The Great Negro Plot : a tale of conspiracy and murder in eighteenth-century New York

by Johnson, Mat.

Format: Print Book 2007
Availability: Available at 3 Libraries 3 of 3 copies
Available (3)
Location Collection Call #
CLP - Homewood African American F128.4.J64 2007
Location  CLP - Homewood
Collection  African American
Call Number  F128.4.J64 2007
CLP - Main Library Mezzanine - Non-fiction F128.4.J64 2007
Location  CLP - Main Library
Collection  Mezzanine - Non-fiction
Call Number  F128.4.J64 2007
Northland Public Library Nonfiction 974.702 J63
Location  Northland Public Library
Collection  Nonfiction
Call Number  974.702 J63

In 1741, New York City was thrown into an uproar when a sixteen-year-old white woman, an indentured servant named Mary Burton, testified that she was privy to a monstrous conspiracy against the white people of Manhattan. Promised her freedom by authorities if she would only uncover the plot, Mary reported that the black men of the city were planning to burn New York City to the ground. As the courts ensnared more and more suspects and violence swept the city, 154 black New Yorkers were jailed, 14 were burned alive, 18 were hanged, and more than 100 simply "disappeared"; four whites wound up being executed and 24 imprisoned. Even as the madness escalated, however, officials started to realize that Mary Burton might not be telling the truth.

Expertly written by the acclaimed author of Drop and Hunting in Harlem , The Great Negro Plot is a brilliant reconstruction of a little-known moment in American history whose echoes still reverberate today.

Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "In 1741, some 30 years after a slave revolt in New York City, white citizens were frightened by a series of fires they feared had been set by rebellious slaves. A 16-year-old indentured servant fed those fears when she testified to personal knowledge of a conspiracy by slaves to burn Manhattan to the ground. The accusations by Mary Burton set off months of trials that eventually resulted in 18 black men hanged, 14 burned alive, and scores jailed. For their alleged complicity, 4 whites were executed and 24 imprisoned. Drawing on archival material for a detailed history, and a contemporary perspective, Johnson traces a strong line from the past to modern race relations and the easy hysteria that often leads to miscarriages of justice. Johnson probes the social hierarchy of eighteenth-century New York, the distances and commonalities produced by race and class. Johnson ( Hunting in Harlem, 2003) brings a critical eye and a lively narrative to retelling a fascinating chapter in American history. --Vanessa Bush Copyright 2007 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Novelist Johnson (Hunting in Harlem) convincingly re-creates New York City's stratified colonial society in 1741, while reinterpreting the only historical account of the rumored slave revolt, hysteria and kangaroo trial that led to the executions of many black New Yorkers. (The uprising was also chronicled in Jill Lepore's New York Burning.) Narrated by a modern-day black man who acts as defense attorney for the executed, this account painstakingly refutes Daniel Horsmanden's 1744 book, The New York Conspiracy, in which the trial's judge, prosecutor and court recorder sought to justify the jailing of about 160 Africans, the hanging of 18 and the burning of 13 more at the stake. Johnson's strength is his ability to breathe movement and motivation into Horsmanden's witnesses, though trotting out one intimidated witness after another bogs down the latter half of the narrative. He repeatedly drumrolls an unsurprising conclusion: that 18th-century New York really was a racist and ignorant backwater. Fans of historical fiction or readers interested in the impact of slavery on African-American identity today will enjoy Johnson's daring reconstruction. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Slave insurrections -- New York (State) -- New York -- History -- 18th century.
Conspiracies -- New York (State) -- New York -- History -- 18th century.
Murder -- New York (State) -- New York -- History -- 18th century.
New York (N.Y.) -- History -- Conspiracy of 1741.
New York (N.Y.) -- Race relations -- History -- 18th century.
New York (N.Y.) -- History -- Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775.
Publisher New York, NY :Bloomsbury :2007
Distributed to the trade by Holtzbrinck Publishers,
Edition 1st U.S. ed.
Language English
Description 215 pages ; 21 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 211-213).
ISBN 1582340994 (hardcover)
9781582340999 (hardcover)
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