Early American Crime Books
- Bound with an Iron Chain: The Untold Story of How the British Transported 50,000 Convicts to Colonial America by Anthony Vaver.
- American Homicide by Randolph Roth.
- Between the Lines: Banditti of the American Revolution by Harry M. Ward.
- Crime And Punishment In American History by Lawrence M. Friedman.
- Crime and Punishment in Early Maryland by Raphael Semmes.
- Curious Punishments of Bygone Days by Alice Morse Earle.
- Eighteenth-Century Criminal Transportation: The Formation of the Criminal Atlantic by Gwenda Morgan and Peter Rushton.
- Emigrants in Chains: A Social History of Forced Emigration to the Americas of Felons, Destitute Children, Political and Religious Non-conformists, Vagabonds, Beggars and Other Undesirables, 1607-1776 by Peter Wilson Coldham.
- A History Of Newgate Of Connecticut, At Simsbury, Now East Granby: Its Insurrections And Massacres (1860) by Richard H. Phelps.
- Laboratories of Virtue: Punishment, Revolution, and Authority in Philadelphia, 1760-1835 by Michael Meranze.
- Murder in New York City by Eric H. Monkkonen.
- Murder Most Foul: The Killer and the American Gothic Imagination by Karen Halttunen.
- Naked Quaker: True Crimes and Controversies from the Courts of Colonial New England by Diane Rapaport.
- Pillars of Salt: An Anthology of Early American Criminal Narratives by Daniel E. Williams.
- Pillars of Salt, Monuments of Grace: New England Crime Literature and the Origins of American Popular Culture, 1674-1860 by Daniel A. Cohen.
- The Pirate Hunter: The True Story of Captain Kidd by Richard Zacks.
- The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down by Colin Woodard.
- Troubled Experiment: Crime and Justice in Pennsylvania, 1682-1800 by Jack D. Marietta and G. S. Rowe.
- Twice Condemned: Slaves & the Criminal Laws of Virginia, 1705-1865 by Philip J. Schwarz.
- Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life Among the Pirates by David Cordingly.
- White Cargo: The Forgotten History of Britain’s White Slaves in America by Don Jordan and Michael Walsh.
- Witches, Rakes, And Rogues: True Stories of Scam, Scandal, Murder, And Mayhem in Boston, 1630-1775 by D. Breton Simons
My book about convict transportation from Great Britain to colonial America.
Roth presents the most comprehensive historical analysis of murder in America to date.
During the American Revolution, roaming gangs known as banditti engaged in wanton pillaging and highway robbery around the war zones. Ward examines the most prominent and representative of these banditti gangs and their leaders.
Friedman outlines the history of the criminal justice system in the America, starting from the seventeenth century up to the present. The book is comprehensive in approach and is an excellent start for researching the history of crime in the United States.
Semmes provides a comprehensive look at crime in 17th-century Maryland.
Earle catalogs early American crimes and their punishment.
The authors study convict transportation to America from the northern and western circuits of England.
Coldham examines the convicts who were transported from Great Britain to the American colonies, as well as the system of law and punishment that gave rise to the practice, the business of transportation, the conditions on board the ships, and the circumstances they faced once they arrived in America.
Phelps covers the history of the first state prison in the United States, where prisoners were confined underground in an abandoned copper mine. The prison is now a National Historic Landmark and State Archaeological Preserve.
Meranze uses Philadelphia to study the transformation of punishment based on corporal and public display to one based on penitence in solitary confinement.
Monkkonen studies 200 years of New York City homicides by examining coroner inquests, tabular summaries, newspaper articles, and health department summaries.
In her study of murder narratives in the nineteenth century, Halttunen notes a shift away from the execution sermons of early eighteenth-century America and their concern with the religious state of the offender’s soul and towards the more secular journalistic stories, criminal biographies, and transcripts of murder trials in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century.
Rapaport highlights crimes and trials from colonial New England.
Unfortunately, this book is currently out of print.
Cohen looks at the development of crime literature in New England and the ministers, lawyers, criminals, journalists, booksellers, and printers who competed for the public’s attention.
Zacks tries to uncover the truth behind the alleged piracy of Captain Kidd.
Woodard chronicles the rise of piracy in the Caribbean and how the spirit of democracy on board pirate ships pointed towards the American Revolution.
The authors argue that Pennsylvania was a hotbed of crime in early America, despite its reputation as a “Peaceable Kingdom.”
Schwarz examines the separate slave code that Virginia first developed in 1705 and follows its effect in the courts until 1865.
Beginning with an overview of the portrayal of pirates in popular culture, Cordingly compares these fictional representations with the reality of pirates, focusing his attention on the heyday of piracy between 1650 and 1725.
Jordan and Walsh cover the history of 170 years of white slavery in America, which includes indentured servitude and convict transportation.
Simons recounts crimes and criminals from Boston’s early history.
Find other related books about early American crime:
More Books on Crime History
- Bandits by Eric Hobsbawm.
- The Cambridge Companion to Crime Fiction edited by Martin Priestman.
- Child Murder and British Culture, 1720-1900 by Josephine McDonagh.
- City of Dreadful Delight: Narratives of Sexual Danger in Late-Victorian London by Judith R. Walkowitz.
- Convict Maids: The Forced Migration of Women to Australia by Deborah Oxley.
- Crime and Punishment in England, 1100-1990: An Introductory History by Briggs, John, Christopher Harrison, Angus McInnes, and David Vincent.
- Crime and Society in England 1750-1900 by Clive Emsley.
- Crime in Seventeenth-Century England: A County Study by J. A. Sharpe.
- Crime, Justice, and Discretion in England 1740-1820 by Peter King.
- Daughters of Joy, Sisters of Misery: Prostitutes in the American West, 1865-90 by Anne M. Butler.
- Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison by Michel Foucault.
- The Fatal Shore: The Epic of Australia’s Founding by Robert Hughes.
- The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders, & C. by Daniel Defoe.
- The Gunfighter: Man or Myth? by Joseph G. Rosa.
- Gunfighters, Highwaymen, and Vigilantes: Violence on the Frontier by Roger McGrath.
- The Hanging Tree: Execution and the English People 1770-1868 by V. A. C. Gatrell.
- Imagining the Penitentiary: Fiction and the Architecture of Mind in Eighteenth-Century England by John Bender.
- The London Hanged: Crime and Civil Society in the Eighteenth Century by Peter Linebaugh.
- The Oxford History of the Prison: The Practice of Punishment in Western Society edited by Norval Morris and David J. Rothman.
- Policing and Punishment in London, 1660-1750: Urban Crime and the Limits of Terror by J. M. Beattie.
- Reconstructing the Criminal: Culture, Law, and Policy in England, 1830-1914 by Martin J. Wiener.
- Tales from the Hanging Court by Tim Hitchcock and Robert Shoemaker.
- Women, Crime, and the Courts in Early Modern England edited by Jennifer Kermode and Garthine Walker.
Hobsbawm tackles the idea of the social bandit: robbers whose actions are not considered clear acts of crime and in some cases serve as heroes to disenfranchised groups of people.
This edited collection presents a comprehensive overview of crime fiction, beginning with the eighteenth century. Some of the topics include the Newgate novel of the 1830s and 1840s, French crime fiction, the private eye, the thriller, post-war British crime fiction, women detectives, and crime in film and on TV.
Against the backdrop of court records, newspaper accounts, and other historical records, McDonagh explores the treatment of infanticide in law, economics, medicine, and literature.
Walkowitz analyzes representations of sexual danger in nineteenth-century London, examining newspapers, journals, legal and medical treatises, and literature. The case of Jack the Ripper looms in the background throughout her analysis, since the notoriety of this case had widespread political, legal, and cultural implications.
Oxley examines the lives and backgrounds of female convicts who were transported to Australia and shows their important role in the establishment of the colony.
A general survey of the history of crime, punishment, and criminal justice in England from the Middle Ages up to 1990.
Emsley seeks to discover how people perceived patterns of crime in 18th- and 19th-century England, what patterns were actually at work, who committed the crimes, and how people tried to prevent crime.
Sharpe studies the assizes and quarter sessions from 1620-1680 in the county of Essex, covering crimes considered less serious–drinking offenses, sex crimes, and popular disturbance–to those seen as more serious, which involved property and violence.
King takes a close look at property crime, the most problematic crimes in the eighteenth century, and the administration put into place to manage the capture and prosecution of criminals.
Butler seeks to lay aside notions of the prostitute in the West as an accepted community member, who inhabited the local saloon and provided fun and entertainment for the clientele.
Foucault’s book opens with a memorable passages describing in gruesome detail the 1757 execution of a man convicted of regicide and contrasts it with an account with a precise timetable of activities meant to regulate the behavior of young inmates housed in a prison written eighty years later. He uses the stark differences between the two to show how punishment was redistributed within a relatively short time to work on the mind rather than on the body.
Hughes brings to light the experience of convicts who were transported from Great Britain to Australia, paying close attention to the voices of the convicts themselves.
The story of Moll Flanders, who was “born in Newgate, . . . was Twelve Year a Whore, five times a Wife (whereof once to her own Brother), Twelve Year a Thief, Eight Year a Transported Felon in Virginia, at last grew Rich, liv’d Honest, and died a Penitent.”
Rosa attempts to separate legend from history in his book about the gunfighter of the American West.
Setting out to discover if the Wild West was as violent as portrayed in movies and on television, McGrath examines cases of violence and lawlessness and finds that some of our long-held views about the West were indeed false, and some of what we thought to be myths were in actuality true.
Gatrell recounts the horrors surrounding public execution during the years before it was abolished in England in his examination of diaries, broadsides, images, and literature.
Bender argues that crime literature in the eighteenth century simulates the regulatory effect of the Panopticon–a circular prison where prisoners as meant to feel as though they are always being watched–in the way it addresses the reader, thereby creating the conditions for conceptualizing new institutions that control social behavior.
Linebaugh examines accounts of criminals that circulated among the public to show how the poor were forced into lives of crime in order to survive, as capitalism drove common people to the cities and into wage labor.
This book serves as a general introduction to and rich overview of the history of prisons, covering such topics as prisons in early modern Europe and the United States, the convict colony of Australia, prisons for women, and juvenile reform schools.
Beattie explores the pressure on London to deal with a perceived increase in crime, resulting in new forms of punishment, such as transportation and confinement with hard labor.
Wiener shows how Victorian notions of the criminal requiring discipline were replaced by conceptions of the criminal as a product of social structures, who therefore required more therapeutic punishments.
Hitchcock and Shoemaker use the published trials at the Old Bailey in London from 1674 to 1834 to present a history of crime that focuses on the lives of common criminals.
This collection of essays looks at the position of women in the context of crime in early modern England. Some of the topics include slander, theft, witchcraft, and scolds.
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