Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Slavery in New York

White Northerners have been all too happy to condemn the South for slavery, they seemed to have forgotten their own past.

New York engaged in a vigorous slave trade. By 1741, two thousand of the twenty thousand inhabitants were black. fearing slave uprisings citizens of New York engaged in burning male slaves on bonfires in order to interrogate them about a feared conspiracy. 

Witchhunt in New York: The 1741 rebellion PBS

 In 1741, New York City burned thirteen African-American men at the stake on charges of planning a slave revolt. Seventeen more were hanged. Slaveholders sold away many others to countries ranging from Canada to Portugal to the Caribbean islands.~ African-American Men Burned at the Stake in America

 As the spectacle of the Salem witch trials played out in Massachusetts in 1692, concluding with the execution of 20 innocents, New Yorkers, indulging a finer sense of civilization, condemned the hysterical confessions and lethal injustice of their New England cousins. All the more stunning, then, that half a century later, New York underwent its own bout of hysteria, outstripping Salem in both body count and self-righteous malice. In 1741, a "witch hunt" in Manhattan put 30 slaves and four whites to death by gibbet and burning at the stake.

 The New York Conspiracy of 1741 (History Now) Has questions for discussion. 

In March and April of 1741, a series of ten fires erupted in Lower Manhattan, the most significant one within the walls of the fort at the southern tip of the island, the center of power in the British colony of New York. A plot was uncovered: Slaves, together with some downtrodden whites, were found to have conspired to burn down the whole city and murder the white population. Arrests were made: 152 blacks and twenty whites. A trial was held; people were convicted and sentenced. Thirty black men were hanged or burned at the stake; two white men and two white women were hanged. The bodies of two supposed ringleaders, one black and one white, were gibbeted, the corpses left to rot for weeks on public display. One resident called the episode the “Bonfires of the Negros.”

Trials Relating to the New York Slave Insurrection, 1741 (Historical Society of New York Courts)

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