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Snow-storm in August : Washington City, Francis Scott Key, and the forgotten race riot of 1835

by Morley, Jefferson.

Format: Print Book 2012
Availability: Available at 5 Libraries 5 of 5 copies
Available (5)
Location Collection Call #
CLP - Main Library Mezzanine - Non-fiction F198.M67 2012
Location  CLP - Main Library
Collection  Mezzanine - Non-fiction
Call Number  F198.M67 2012
Cooper-Siegel Community Library Non-Fiction 305.865 MOR
Location  Cooper-Siegel Community Library
Collection  Non-Fiction
Call Number  305.865 MOR
Penn Hills Library Non-Fiction 305.865 MOR
Location  Penn Hills Library
Collection  Non-Fiction
Call Number  305.865 MOR
Sewickley Public Library Nonfiction 305.896 MOR 2012
Location  Sewickley Public Library
Collection  Nonfiction
Call Number  305.896 MOR 2012
South Park Library Nonfiction 305.896 MOR
Location  South Park Library
Collection  Nonfiction
Call Number  305.896 MOR

A gripping narrative history of the explosive events that drew together Francis Scott Key, Andrew Jackson, and an 18-year-old slave on trial for attempted murder.

In 1835, the city of Washington pulsed with change. As newly freed African Americans from the South poured in, free blacks outnumbered slaves for the first time. Radical notions of abolishing slavery circulated on the city's streets, and white residents were forced to confront new ideas of what the nation's future might look like.

On the night of August 4th, Arthur Bowen, an eighteen-year-old slave, stumbled into the bedroom where his owner, Anna Thornton, slept. He had an ax in the crook of his arm. An alarm was raised, and he ran away. Word of the incident spread rapidly, and within days, Washington's first race riot exploded, as whites fearing a slave rebellion attacked the property of the free blacks. Residents dubbed the event the "Snow-Storm," in reference to the central role of Beverly Snow, a flamboyant former slave turned successful restaurateur, who became the target of the mob's rage.

In the wake of the riot came two sensational criminal trials that gripped the city. Prosecuting both cases was none other than Francis Scott Key, a politically ambitious attorney famous for writing the lyrics to "The Star-Spangled Banner," who few now remember served as the city's district attorney for eight years. Key defended slavery until the twilight's last gleaming, and pandered to racial fears by seeking capital punishment for Arthur Bowen. But in a surprise twist his prosecution was thwarted by Arthur's ostensible victim, Anna Thornton, a respected socialite who sought the help of President Andrew Jackson.

Ranging beyond the familiar confines of the White House and the Capitol, Snow-Storm in August  delivers readers into an unknown chapter of American history with a textured and absorbing account of the racial secrets and contradictions that coursed beneath the freewheeling capital of a rising world power.

" Snow-Storm in August is the sort of book I most love to read: history so fresh it feels alive, yet introducing me to a time and place that I had little known or utterly misunderstood. After reading Jefferson Morley's vibrant account, one can never hear 'The Star-Spangled Banner' the same way again."
--David Maraniss, author of Barack Obama: The Story

Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "The opening of mulatto former slave Beverly Snow's Epicurean Eating House in Washington City should have been a moment of national celebration. However, with the newly invented steam-driven cylinder press inundating the South with abolitionist tracts and Nat Turner's 1831 Southampton, Virginia, slave rebellion dominating the social discourse, even the most intriguing of Snow's culinary delights had no effect on the stifling environment of intolerance. When charges of attempted murder were brought against Ann Thornton's slave Arthur Brown, simmering tensions exploded, forcing many free blacks, such as Snow, to flee the capital of the Empire of Liberty. Morley's gripping, fast-paced narrative captures all the drama that encompasses a rich cast of characters that includes Andrew Jackson, Francis Scott Key, Roger Taney, Sam Houston, and a host of others who inhabited the young nation's capital. Morley makes it abundantly clear that, at this pivotal moment in the nation's history, the rule of law was buckling under the realities of a slaveholding democracy, in which chances of freedom were rapidly diminishing and the tribunal of Judge Lynch reigned supreme. Morley has given readers a noteworthy, insightful look into an often overlooked chapter in American history.--Odom, Brian Copyright 2010 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "On August 4, 1835, young slave Arthur Bowen, inebriated and angry after a night of conversation with other slaves seeking to end slavery, entered the bedroom of his sleeping owner, Anna Thornton, carrying an ax. Awakened and fearing Bowen intended to kill her, she raised an alarm. While passions were already running high in Washington, D.C., fueled by fears of a possible slave insurrection and unsettled feelings about slavery itself, a white mob attacked the highly successful restaurant of Beverly Snow, a free man of mixed race with a loyal following among whites for his sly sense of humor and impeccably cooked feasts. A young attorney, Francis Scott Key, already known for his poem "The Star-Spangled Banner," prosecuted the Bowen case, and Bowen was sentenced to death. But in a compelling twist of fate, Anna Thornton petitioned for Bowen's pardon, which President Andrew Jackson granted. In a crackling good tale of the deep impact of race and politics on a young nation struggling to create its identity, Salon Washington correspondent Morley (Our Man in Mexico: Winston Scott and the Hidden History of the CIA) boldly and elegantly recreates a moment in time when free black businessmen mingled with their white counterparts while proponents of slavery and abolitionists struggled to co-exist in the nation's bustling capital. Illus., map. Agent: req. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Key, Francis Scott, -- 1779-1843.
Bowen, Arthur, -- 1817?-
Thornton, Anna Maria Brodeau, -- 1775?-1865.
Race riots -- Washington (D.C.) -- History -- 19th century.
Free African Americans -- Washington (D.C.) -- History -- 19th century.
Slavery -- Washington (D.C.) -- History -- 19th century.
Trials (Attempted murder) -- Washington (D.C.)
Washington (D.C.) -- Race relations -- History -- 19th century.
Washington (D.C.) -- History -- 19th century.
Publisher New York :Nan A. Talese/Doubleday,2012
Edition 1st ed.
Language English
Notes Map on endpapers.
Description xii, 334 pages : illustrations, map ; 25 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 307-319) and index.
ISBN 9780385533379 (hbk.)
0385533373 (hbk.)
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