Snow-Storm in August

Washington City, Francis Scott Key, and the Forgotten Race Riot of 1835
Snow-Storm in August: Washington City, Francis Scott Key, and the Forgotten Race Riot of 1835. Nan A. Talese: Doubleday. Jul. 2012. c.352p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780385533379. $28.95. HIST
Journalist Morley (Washington correspondent, Salon; Our Man in Mexico) presents the first book-length account of the 1835 Washington, DC, race riot that spotlighted the increasingly tense and complex relations among whites, free blacks, and slaves in the nation's capital. White rioters, enraged by freedom-seeking slave Arthur Bowen's attempted murder of his owner, took out their animosity on free blacks such as successful restaurateur and ex-slave Beverly Snow. Also caught up in the racial tensions in the aftermath of the Bowen incident was Reuben Crandell, a white Northerner charged with inciting slaves to revolt, and lawyer and author of the lyrics to "The Star-Spangled Banner," Francis Scott Key, who, as Washington, DC, district attorney, prosecuted both Bowen and Crandell.
VERDICT Morley convincingly fits the Bowen incident and its violent aftermath into the larger story of the growing antislavery movement. Unfortunately, his research leaves large gaps in the tale and includes far too much speculation to make it fully recommendable to an academic audience. History buffs, however, will likely be satisfied with this dramatic and well-written account of race relations in antebellum Washinton, DC, and the early days of the American abolitionist movement.
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