A List of White Persons taken into Custody on Account of the 1741 Conspiracy
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In 1744, a detailed account of the court proceedings that followed New York's 1741 revolt was published under the somewhat lengthy title, A Journal of the Proceedings in The Detection of the Conspiracy formed by Some White People, in Conjunction with Negro and other Slaves, for burning the city of New-York in America, and Murdering the Inhabitants. Written by Daniel Horsmanden, a judge at the trials, the book's intention was to furnish the reader "with the most natural view of the whole, and be better enabled to conceive the design and dangerous depth of this hellish project, as well as the justice of the several proceedings."
A quick glance at A List, which appears at the end of Horsmanden's book, reveals that shoemaker and alehouse keeper John Hughson, his wife Sarah, and Margaret Kelly were arraigned on June 2 and 4, convicted on June 4, and executed on June 12. John Ury, a priest, would also be found guilty by the courts and executed, bringing the total to four.
A similar list of "Negroes Committed on Account of the Conspiracy" reveals that eighteen blacks were hanged and thirteen were burned to death. More than seventy blacks and seven whites were banished from England's North American colonies as a result of the episode. Whites had grounds to be perpetually fearful of persons who were being detained without rights as chattel slaves, and these enslaved persons had constant provocation to consider all methods of resistance and rebellion. So in many instances of alleged revolt and widespread retribution, it is difficult to separate paranoid fears and actual plots, since both could occur at the same time.
Image Credit: by permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard University
Witchhunt in New York: The 1741 rebellion
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