The Sewing Girl’s Tale By John Wood Sweet

  • Narrated by: Gabra Zackman
  • Length: 11 hrs and 6 mins
  • Release date: 07-19-22

The Sewing Girl’s Tale By John Wood Sweet AudioBook Summary

Renowned historian John Sweet offers a riveting Revolutionary Era drama of the first published rape trial in American history and its long, shattering aftermath, revealing how much has changed over two centuries—and how much has not.

On a moonless night in the summer of 1793, a crime was committed in the back room of a New York brothel—the kind of crime that even victims usually kept secret. Instead, seventeen-year-old seamstress Lanah Sawyer did what virtually no one in US history had done before: she charged a gentleman with rape.

Her accusation sparked a raw courtroom drama and a relentless struggle for vindication that threatened both Lanah’s and her assailant’s lives. The trial exposed a predatory sexual underworld, sparked riots in the streets, and ignited a vigorous debate about class privilege and sexual double standards. The ongoing conflict attracted the nation’s top lawyers, including Alexander Hamilton, and shaped the development of American law. The crime and its consequences became a kind of parable about the power of seduction and the limits of justice. Eventually, Lanah Sawyer did succeed in holding her assailant accountable—but at a terrible cost to herself.

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