Orville Jenkins's Reviews > The Great Negro Plot: A Tale of Conspiracy and Murder in Eighteenth-Century New York

The Great Negro Plot by Mat Johnson
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it was amazing
Read 2 times. Last read January 7, 2017.

I bought this book at an Arlington Public Library annual sale in September 2016. It is the story about a series of events involving a supposed conspiracy of arson and rebellion by slaves and free Africans in New York Colony in the 1700s. The author provides a good social and political analysis of the colony and the times in the British colonies of that early era.

The ad hoc and prejudicial character of the rudimentary judicial system is a focal point in the events of that century in the relationship between the colonists, Dutch and English, and their slaves and the indentured servants, both white and black, and the free Africans who were in the colony.

Johnson walks us through the twists of the trial and the ever-growing names suggested as invovled in the plot. By the time the fearful and beleaguered accused finished making up names to add to their concocted stories, a whole host of slave and free, black and white, English, Spanish and Dutch were in custody, and a host convicted of death of a pure myth. It is amazing that this was a self-righteous and arrogant society that considered themselves enlightened, the cream of God's creation.

Paranoid fear, unbelievable ignorance and credulity, deep prejudice and frantic fear drove a conspiracy of the establishment and the supposed justice system to badger, pressure, and torture accused until they would make up stories to "confess" what the court wanted to hear, producing a creative body of false stories to satisfy the need.

This story out of the true history of the British colonies ranks with the Salem witch trials to present a picture of ignorant and paranoid brutality and incredible lack of thought in a cruel and brutish system. Among the punishments were roasting alive, and a festival of hanging under the haranguing pressure of a blood-thirsty public.

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Reading Progress

January 4, 2017 – Started Reading
January 4, 2017 – Finished Reading
January 6, 2017 – Shelved
Started Reading
January 7, 2017 – Finished Reading

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