The lecture was based on his book "Snow Storm in August: Washington City, Francis Scott Key, and the Forgotten Race Riot of 1835. The title of the publication is a reference to Beverly Snow, a former slave whose successful restaurant at Sixth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW was ransacked by a white mob driven by fears of a slave rebellion. The trials were prosecuted by the city's politically ambitious District Attorney, Francis Scott Key.
By 1835, freed African Americans in Washington outnumbered those still in bondage, and racial tensions were running high. On the night of August 4th, a drunken slave, Arthur Bowen, stumbled into the bedroom of his owner, Anna Thornton, carrying an ax. Although he did not attack or directly threaten her, the ensuing alarm precipitated a charge of attempted murder and ignited a race riot that engulfed the city for three days. In its aftermath, attorney, poet and slave-holder Francis Scott Key conducted prosecutions that do not reflect well on the “Star-Spangled Banner” author.
Snow-Storm in August author Jefferson Morley has worked as an editor and reporter for Salon, The Washington Post, The Nation, The New Republic and Harper’s Magazine.