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New York burning is a non-fictional historical record of events compiled in a single book written by Jill Lepore. The book elaborates the historical occasions of the year 1741 during which several black men and women were lynched, imprisoned and hanged because the whites feared the black rebellion. This book was first published in 2005, by a Pulitzer-Prize finalist, Knopf. This book stipulates and highlights hysteria and racial discrimination, violence and racial threats which dominated the political and social airwaves during the 18th century (Lepore, 2).
Lepore puts the events all together which was resulting in the execution of black people after the Manhattan inferno. Lepore explains each chapter by staring with words like ice and Fire which links each chapter with the related theme. This book begins by establishing the root of what was happening and finding the geographical points of concern. This analysis will evaluate the overview of the book, the methodology of the book and finally give the personal critical opinion after assessing the book.
The author is trying to convey a couple of ideas to her readers. She possess some arguments that helps the reader get the grasp of the theme.
First, she tries to argue what is the cause of slavery as she links it with the political aspects of the City. Secondly, she tries to bring in the aspect of racial discrimination in that there was distinction between the blacks and the whites. It is clear from the trials and convictions stipulated that the blacks are more associated with violence and crime as compared to the whites.
The author argues that rumors can result to danger in the city, if the government is believing in what rumors has, destruction can results and that is what the argues that there was some fear of uprising slavery. The author also presents the messy situation that existed in New York through the narration of these 18th century events. The author also brings in the aspect of slave-master relationship, during this time, it was the worst relationship ever.
However, lastly Lepore shows us that in any action consequences follows as there was some convictions and punishments of those who were found guilty. The author of the book identifies that New York City has transformed into a city of slavery. Over two hundred slaves are being alleged of conspiring to start the fire in each structure as well as assassinate the whites as the book reveals. Some men and women were sold for slavery in the Caribbean countries, and it is alleged that the leaders of the business were hanged and assassinated (Lepore, 7). Therefore, there were those men and women who were enslaved, and they conspired to indicate proof as there is worth of existence and excavation. This is because the plot of the slaves implied the casting of violence as it goes in parallel with the political environment. Ney York City was regarded as a dazzling city with fire sparks all over (Lepore, 12). In the year 1741, there were ten infernos across Manhattan.
In each fire, the whites wherein panicky that the flames could be a sign of uprising slavery condition. This lead to the convictions of black men whereby 13 of them got lynched, and 17 of them were hanged. The inciters who were the whites also were not spared, four of them were also attached to death. More than 100 black people were thrown into a chamber, underneath the City. Jill reports all the events in chronological order. She can recount the events that led to New York City to become the Bonfire of the Negroes. She recorded the harsh condition that the city was experiencing and how slavery almost destroyed the city. She indicates that the fear of black rebellion made the white political diversity palatable. During this time, slavery was a political issue, but as per the book, it seems that there was an exertion of dictatorial impact dealing with the political presence as the slaves were being suspected of plotting the whole event of fires (Lepore, 22). There was an occurrence of political parties, but there are also those months when there was political rivalry which led to the burning of black men in a rough indication. The first chapter, ice, starts at the end of the freezing and harsh winter. It is during this time of winter that the New Yorkers realized that there was uprising slavery in Charleston, South Carolina.
This, however, turns to be false but their rumors speak to the widespread fears and beliefs of a period. The New Yorkers were so quick to consider that they can blame their disaster on slave uprising. The readers of the book can learn the hard situation that was associated with the English immigrant called Daniel Horsmanden (Lepore, 131). Daniel is seen playing a critical role in sequences relating to violence and outbreaks of violence like fires that were experienced. Daniel shapes the past incidences of terrible actions that were encountered. Lepore successfully manages to control the minds of her readers in identifying the logical flow of the terrible actions on slavery that were experienced in New York City. There is Lepore’s expedition into the features of New York City that health and hygiene issues. Also the job routines of the imprisoned men. The author demonstrates a well-organized communication structure through a primary node at Comfort’s shining, combined by distinct slaves jointly.
In the book, Horsmanden is providing credibility that trouble conspired and faintly unlikely credit of the black people who were panicky to set the value of life (Lepore, 151). Horsmanden documents that Catholics had twisted in obligating as they were alleged proof of Catholic plan as embodied in the person of John Urey, who is just but another mediator that ordained duty for catastrophe in New York into all-embracing Catholic plan. Lepore has done a crucial work in demystifying Hormanden’s supreme manuscripts. She has tried to change how people believe about the history of New York City. These unlawful acts contributed to the limitation of civil liberties of black people. Additionally, in this book, Lepore can discover some religious timbre. A few slaves like the Kongo and Portuguese influenced Angola had a realized what Christianity is in the African region. Therefore, Lepore goes ahead of discussing the labor of Anglican catechist and how several Protestants were against the initiation of slaves as they feared that it could interfere with freedom of human beings as illustrated in religion believes (Lepore, 223).
In the end, Lepore does not make a definite suggestion of whether Horsmanden had the plot to have an endorsement on his diary, hover, there is little doubt that the action case was fake as the author shows reluctance on veracity among concessions in viewing that prosecutors have urge admission as the best way for suspect to run off for his fate. Lepore employs skillful utilization of sources by utilizing footnotes and anecdotes effectively. This is an approach that enables her to skillfully narrate the slavery that was happening in New York has been buried for years. Not many authors have tried to describe these events as Lepore does.
However, she faces a challenge in coming up with reliable sources (Baver, 34). In the whole story, there is only one clear and reliable source, which is the revelation of Daniel Horsmanden. This was the person who supervised the judicial department. He records the testimonies, trials, convictions and confessions. This tells the reader that the accounts testified in the story can be biased to some extent. This explains the reason why the author begins the story by describing the events that started in early 1741. Because this was the only reliable source, she could get the information form. With little to no evidence at all, Lepore goes on to discuss aspects of cultural, social, historical and political findings of that period to achieve the balanced analysis (Baver, 34). This is another reason why I find this author creative because she balances the events with the above factors to reveal and the reality of events and critical evaluation. In the process of analyzing the book, I found some aspects working out and others not working out for me.
In the first place, the book is well written, and the events are well organized for the reader to comprehend and follow what was happening in New York during the period of slavery. The thorough research enables the author to present the proceedings that contributed to the fires of the Negroes. The author provides a vivid account that is challenging and vibrant at the same time, making a suggesting New York City in its ethical shabbiness within the vision of liberty. Upon the ending of the book, 13 slaves are lynched and seventeen being dangled. Several hundred were locked in prisons, and the author argues that some slaves were plotting together with the masters of Masonic ceremonies and masquerade priests. In this book, Lepore is describing the dramatic events while breaking down the analysis to explore the social climate. Lepore points out that there was a danger brought in with the blacks was revolting the white pluralities of cultural panic and aggression.
However, I am not satisfied with the sources Lepore used. There was a lack of more sources to present more evidence and exploration of what exactly was happening. Therefore, Lepore herself is stating that it is difficult to get all answers as the book is only used as an inference based on the evidence that was collected. In general, the book is worthy to read more especially to those interested in civil rights and American history at large.
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