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

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

by J. William Harris
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

ISBN-10: 0300171323

ISBN-13: 9780300171327

Pub. Date: 02/22/2011

Publisher: Yale University Press

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.

Overview

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 whites—who resented his success as a Charleston harbor pilot—of 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 it—often violently—to others.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780300171327
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Publication date:
02/22/2011
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.60(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Prologue: Trials 1

Part I Liberty and Slavery

Chapter 1 "Slavery may truly be said to be the peculiar curse of this land" 7

Chapter 2 "Those natural and inherent rights that we all feel, and know, as men" 39

Chapter 3 "God will deliver his own People from Slavery" 63

Part II Liberty's Trials

Chapter 4 "A plan, for instigating the slaves to insurrection" 83

Chapter 5 "The Young King was about to alter the World, & set the Negroes Free" 100

Chapter 6 "Dark, Hellish plots" 119

Chapter 7 "Justice is Satisfied!" 136

Epilogue 152

Afterword: Thomas Jeremiah and the Historians 162

Abbreviations Used in the Notes 167

Notes 169

A Note on Sources 201

Acknowledgments 211

Index 215

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >