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The hanging of Thomas Jeremiah : a free black man's encounter with liberty /
J. William Harris.
imprint
New Haven : Yale University Press, c2009.
description
223 p.
ISBN
0300152140 (clothbound : alk. paper), 9780300152142 (clothbound : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
New Haven : Yale University Press, c2009.
isbn
0300152140 (clothbound : alk. paper)
9780300152142 (clothbound : alk. paper)
catalogue key
6981958
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Awards
This item was nominated for the following awards:
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2010-04-01:
In this short but extensively researched, richly detailed work, Harris (Univ. of New Hampshire) places the 1775 execution of Thomas Jeremiah, a free and exceptionally prosperous African American harbor pilot in Colonial Charleston, in social and political context. Harris makes extensive use of primary and secondary sources in Colonial South Carolina and Atlantic world history. As tensions rose in Colonial South Carolina on the verge of the Revolution, widespread fears that the British would incite slave uprisings as a means of suppressing resistance to crown authority swept the Colony. Within this environment, Jeremiah, himself a slave owner, was probably accused falsely of involvement in a plot to incite rebellion. Though a free man, his trial in a slave court brought forth a vigorous legal debate between his accusers--among them, leading advocates of American liberty such as Henry Laurens--and Jeremiah's chief supporter, royal governor Lord William Campbell. The debate raises questions of how race, liberty, and citizenship were conceived in Revolutionary America. Harris has made a fine addition to scholarship dealing with the meaning and nature of the Revolutionary experience as well as African American history. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. J. J. Rogers Gordon College
Appeared in Library Journal on 2009-12-01:
In this wholly satisfying work of accessible historical scholarship, Pulitzer Prize finalist Harris (Univ. of New Hampshire; Deep Souths) explores the paradox of Colonial American slave owners fighting for freedom from British rule. His account hinges upon the tragic plight of Thomas Jeremiah. A free black man who made a successful living as a commercial fisherman and riverboat pilot in Colonial Charleston, SC, "Jerry" was publicly hanged in 1775 after being falsely accused of plotting a slave revolt, despite being a slave owner himself. Among the powerful whites convinced of Jeremiah's unproven guilt was civic and political leader Henry Laurens, whose personal letters make up the bulk of the primary-source documentation used here. Laurens's contradictory attitudes toward owning slaves while simultaneously arguing for liberty from Britain represent the broader Colonial attitude at the heart of this study. A third key player is South Carolina's royal governor William Campbell, portrayed as a feckless outsider who never grasped the depths of white Colonists' fears of slave revolt and was tragically unable to effect Jeremiah's release. VERDICT Brimming with illuminating and provocative passages, this concise, highly readable, and thoroughly annotated work will appeal to scholars of Southern slavery and colonialism and is highly recommended to anyone interested in these significant components of American history. [See also "Best Books 2009," p. 48.-Ed.]-Douglas King, Univ. of South Carolina Lib., Columbia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reviews
Review Quotes
A Best Book of 2009, Library Journal
"A searing portrayal of the central paradox of the American Revolution-the centrality of slavery to the struggle for political liberty. By focusing on a single event, it exposes another paradox as well-that making a story small can also make it bigger."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Harvard University
"A searing portrayal of the central paradox of the American Revolution���the centrality of slavery to the struggle for political liberty. By focusing on a single event, it exposes another paradox as well���that making a story small can also make it bigger."���Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Harvard University
"A searing portrayal of the central paradox of the American Revolution�the centrality of slavery to the struggle for political liberty. By focusing on a single event, it exposes another paradox as well�that making a story small can also make it bigger."�Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Harvard University
"A searing portrayal of the central paradox of the American Revolutionthe centrality of slavery to the struggle for political liberty. By focusing on a single event, it exposes another paradox as wellthat making a story small can also make it bigger."Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Harvard University
"Beautifully written, this intense study of the conflict between liberty and slavery is told through the lives of colonial Americans in Charleston, South Carolina. In unraveling the mystery of a slave insurrection plot, Harris provides a wonderfully thick description of colonial life in Charles Town, South Carolina, in 1775. Harris weaves together lives of three slaveowners: wealthy merchant Henry Laurens, son of a British duke William Campbell, and harbor pilot, African American Thomas Jeremiah. This model microhistory opens up wonderful new insights about liberty in the context of the American Revolution: what liberty meant and for whom. This is history at its best, history as it should be."-Orville Vernon Burton, author of The Age of Lincoln
"Beautifully written, this intense study of the conflict between liberty and slavery is told through the lives of colonial Americans in Charleston, South Carolina. In unraveling the mystery of a slave insurrection plot, Harris provides a wonderfully thick description of colonial life in Charles Town, South Carolina, in 1775. Harris weaves together lives of three slaveowners: wealthy merchant Henry Laurens, son of a British duke William Campbell, and harbor pilot, African American Thomas Jeremiah. This model microhistory opens up wonderful new insights about liberty in the context of the American Revolution: what liberty meant and for whom. This is history at its best, history as it should be."Orville Vernon Burton, author of The Age of Lincoln
���Beautifully written, this intense study of the conflict between liberty and slavery is told through the lives of colonial Americans in Charleston, South Carolina. In unraveling the mystery of a slave insurrection plot, Harris provides a wonderfully thick description of colonial life in Charles Town, South Carolina, in 1775. Harris weaves together lives of three slaveowners: wealthy merchant Henry Laurens, son of a British duke William Campbell, and harbor pilot, African American Thomas Jeremiah. This model microhistory opens up wonderful new insights about liberty in the context of the American Revolution: what liberty meant and for whom. This is history at its best, history as it should be.������Orville Vernon Burton, author of The Age of Lincoln
�Beautifully written, this intense study of the conflict between liberty and slavery is told through the lives of colonial Americans in Charleston, South Carolina. In unraveling the mystery of a slave insurrection plot, Harris provides a wonderfully thick description of colonial life in Charles Town, South Carolina, in 1775. Harris weaves together lives of three slaveowners: wealthy merchant Henry Laurens, son of a British duke William Campbell, and harbor pilot, African American Thomas Jeremiah. This model microhistory opens up wonderful new insights about liberty in the context of the American Revolution: what liberty meant and for whom. This is history at its best, history as it should be.��Orville Vernon Burton, author of The Age of Lincoln
"Fast-paced, deeply researched. . . . gripping. . . . Harris' book reminds us that throughout history, liberty for some has rested on the denial of freedom for others."--John David Smith, Raleigh News & Observer
"Fast-paced, deeply researched. . . . gripping. . . . Harris' book reminds us that throughout history, liberty for some has rested on the denial of freedom for others."John David Smith, Raleigh News & Observer
�Fast-paced, deeply researched. . . . gripping. . . . Harris� book reminds us that throughout history, liberty for some has rested on the denial of freedom for others.�--John David Smith, Raleigh News & Observer
Finalist for the 2009 Book of the Year Award, presented by ForeWord magazine
Honorable Mention in the Non-Fiction category of the 2009 New England Book Festival sponsored by the Larimar St. Croix Writers Colony, The Hollywood Creative Directory; eDivvy, Shopanista and Westside Websites
" Intrepid historian Harris presents a carefully researched account. . . . 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"-- Publishers Weekly
"Intrepid historian Harris presents a carefully researched account. . . . 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." Publishers Weekly
"Intrepid historian Harris presents a carefully researched account. . . . 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"--Publishers Weekly
�Intrepid historian Harris presents a carefully researched account. . . . 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�--Publishers Weekly
"J. William Harris tells a fascinating and finely researched story of principles in conflict and of individuals holding conflicting principles." Charleston City Paper
"J. William Harris tells a fascinating and finely researched story of principles in conflict and of individuals holding conflicting principles."-- Charleston City Paper
"J. William Harris tells a fascinating and finely researched story of principles in conflict and of individuals holding conflicting principles."--Charleston City Paper
�J. William Harris tells a fascinating and finely researched story of principles in conflict and of individuals holding conflicting principles.�--Charleston City Paper
"This detailed examination of a little-known episode provides an insightful reflection and commentary on the vexed relationships among liberty, slavery, and the British Empire in the era of the Declaration of Independence."--Richard D. Brown, The Journal of Law and History Review
"This detailed examination of a little-known episode provides an insightful reflection and commentary on the vexed relationships among liberty, slavery, and the British Empire in the era of the Declaration of Independence."--Richard D. Brown,The Journal of Law and History Review
"This well told tale, brilliantly illustrating the American contradiction, centers on a black slaveholder, dubiously hung for allegedly fomenting a slave revolt at the time of colonial whites'' revolt against English ''enslavement.'' The book''s excruciating dedication reinforces its continued relevance to consistency about human liberty."-William W. Freehling, author of The Road to Disunion
"This well told tale, brilliantly illustrating the American contradiction, centers on a black slaveholder, dubiously hung for allegedly fomenting a slave revolt at the time of colonial whites'' revolt against English ''enslavement.'' The book''s excruciating dedication reinforces its continued relevance to consistency about human liberty."���William W. Freehling, author of The Road to Disunion
"This well told tale, brilliantly illustrating the American contradiction, centers on a black slaveholder, dubiously hung for allegedly fomenting a slave revolt at the time of colonial whites'' revolt against English ''enslavement.'' The book''s excruciating dedication reinforces its continued relevance to consistency about human liberty."�William W. Freehling, author of The Road to Disunion
"This well told tale, brilliantly illustrating the American contradiction, centers on a black slaveholder, dubiously hung for allegedly fomenting a slave revolt at the time of colonial whites'' revolt against English ''enslavement.'' The book''s excruciating dedication reinforces its continued relevance to consistency about human liberty."William W. Freehling, author of The Road to Disunion
Winner of the Silver Medal in the History category for the 2009 Book of the Year Award, presented by ForeWord magazine
This item was reviewed in:
Library Journal, December 2009
PW Annex Reviews, December 2009
Choice, April 2010
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
In 1775, Thomas Jeremiah was one of fewer than 500 'Free Negros' in South Carolina and possibly the richest person of African descent. A slave owner himself, Jeremiah was falsely accused white of sowing insurrection among slaves at the behest of the British. This book tells Jeremiah's story in full.
Main Description
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 500 "Free Negros" in South Carolina and, with an estimated worth of 1000 (about $200,000), possibly the richest person of African descent in British North America. A slave owner himself, Jeremiah was falsely accused by whiteswho resented his success as a Charleston harbor pilotof sowing insurrection among slaves at the behest of the British. Chief among the accusers was Henry Laurens, Charleston's leading patriot, a slave owner and former slave trader, who would later become the president of the Continental Congress. Lord William Campbell, royal governor of the colony, who passionately believed the accusation was unjust, tried to save Jeremiah's 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 Jeremiah's 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 itoften violentlyto others.
Main Description
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 today's dollars), possibly the richest person of African descent in British North America. A slaveowner himself, Jeremiah was falsely accused by whiteswho resented his success as a Charleston harbor pilotof sowing insurrection among slaves at the behest of the British. Chief among the accusers was Henry Laurens, Charleston's 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 Jeremiah's 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 Jeremiah's 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 itoften violentlyto others.
Main Description
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 today's 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, Charleston's 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 Jeremiah's 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 Jeremiah's 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.
Main Description
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 today's dollars), possibly the richest person of African descent in British North America. A slaveowner himself, Jeremiah was falsely accused by whiteswho resented his success as a Charleston harbor pilotof sowing insurrection among slaves at the behest of the British. Chief among the accusers was Henry Laurens, Charleston's 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 Jeremiah's 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 Jeremiah's 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 itoften violentlyto others.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrationsp. ix
Prologue: Trialsp. 1
Liberty and Slavery
"Slavery may truly he said to be the peculiar curse of this land"p. 7
"Those natural and inherent rights that we all feel, and know, as men"p. 39
"God will deliver his own People from Slavery"p. 63
Liberty's Trials
"A plan, for instigating the slaves to insurrection"p. 83
"The Young King was about to alter the World, & set the Negroes Free"p. 100
"Dark, Hellish plots"p. 119
"Justice is Satisfied!"p. 136
Epiloguep. 152
Afterword: Thomas Jeremiah and the Historiansp. 162
Abbreviations Used in the Notesp. 167
Notesp. 169
A Note on Sourcesp. 201
Acknowledgmentsp. 211
Indexp. 215
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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