The Mayflower Murderer and Other Forgotten Firsts in American History

Peter Stevens, Author William Morrow & Company $20 (272p) ISBN 978-0-688-11818-1
This pop history by a frequent contributor to American Heritage spotlights 25 pioneers in various fields, with an emphasis on women and a nod to African Americans. Opening with an account of the only troublemaker to arrive on the Mayflower , John Billington, hanged 10 years later for killing a fellow pilgrim, the book goes on to the first feminist, who demanded the vote in 1648; the first white and first black ``poetesses'' to publish--Massachusetts settler Anne Bradstreet (1619-1672) and Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784), who was brought to Boston on a slave ship; the first American counterfeiter, a woman shrewd enough to escape punishment; the first female humorist; the first elected female senator--``widow woman'' Hattie Wyatt Caraway (D-Arkansas), who won a special election in 1933 to serve out her husband's term. There are also tales of the first black clergyman to preach to a white congregation and of the inventor of chewing gum. Fun to read, the book offers numerous interesting footnotes to the story of our past. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/04/1993
Release date: 01/01/1993
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