July 3, 2012
July 3, 2012
The riveting story of how the epic struggle over slavery first violently erupted in the seat of American government.
In 1835 the vast economic and social forces that engaged the City of Washington brought the issue of slavery to the fore. As newly freed African Americans from the South poured into the District of Columbia, free blacks outnumbered slaves for the first time, and white residents had to confront new ideas of what America might be. The issue came to a head on the night of August 4, 1835, when Arthur Bowen, an eighteen-year-old slave, stumbled home intoxicated, found an ax left in the basement stairwell, and entered the bedroom where his owner, Anna Thornton, slept. Within days, Arthur's drunken deed had provoked two near lynchings and Washington's first race riot. In its wake came two sensational criminal trials that gripped the city and a nation wracked by the issue of slavery.
The prosecutor in both cases was none other than Francis Scott Key, the famous lyricist of the national anthem, who, it is not widely known, then served as the city's district attorney. Key aggressively defended slavery until the twilight's last gleaming, and he pandered to racial fears by seeking to punish Arthur Bowen. His attempts were thwarted, improbably, by Arthur's ostensible victim, Anna Thornton, a respected socialite whose deceased husband had designed the U.S. Capitol and who may well have been Arthur's father. When Anna Thornton charmed President Andrew Jackson into considering her unlikely appeal, the result was tragedy for Key and an improbable victory for American justice.
Snow-Storm in August is an absorbing account of the racial secrets and contradictions that once coursed beneath the freewheeling capital of a rising world power.
- Genre: Social Science, Political Science, History
- Subgenre: Political Ideologies / Democracy, United States / 19th Century
- Language: English
- Author: Jefferson Morley
- Online Item #: 14074679
- Store Item Number (DPCI): 247-07-3800
- ISBN: 9780385533379
- Item can be gift wrapped.
- Made in the USA or Imported