen. But in a surprise twist his prosecution was thwarted by Arthur's ostensible victim, Anna Thornton, a respected socialite who sought the help of President Andrew Jackson.

Ranging beyond the familiar confines of the White House and the Capitol, Snow-Storm in August delivers readers into an unknown chapter of American history with a textured and absorbing account of the racial secrets and contradictions that coursed beneath the freewheeling capital of a rising world power.

"Snow-Storm in August is the sort of book I most love to read: history so fresh it feels alive, yet introducing me to a time and place that I had little known or utterly misunderstood. After reading Jefferson Morley's vibrant account, one can never hear 'The Star-Spangled Banner' the same way again."

—David Maraniss, author of Barack Obama: The Story

Review:

"On August 4, 1835, young slave Arthur Bowen, inebriated and angry after a night of conversation with other slaves seeking to end slavery, entered the bedroom of his sleeping owner, Anna Thornton, carrying an ax. Awakened and fearing Bowen intended to kill her, she raised an alarm. While passions were already running high in Washington, D.C., fueled by fears of a possible slave insurrection and unsettled feelings about slavery itself, a white mob attacked the highly successful restaurant of Beverly Snow, a free man of mixed race with a loyal following among whites for his sly sense of humor and impeccably cooked feasts. A young attorney, Francis Scott Key, already known for his poem 'The Star-Spangled Banner,' prosecuted the Bowen case, and Bowen was sentenced to death. But in a compelling twist of fate, Anna Thornton petitioned for Bowen's pardon, which President Andrew Jackson granted. In a crackling good tale of the deep impact of race and politics on a young nation struggling to create its identity, Salon Washington correspondent Morley (Our Man in Mexico: Winston Scott and the Hidden History of the CIA) boldly and elegantly recreates a moment in time when free black businessmen mingled with their white counterparts while proponents of slavery and abolitionists struggled to co-exist in the nation's bustling capital. Illus., map. Agent: req. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Synopsis:

A gripping narrative history of the explosive events that drew together Francis Scott Key, Andrew Jackson, and an 18-year-old slave on trial for attempted murder.

In 1835, the city of Washington pulsed with change. As newly freed African Americans from the South poured in, free blacks outnumbered slaves for the first time. Radical notions of abolishing slavery circulated on the city's streets, and white residents were forced to confront new ideas of what the nation's future might look like.

On the night of August 4th, Arthur Bowen, an eighteen-year-old slave, stumbled into the bedroom where his owner, Anna Thornton, slept. He had an ax in the crook of his arm. An alarm was raised, and he ran away. Word of the incident spread rapidly, and within days, Washington's first race riot exploded, as whites fearing a slave rebellion attacked the property of the free blacks. Residents dubbed the event the “Snow-Storm," in reference to the central role of Beverly Snow, a flamboyant former slave turned successful restaurateur, who became the target of the mob's rage.

In the wake of the riot came two sensational criminal trials that gripped the city. Prosecuting both cases was none other than Francis Scott Key, a politically ambitious attorney famous for writing the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner,” who few now remember served as the city's district attorney for eight years. Key defended slavery until the twilight's last gleaming, and pandered to racial fears by seeking capital punishment for Arthur Bowen. But in a surprise twist his prosecution was thwarted by Arthur's ostensible victim, Anna Thornton, a respected socialite who sought the help of President Andrew Jackson.

Ranging beyond the familiar confines of the White House and the Capitol, Snow-Storm in August delivers readers into an unknown chapter of American history with a textured and absorbing account of the racial secrets and contradictions that coursed beneath the freewheeling capital of a rising world power.

"Snow-Storm in August is the sort of book I most love to read: history so fresh it feels alive, yet introducing me to a time and place that I had little known or utterly misunderstood. After reading Jefferson Morley's vibrant account, one can never hear 'The Star-Spangled Banner' the same way again."

—David Maraniss, author of Barack Obama: The Story

Synopsis:

The riveting story of how the epic struggle over slavery first violently erupted in the seat of American government.

In 1835, the City of Washington was simmering. Drawn to the District of Columbia by the prospect of employment, newly freed African Americans from the South poured in, and free blacks outnumbered slaves for the first time. Meanwhile, white residents were forced to confront new ideas of what the nation's future might look like. 

On the night of August 4, 1835, Arthur Bowen, an eighteen-year-old slave, stumbled home intoxicated, found an ax left in the basement stairwell, and entered the bedroom where his owner, Anna Thornton, slept. Word of Arthur's drunken deed spread rapidly, and within days, Washington's first race riot exploded. Beverly Snow, a former slave turned successful restaurateur, personified the new aspirations for freedom and became the focus of the mob's ire, lending his name to newspaper coverage of the "Snow-Storm." In the wake of this uprising came two sensational criminal trials that gripped the city and a nation wracked by the issue of slavery.

Prosecuting both cases was none other than Francis Scott Key, the famous lyricist of the national anthem, who few now remember served as the city's district attorney. Key aggressively defended slavery until the twilight's last gleaming, and he pandered to racial fears by seeking the maximum sentence for Bowen. But in a surprise twist his attempts were thwarted by Arthur's ostensible victim, Anna Thornton, a respected socialite whose deceased husband had designed the U.S. Capitol and who may well have been Arthur's father. After charming President Andrew Jackson into considering her unlikely appeal, Thornton secured an improbable victory for American justice by handing Key a resounding defeat.

Snow-Storm in August is an absorbing account of the racial secrets and contradictions that once coursed beneath the capital of a rising world power.

About the Author

JEFFERSON MORLEY is the Washington correspondent for Salon. He has worked as an editor and reporter at The Washington PostThe NationThe New Republic, and Harper’s Magazine. His work has appeared in The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post Book World, Reader’s Digest, Rolling Stone, and Slate. His first book was Our Man in Mexico: Winston Scott and the Hidden History of the CIA. 

Product Details

ISBN:
9780385533379
Author:
Morley, Jefferson
Publisher:
Nan A. Talese
Author:
Morley
Author:
Jefferson
Subject:
Politics - General
Subject:
US History-19th Century
Subject:
non-fiction;washington dc
Publication Date:
20120731
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
8 PP OF PHOTOS; 7 ILL IN TXT; ENDPAPERS
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
9.5 x 6.4 x 1.38 in 1.56 lb

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » African American Studies » General
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » Sociology » Slavery
History and Social Science » US History » 1800 to 1945
History and Social Science » US History » 1800 to Civil War
History and Social Science » US History » 19th Century

Snow-Storm in August: Washington City, Francis Scott Key, and the Forgotten Race Riot of 1835 Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$13.95 In Stock
Product details 352 pages Nan A. Talese - English 9780385533379 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "On August 4, 1835, young slave Arthur Bowen, inebriated and angry after a night of conversation with other slaves seeking to end slavery, entered the bedroom of his sleeping owner, Anna Thornton, carrying an ax. Awakened and fearing Bowen intended to kill her, she raised an alarm. While passions were already running high in Washington, D.C., fueled by fears of a possible slave insurrection and unsettled feelings about slavery itself, a white mob attacked the highly successful restaurant of Beverly Snow, a free man of mixed race with a loyal following among whites for his sly sense of humor and impeccably cooked feasts. A young attorney, Francis Scott Key, already known for his poem 'The Star-Spangled Banner,' prosecuted the Bowen case, and Bowen was sentenced to death. But in a compelling twist of fate, Anna Thornton petitioned for Bowen's pardon, which President Andrew Jackson granted. In a crackling good tale of the deep impact of race and politics on a young nation struggling to create its identity, Salon Washington correspondent Morley (Our Man in Mexico: Winston Scott and the Hidden History of the CIA) boldly and elegantly recreates a moment in time when free black businessmen mingled with their white counterparts while proponents of slavery and abolitionists struggled to co-exist in the nation's bustling capital. Illus., map. Agent: req. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by , A gripping narrative history of the explosive events that drew together Francis Scott Key, Andrew Jackson, and an 18-year-old slave on trial for attempted murder.

In 1835, the city of Washington pulsed with change. As newly freed African Americans from the South poured in, free blacks outnumbered slaves for the first time. Radical notions of abolishing slavery circulated on the city's streets, and white residents were forced to confront new ideas of what the nation's future might look like.

On the night of August 4th, Arthur Bowen, an eighteen-year-old slave, stumbled into the bedroom where his owner, Anna Thornton, slept. He had an ax in the crook of his arm. An alarm was raised, and he ran away. Word of the incident spread rapidly, and within days, Washington's first race riot exploded, as whites fearing a slave rebellion attacked the property of the free blacks. Residents dubbed the event the “Snow-Storm," in reference to the central role of Beverly Snow, a flamboyant former slave turned successful restaurateur, who became the target of the mob's rage.

In the wake of the riot came two sensational criminal trials that gripped the city. Prosecuting both cases was none other than Francis Scott Key, a politically ambitious attorney famous for writing the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner,” who few now remember served as the city's district attorney for eight years. Key defended slavery until the twilight's last gleaming, and pandered to racial fears by seeking capital punishment for Arthur Bowen. But in a surprise twist his prosecution was thwarted by Arthur's ostensible victim, Anna Thornton, a respected socialite who sought the help of President Andrew Jackson.

Ranging beyond the familiar confines of the White House and the Capitol, Snow-Storm in August delivers readers into an unknown chapter of American history with a textured and absorbing account of the racial secrets and contradictions that coursed beneath the freewheeling capital of a rising world power.

"Snow-Storm in August is the sort of book I most love to read: history so fresh it feels alive, yet introducing me to a time and place that I had little known or utterly misunderstood. After reading Jefferson Morley's vibrant account, one can never hear 'The Star-Spangled Banner' the same way again."

—David Maraniss, author of Barack Obama: The Story

"Synopsis" by , The riveting story of how the epic struggle over slavery first violently erupted in the seat of American government.

In 1835, the City of Washington was simmering. Drawn to the District of Columbia by the prospect of employment, newly freed African Americans from the South poured in, and free blacks outnumbered slaves for the first time. Meanwhile, white residents were forced to confront new ideas of what the nation's future might look like. 

On the night of August 4, 1835, Arthur Bowen, an eighteen-year-old slave, stumbled home intoxicated, found an ax left in the basement stairwell, and entered the bedroom where his owner, Anna Thornton, slept. Word of Arthur's drunken deed spread rapidly, and within days, Washington's first race riot exploded. Beverly Snow, a former slave turned successful restaurateur, personified the new aspirations for freedom and became the focus of the mob's ire, lending his name to newspaper coverage of the "Snow-Storm." In the wake of this uprising came two sensational criminal trials that gripped the city and a nation wracked by the issue of slavery.

Prosecuting both cases was none other than Francis Scott Key, the famous lyricist of the national anthem, who few now remember served as the city's district attorney. Key aggressively defended slavery until the twilight's last gleaming, and he pandered to racial fears by seeking the maximum sentence for Bowen. But in a surprise twist his attempts were thwarted by Arthur's ostensible victim, Anna Thornton, a respected socialite whose deceased husband had designed the U.S. Capitol and who may well have been Arthur's father. After charming President Andrew Jackson into considering her unlikely appeal, Thornton secured an improbable victory for American justice by handing Key a resounding defeat.

Snow-Storm in August is an absorbing account of the racial secrets and contradictions that once coursed beneath the capital of a rising world power.

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