By Charles Hoffmann
On New Year's Eve in 1843, Rhode Island cloth producer Amasa Sprague used to be shot and crushed to demise. inside days, 3 Irish immigrant brothers have been arrested, charged with homicide, and at last delivered to trial.
Brotherly Love is a photo reconstruction of the crime, its social and monetary historical past, and the next trials. the tale unearths the antagonism among native-born Yankees, who commanded nice energy, and the becoming variety of Irish Catholic immigrants, so much of whom labored within the fabric turbines. certainly, the commercial, political, and non secular dimensions of the clash are all obvious within the trials.
The authors argue persuasively that the Gordons have been sufferers of bigotry and circumstantial proof, serving as handy scapegoats to assuage a neighborhood outraged over the homicide of its wealthiest citizen. In telling the tale of this infamous case, Brotherly Love finds the politics of prejudice in nineteenth-century New England as performed out in neighborhood and court docket.
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Additional info for Brotherly love: murder and the politics of prejudice in nineteenth-century Rhode Island
He himself had been arrested by a sheriff's posse on his way home that day and imprisoned in a separate cell. He had attempted to talk to Nicholas in the office of the justice of the peace but had been restrained from doing so by the officers. The examination of the Gordon brothers and Michael O'Brien was held in secret. Former Attorney General Albert C. Greene appeared for the State, and Samuel Currey and John P. Knowles for the prisoners. John and William Gordon were committed for possible trial during the March term of the supreme court, following a grand jury investigation.
Part of Amasa's power and influence was based on a traditional hierarchical social orderthe paternalistic mill owner of old Yankee stock living in his mansion house surrounded by his "family" of workers living in boardinghouses or tied cottages near the mill, or even boarding at the mansion house itself. As Paul Goodman suggests in Towards a Christian Republic, the Spragues may have "pictured themselves as popular tribunes" as they sat down to meals with their employees "around an immense table at which Sprague [the father] presided"; 14 but like any other paternalistic mill system in Rhode Island there never was any doubt as to who was tribune and who plebian.
Knight had observed the open hostility between Gordon and Sprague at a town council meeting, and he had personally warned Amasa that Gordon was out to get him, but Amasa had laughed at him. 4 Stories about the hostility between Sprague and Gordon proliferated. " Somebody else conjectured that Nicholas had brought his brothers over in order to get revenge. Irish families were known to stick together: one brother's enemy would be the enemy of all the others. " 6 A "Whiteboy" was a member of an illegal association of Irish peasants formed in 1760 to resist their landlords' collection of taxes and tithes.