An extraordinary year in which American democracy and American slavery emerged hand in hand
Along the banks of the James River, Virginia, during an oppressively hot spell in the middle of summer 1619, two events occurred within a few weeks of each other that would profoundly shape the course of history. In the newly built church at Jamestown, the General Assemblythe first gathering of a representative governing body in Americacame together. A few weeks later, a battered privateer entered the Chesapeake Bay carrying the first African slaves to land on mainland English America.
In 1619, historian James Horn sheds new light on the year that gave birth to the great paradox of our nation: slavery in the midst of freedom. This portentous year marked both the origin of the most important political development in American history, the rise of democracy, and the emergence of what would in time become one of the nation's greatest challenges: the corrosive legacy of racial inequality that has afflicted America since its beginning.
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About the Author
James Horn is the president of the Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation. He is author and editor of five books on colonial American history, including A Land As God Made It: Jamestown and the Birth of America and A Kingdom Strange: The Brief and Tragic History of the Lost Colony of Roanoke. He lives in Richmond, Virginia.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
AudioBook Review: Stars: Overall: 4 Narration 4 Story 4 Focused on the Jamestown colony established by the Virginia company along the banks of the James River, the tale here examines the first gathering of a group of citizens: landowners in good standing with the company and the colony, and their first steps to a representative governing body, all while the worst choice in those early days are heading to the shore in the form of a privateer taken by pirates and carrying the first slaves from Africa to the Americas. And this is actually why I grabbed this title – the moments when greed and profit overrode compassion, honor, morality and sense, and to see just why (or how) such a thing could happen. Jamestown is a quickly forgotten chapter in American History, and most only know it for the failures – not that the colony actually survived and thrived for near on 100 years, the first English settlement on what would become US Soil. Horn carefully presents the political and social dynamics, all intricately woven with commercial and financial interests, contrasting the model created here with the British influence with the Canadian model of a more trading-post style, or the Dutch settlements of New York, as the model here in Jamestown quickly outpaced the others in terms of success and wealth, and set a precedent that would reverberate for years to come in the America South, incorporating the tendency that humans have to look at those who are ‘different’ as something to be feared, dismissed or subjugated, as they are not ‘as worthy’ as those who come from the ‘discoverers and settlers’ of the lands. But, there were reasons, not all of them directly related to the “goodness’ or ‘evilness’ of the people in charge, but were responsible for things going horribly wrong nonetheless, if serving to provide a loose framework for the America we live in today. Mixing in a fairly easy-to-understand style with the occasional run on sentence, or moments and questions left unanswered after a focus on one particular person or moment or another, this isn’t a solidly “I have the answers” now book, but a gateway into a better understanding of a chapter in history that is often misunderstood. Narration for this story is provided by Dan Woren, and his voice clearly presents the information and moves listeners through the text without muddling up the works. There is a ton of information provided here, some opinions and plenty of moments that were real ‘I never knew” moments, all holding interest and furthering questions for more digging into points made or situations unearthed. While the book is fairly chronological, it starts to unravel a bit in the last quarter or so, which did require a bit more attention as the material was unfamiliar to me, but when I finished it the pieces mostly fell together, with only the lingering questions about what became of Sandys and some thinking on the lasting echoes of the choices made then that still are relevant to today’s climate. I received an AudioBook copy of the title from Hachette Audio for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
3.5 Stars 1619 is rich in detail, although sometimes dry. Sentences tended to run a little long, but I appreciated the excerpts and direct quotes the author used. Focusing largely on the Virginia Company and the years surrounding 1619, this book looks at social and economic issues strongly intertwined with religion (namely Christianity). Many subjects are examined, including the colonists interaction with natives, slavery, their relationship with the Bristish crown, and more. In the end Horn shows how it relates to and influenced modern day America. 1619 is well-written and (from what I can tell) thoroughly researched. Would recommend to any history buff.