The Hanging of Thomas Jeremiah; A Free Black Man's Encounter with Liberty

Format: Trade Paper
Pub. Date: 2011-02-22
Publisher(s): Yale University Press
List Price: $27.00

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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.

Author Biography

J. William Harris is professor of history at the University of New Hampshire. He is the author of The Making of the American South, Deep Souths (finalist for the 2002 Pulitzer Prize in history), and Plain Folk and Gentry in a Slave Society. He lives in Arlington, MA.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. ix
Prologue: Trialsp. 1
Liberty and Slavery
ôSlavery may truly be said to be the peculiar curse of this landöp. 7
ôThose natural and inherent rights that we all feel, and know, as menöp. 39
ôGod will deliver his own People from Slaveryöp. 63
Liberty's Trials
ôA plan, for instigating the slaves to insurrectionöp. 83
ôThe Young King was about to alter the World, & set the Negroes Freeöp. 100
ôDark, Hellish plotsöp. 119
ôJustice is Satisfied!öp. 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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