REVIEWS � 385 Egerton and Paquette say little about the possibility that the affair was an episode grounded primarily—and perhaps exclusively—in white paranoia and fear of racial violence. By their account, “no white notable in South Carolina in 1822 . . . doubted the existence of an insurrection- ary plot”; they debated only its extent and scope (xviii). The editors themselves unequivocally state their belief in the existence of a planned uprising in 1822, expressing their “considered judgment that the Vesey plot was one of the most sophisticated acts of collective slave resistance in the history of the United States” (xv). While that contention avoids some of the scholarly controversy surrounding the Vesey affair, Egerton and Paquette are right to emphasize that the conspiracy and the evidence produced in its aftermath offer an unparalleled window into the politics and attitudes surrounding racial slavery in the nineteenth-century U.S. and Atlantic world. For the most part, however, they allow the evidence they have collected and edited to speak for itself. As an increasing number and variety of primary sources are digitized and made available virtually, this kind of thorough and careful documen- tary editing has become more important than ever. The
Journal of the Early Republic – University of Pennsylvania Press
Published: May 21, 2019
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