We Is Got Him: The Kidnapping that Changed America, by Carrie Hagen
In 1874, a young boy named Charley Ross was snatched from his front yard in Philadelphia. The child’s father received a letter that read: “Mr. Ross; be not uneasy you son charley bruster be all writ. we is got him and no powers on earth can deliver out of our hand. You wil have two pay us before you git him from us, and pay us a big cent to.”
Philadelphia had just won the bid to host America’s centennial celebration. The country had survived revolution, civil war, and recession, and city politicians were eager to prove the country had matured enough to survive another hundred years. What they couldn’t foresee was how a child’s kidnapping threatened to unravel social confidence and plunge a city into despair. Hagen expertly weaves this historical narrative as we see Philadelphia’s mayor fight to preserve his city’s stature, and watch the manhunt spread from Philadelphia to the streets of New York. Based on a tremendous amount of research, the author accurately captures the darker side of America–with its corrupt detectives, thief-catchers, spiritualists, and river pirates–as a country in which innocence had become an ideal of the past.