Mayflower Murderer

Mayflower Murderer

by Peter F. Stevens
     
 

In the woods near Plymouth, a matchlock musket roared. A hunter's quarry crumpled to the forest floor. But the prey was not some wild turkey or other woodland animal. John Newcomen was on the ground, blood streaming from one of his shoulders. Another man disappeared with his smoking musket into the forest. His name was John Billington, and he was about to become… See more details below

Overview

In the woods near Plymouth, a matchlock musket roared. A hunter's quarry crumpled to the forest floor. But the prey was not some wild turkey or other woodland animal. John Newcomen was on the ground, blood streaming from one of his shoulders. Another man disappeared with his smoking musket into the forest. His name was John Billington, and he was about to become America's first murderer. The story of John Billington, the killer pilgrim, is just one of many that history teachers seem to have forgotten over the years. How about the first American pirate? The first Jewish American to give his life for American independence? The first black minister? The man who invented chewing gum? And how could we forget that the first woman to demand the right to vote did so in 1648 - and got it! A great many historical firsts happened far earlier than people assume, and twenty-five of the best stories are collected here in The Mayflower Murderer and Other Forgotten Firsts in American History. Included is the story of One-eyed Charley Parkhurst, fearless stagecoach driver of the Old West, who single-handedly took on such famous bandits as Sugarfoot and Black Bart, despite the fact that Charley was a she! There's also the story of Tom Molyneux, the Virginia slave who earned his freedom in the boxing ring and went on to become the first African American to claim the undisputed heavyweight titles of both America and Great Britain. Author Peter F. Stevens has collected the greatest of these lost legends, including dozens of photographs and sketches. The characters range from senators and inventors to forgers and poets. In "resurrecting" these men and women so unjustly robbed of their historical due, Stevens has crafted an entertaining and thought-provoking look at these missing pieces of the American history puzzle.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This pop history by a frequent contributor to American Heritage spotlights 25 pioneers in various fields, with an emphasis on women and a nod to African Americans. Opening with an account of the only troublemaker to arrive on the Mayflower , John Billington, hanged 10 years later for killing a fellow pilgrim, the book goes on to the first feminist, who demanded the vote in 1648; the first white and first black ``poetesses'' to publish--Massachusetts settler Anne Bradstreet (1619-1672) and Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784), who was brought to Boston on a slave ship; the first American counterfeiter, a woman shrewd enough to escape punishment; the first female humorist; the first elected female senator--``widow woman'' Hattie Wyatt Caraway (D-Arkansas), who won a special election in 1933 to serve out her husband's term. There are also tales of the first black clergyman to preach to a white congregation and of the inventor of chewing gum. Fun to read, the book offers numerous interesting footnotes to the story of our past. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Jan.)
Library Journal - Library Journal
Stevens writes about U.S. history for several journals and suburban newspapers. Here he offers biographies of 25 of America's little-known ``trailblazers.'' Included are the first U.S. counterfeiter (Mary Butterworth, 1715) and black minister (Lemuel Haynes, 1785), as well as the producers of the first chocolate (John Hannon and Dr. James Baker, 1765), chewing gum (John Bacon Curtis, 1848), Christmas card (Louis Prang, 1875), and diet/health book (Dr. Lulu Hunt Peters, Diet and Health , 1918). The biographies are several pages in length and offer lots of facts in an entertaining narrative format. Notes and bibliography are appended. Recommended primarily for popular history collections.-- Deborah Hammer, Queens Borough P.L., New York
Denise Perry Donavin
Firsts in American history usually bring to mind a boat landing at Plymouth Rock or a bevy of white-wigged men signing the Declaration of Independence; but Stevens introduces many crooks, cooks, writers, boxers, builders, preachers, and others who have earned their place in the history of this land. Each of his 25 chapters features a little-known figure from the past, such as the Rocky of revolutionary America, a slave who won his freedom in a boxing match and went on to challenge the champion pugilist of England. As if to rectify the gap in many history books, women are featured prominently. A pilot, stagecoach driver, poet, and senator are among the other female firsts in this excellent anecdotal fare.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780688118181
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
01/28/1993
Edition description:
1st ed
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
6.42(w) x 9.53(h) x 1.11(d)

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