Review by Choice Review
In 1741, after a burglary and series of fires in New York City, government officials, worried about a possible slave revolt, made more than 150 arrests and eventually executed more than three dozen people. In this slim volume targeting a general audience, Hoffer (Univ. of Georgia) enters a well-established debate about whether or not a real plan to revolt ever existed. The author concludes that a limited conspiracy did exist, but that it was blown out of proportion by an imbalance of legal power: slaves possessed few legal rights, and some even faced the stark choice of false confession or death. Hoffer is largely successful in making difficult or obscure concepts understandable to a general audience. At the same time, he makes an original contribution to our understanding of the events in 1741 by considering them within the context of the evolving legal system of the English Atlantic World, especially when he discusses the development of slave law in the colonies, and the gradual emergence of "conspiracy" as a criminal offence. Given the current "war on terrorism," this volume is timely and deserves the widest possible audience. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All levels and collections. S. Condon Adrian College
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