Sharon's Reviews > New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery, and Conspiracy in Eighteenth-Century Manhattan

New York Burning by Jill Lepore
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's review
Aug 01, 08

bookshelves: history
Read in August, 2008

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 in active part in that heritage. It's not clear from the evidence how widespread or organized the conspiracy in New York was (certainly not as large as feared by whites). But it does seem like something was going on. The Stono Rebellion, Vesey's Rebellion, Gabriel Prosser's Rebellion and other slave conspiracies and revolts should be acknowledged as steps on the road to revolution and liberty for all Americans.
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