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

New York Burning Liberty Slavery and Conspiracy in Eighteenth Century Manhattan Pulitzer Prize FinalistAnisfield Wolf Award WinnerOver a frigid few weeks in the winter of ten fires blazed across Manhattan With each new fire panicked whites saw evidence of a slave uprising

  • Title: New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery, and Conspiracy in Eighteenth-Century Manhattan
  • Author: Jill Lepore
  • ISBN: 9781400032266
  • Page: 308
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pulitzer Prize FinalistAnisfield Wolf Award WinnerOver a frigid few weeks in the winter of 1741, ten fires blazed across Manhattan With each new fire, panicked whites saw evidence of a slave uprising In the end, thirteen black men were burned at the stake, seventeen were hanged and than one hundred black men and women were thrown into a dungeon beneath City HalPulitzer Prize FinalistAnisfield Wolf Award WinnerOver a frigid few weeks in the winter of 1741, ten fires blazed across Manhattan With each new fire, panicked whites saw evidence of a slave uprising In the end, thirteen black men were burned at the stake, seventeen were hanged and than one hundred black men and women were thrown into a dungeon beneath City Hall In New York Burning, Bancroft Prize winning historian Jill Lepore recounts these dramatic events, re creating, with path breaking research, the nascent New York of the seventeenth century Even then, the city was a rich mosaic of cultures, communities and colors, with slaves making up a full one fifth of the population Exploring the political and social climate of the times, Lepore dramatically shows how, in a city rife with state intrigue and terror, the threat of black rebellion united the white political pluralities in a frenzy of racial fear and violence.

    One thought on “New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery, and Conspiracy in Eighteenth-Century Manhattan”

    1. This book should have been really good- a history of a forgotten event revolving around politics and race in colonial New York City and it was a Pulitzer Prize finalist (according to the sticker on the front). However, the narrative was really hard to follow. The author skipped around in time a lot both within chapters and between them. Combined with a lot of names to keep track of, it made following the story really hard to follow. She also ends the book on a downer with the politically charged [...]

    2. I didn't like this as well as Lepore's The Name of War, but it's a worthwhile read. Lepore addresses two huge issues that don't get taught about American history. First, slavery as an institution thrived in all of the American colonies (later states), not just the Southern US. In the 1700s, New York City had more slaves per capita (20%) than any other eastern seaboard colony except Charleston. Second, when we talk about the revolutionary heritage of the US, we ignore the fact that slaves played [...]

    3. This is a superb book, but make no mistake, it is serious historical research and not easy reading.(The basis for my 4 star rating is the quality and depth of the research and not necessarily readability.) For the uninformed (as I was), the book focuses on the aftermath of a series of fires that occurred in the mid-1700's in New York City that sparked a much greater emotional fire of fear, suspicion, and racism that ultimately resulted in the torturous execution of dozens of people, most of whom [...]

    4. Lepore offers a well-researched reconstruction of the alleged conspiracy of the 1741 arsons in New York. Is this an important book? I imagine so. Is it a “good read”? Not necessarily. Her narrative and style of writing is commendable – having to sift through, quote from, and reinterpret the Ye Olde cruddy English syntax of the day. Necessarily relying on the printed Journal produced by Daniel Horsmanden – a lawyer in charge of the trials – she, and thus we, get exposure to such run-on [...]

    5. Parts were very interesting and intriguing, but other parts were rather dry. If you are someone who likes to study 17th and 18th America, this would be a good read for you.

    6. As I listened to the narrative, a couple of points kept hitting me, some regarding the writing and the history itself, and some regarding the reader. The reader on several occasions mispronounced words, or pronounced them in such a way that the audio reader has no idea what they are. Another issue I had with the reader is the occasional lapse into pretentiousness, where she added a bit of a snobbery with huh-white instead of white. I also never determined if a certain name was Newsome or Newshum [...]

    7. In New York Burning, Jill Lepore traces the history of the slave rebellion in New York City in 1741 and argues that New Yorkers’ fears of slave conspiracies functioned as a sort of shadow political party, checking the actions and power of legitimate politicians and courts. This is not so much about the conspiracy itself (which may not have existed, or may have been greatly exaggerated), but the investigation and legal consequences, which resulted in a number of black men and women being execut [...]

    8. The history is terrific, vivid and filled with the complexity of 1741 New York - a small place with many tensions. Reading the author's notes in the Appendices and Footnotes allows you to follow how she developed her data and used current technology (databases, Arc Info) to assist in tracing patterns of residents and activities in the city. She also writes about comparing sources (i.e "Horsmanden's Journal", with data derived from census and tax lists, letters and other reports.) It gives fascin [...]

    9. A nonfiction book about the 1741 slave rebellion in NYC. Or, well, the supposed 1741 slave rebellion in NYC; as Lepore repeatedly points out, there's not good proof that any sort of rebellion actually existed, and the over 200 people charged (91 ended up either exiled or sold, 21 were hanged, and 13 burned at the stake) were probably guilty of nothing more than muttering about their owners and the rich men of the city.To start at the beginning: in the spring of 1741, about ten fires sprang up in [...]

    10. As much as I liked In the Name of War, I really disliked this book. Like the Thistlewood diary, apparently there was a rush on the Horsmanden account, and Lepore with her weight got there first. Like Name of War, Lepore boldly asserts that the NY conspiracy trials were the origins of something important American pluralism. She bases this off the Zenger trial of 1735 which established a precedent for freedom of the press. She extends this to the fires of 1741, arguing that the ruling court party [...]

    11. I found this history fascinating and extremely well researched, but also a bit confusing, perhaps because I read it at night, over a long stint, and forgot many details between reads. I guess the events themselves were a bit confusing, too. I certainly learned a lot about life in New York in the 1740s, and became more aware of slave owning there--I suppose it is naive but it had not occurred to me that New Yorkers ever owned slaves.

    12. An excellent historical account missing from the history books of our youth. It reminded me of the Salem witch trials.

    13. I'm not exactly sure what to make of this. It reads more as a mystery novel (ironic considering Lepore calls the trial-record one of the first mystery novel templates) than as a history. The topic is fascinating, but Lepore keeps doubling back and adding additional threads. I'm still not clear on what the ultimate conclusion should be I would prefer the book to be a little more direct about what happened, rather than laying things out like a mystery with additional clues added in as the story pr [...]

    14. In 1741 a string of burglaries troubled the city of New York, followed by the outbreak of mysterious fires. Arrests for the thefts led to confessions under torture and tales of a conspiracy. A spreading web of accusations led to the arrest of twenty whites and a hundred and fifty two slaves, many implicated in what prosecutors described as a plot among the city’s slaves to engulf it in flames, kill their masters and make one of their number the governor. In her 2005 work New York Burning Jill [...]

    15. The author could sometimes be hard to follow with how it seemed to jump around to a lot of different people, names, and situations. To me it is important to see that the civil rights issue was not just a southern issue and that even in the liberal city of New York that civil rights were very much denied to people there also.

    16. This is one of the most amazing books I've come across in recent memory. Lepore has long been one of my favorite staff writers for the New Yorker; this is the first book of hers I've read & thus my first real encounter with the full scope of her talents. the ostensible subject is a brutal, bloody, & largely forgotten incident in american history: a suspected slave revolt in new york city in 1741 & the resulting frenzy of trials and executions that left thirty people dead (many more t [...]

    17. Well-researched and argued account of a series of fires in Manhattan in 1741 that were attributed to New York’s slaves but also matched various historical social-hysteria events in many ways, like the Salem Witchcraft Trials and the panics that ripped through the South in the wake of a real slave rebellion. The event reveals much about contemporary values and views, political realities, the practice of law at the time (with some relevant insight on the use of torture and its success at getting [...]

    18. A description of slavery in colonial New York in the early mid-1700s, where whites lived in fear of slave uprisings. Arrests for burglary followed by a series of 10 fires led to confessions under torture of a "Negroe Plot" to burn the city and murder the inhabitants. For any accused slaves or whites, confessions and naming names were the only possible way to avoid the stake or the gallows.While everyone knows they burned witches in Salem, few are told about the burning of 13 slaves in New York i [...]

    19. If there was a way to give it 4.5 stars, I would, because the book is not perfect. But, it is better than a lot of works out there. Lepore certainly knows how to write a gripping narrative full of suspense. The amount of research and creative thinking about how the limited, and yet for the time period wealth, of information about the conspiracy/conspiracies that Lepore did is outstanding and remarkable. That is by far her most impressive part of the work and I will never look at colonial New Yor [...]

    20. This is extremely dry,difficult book about an absolutely fascinating subject. A real or imaginary slave revolt in NYC in the 1740's. I slogged through the book on Kindle and found that my inability to refer to the author's notes while reading greatly reduced the effectivness of the story. Lepore has constructed a close approximation to what went on in 1740 despite having a dearth on solid information. Dozens of slaves were hanged or burned at the stake in Manhattan after a series of mysterious f [...]

    21. My wife listened to this audio book while on a road trip.The title intrigued me. Lepore's story appears to be written from historical records she studied, about a 1741 time in New York when the city had 10000 people and 2000 of them were slaves, during the British rule in colonial America.This is decidedly written from an anti-slavery perspective. Another story of man's inhumanity to man, this time how the British legal system in New York City extracted 'confessions' from slaves after numerous b [...]

    22. A series of suspicious fires in New York City in 1741 leads to a Salem-like witch hunt, except that in this case it's slaves and free blacks, and later, Irish Catholics who suffer from runaway accusations and a wave of executions. What I liked about this book was that it offered an interesting look at how the city functioned in 1741, when it was still confined to a small area at the southern tip of Manhattan Island. I also liked getting a sense of how the justice system worked in that time and p [...]

    23. Jill Lepore is my favorite historian. In every book, she looks at the evidence, and looks at the times, looks at the culture and tries to fill in the blanks. She does an amazing job.Harvard professor, doctorate from Yale, staff writer for the New Yorker, and an author who wins every prize in her genreis book was instructive: I had no idea that New York was second only to South Carolina based on the number of slaves to whites. Lepre draws a comparison between the words liberty and slavery as used [...]

    24. Another bit of "hidden history", this time the bitter slave insurrection of 1741 in New York City, a city in the early 18th century of 8,000 multi-cultural free inhabitants, (Dutch, Jews, Portuguese, Spanish and English) with an additional 2,000 slaves who lived in an almost medieval system of deprivation and forced servitude. The British administration in 1741 was bedeviled by a series of mysterious fires and killings that came about from a plot hatched among slaves and prostitutes and the "low [...]

    25. Lepore tells us of the fascinating and long forgotten story of slavery in New York City in the 18th century. Most people never have heard or imagined the connection between Zenger and the slave riots and suppressions in New York City. Most people do not realize that slaves supposed to be plotting were arrested, probably tortured and punished severely. Lepore's careful statistical manipulations and searches have yielded the following numbers: Out of 147 persons named, 57 were not found, not accus [...]

    26. This book gave a detailed description of a supposed slave plot to burn down NYC that turned into a wicked court trial where 30+ men and women were burned or hanged in retaliation. A great look into NYC circa 1741, when 1/5th (who knew?!?!) of the NYC were slaves. Using journals and court transcripts, Lepore pieces together many different threads to shine light on the powerful, religious white men that altered records and accepted faulty testimony in much the same way the Salem witch trials were [...]

    27. I was really looking forward to this book but once I started the author was so confusing that I just didn't really enjoy it. It had some interesting points but they were hard to find among on the confusion. She kept going back and forth through the event she was talking about and then past events and then this character and then that characterry hard to follow what her main arguement was. And then the end just made me upset with this whole "there is racism because of the white people" arguement [...]

    28. A triumph of historical passion. Lepore puts you right in the thick of heavy moral upheaval in New York City of the early 1700's. While I have only read a few history authors, I give highest praise to this one, and I wonder how anyone could do better. The story of how hysteria and racism led to court-ordered torture and mass executions in 1741 relates to our current disturbed and troubled times. Thorough historical research and impeccable literary skill have made this book an unforgettable exper [...]

    29. I knew absolutely nothing about these events before picking up this book and I was quickly taken into a maelstrom of Caribbean slave revolts, mysterious fires, black masonic lodges, alleged Spanish and priest ridden catholic conspiracies, and a rapidly expanding list of suspects and informers that began to turn people’s minds to comparisons with the Salem witch trials. A thoughtful and very well researched and documented account of a little known piece of history that is crying out to be turne [...]

    30. I couldn't have been reading this book at a more appropriate time given the Trayvon Martin/Zimmerman trial and the horrible verdict that further illustrates that the more things change the more they stay the same. The similarities between Horsmanden's mocking of the accused slave Cuffee's dialect in 1741 mirrors what the Zimmerman defense said mockingly to Rachel Jeantel in 2013. It's truly baffling to me that history repeats itself in this manner. What will it take, or will it ever come to be, [...]

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *