The Great Negro Plot

The Great Negro Plot

A Tale of Conspiracy and Murder in Eighteenth-century New York

Book - 2007
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In 1741, New York City was thrown into an uproar when a sixteen-year-old white woman, an indentured servant named Mary Burton, testified that she was privy to a monstrous conspiracy against the white people of Manhattan. Promised her freedom by authorities if she would only uncover the plot, Mary reported that the black men of the city were planning to burn New York City to the ground. As the courts ensnared more and more suspects and violence swept the city, 154 black New Yorkers were jailed, 14 were burned alive, 18 were hanged, and more than 100 simply "disappeared"; four whites wound up being executed and 24 imprisoned. Even as the madness escalated, however, officials started to realize that Mary Burton might not be telling the truth.

Expertly written by the acclaimed author of Drop and Hunting in Harlem , The Great Negro Plot is a brilliant reconstruction of a little-known moment in American history whose echoes still reverberate today.

Publisher: New York, NY : Bloomsbury USA : Distributed to the trade by Holtzbrinck Publishers, 2007.
Edition: 1st U.S. ed.
ISBN: 9781582340999
Branch Call Number: 974.702
Characteristics: 215 p. ; 21 cm.


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Jrichson Jun 15, 2014

Author Mat Johnson's historically-based short summary novel is an amazing retelling of a little known, though powerfully-moving piece of African-American history in early New York City. It is also amazing that the text is derived from actual transcripts taken from the18th century slave trials.

Certainly a precursor to today's plea bargain system used for a vast majority of black and Latino males in the judicial system, it also harkens to the Red Scare period when the infamous House on Un-American Activities forced Hollywood to name names in order to get immunity from prosecution.

And with so many players involved, it's a wonder he was even able to keep all of the names of the parties straight. Definitely a well done job and labor of the heart.


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