Essay The New York Conspiracy Trials

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Fear begets hate and hate begets violence. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the 1741 New York slave conspiracy trials. Much like the violence in the Salem Witch Trials, a set of natural circumstances coupled with the word of one or two people from a lower order of society caused hysteria and bloodshed. This case is flimsy by modern-day standards and is also very flimsy by the standards of the 1740s. The conspiracy rumblings began after a shop owned by Rebecca Hogg was robbed by two slaves. Then a rash of house fires, with four occurring in one day, unsettled the colony. These fires were most likely caused by soot filled chimneys and the man seen running from one of the burning buildings just might have been running for safety. …show more content…
However, what is not made clear is, if this were a conspiracy being hatched by people who actually had to potential to destroy an entire city, why would they have let the servant around. Her story also reportedly changed and became more embellished with every telling. It didn't matter because no matter how large or elaborate the lie, the white elite wanted to hear it as fact. At this time, slavery in New York was not uncommon. Slaves worked as household laborers and maids. Most of the slaves at this point were direct imports from West Africa. Differences in language and culture made whites very suspicious of the new slaves. It's been shown throughout history that whenever white elites are fearful of a situation, a flurry of laws follow to keep it in order. For instance, a law banning blacks to be outside after dark without a lantern put an end to the West African practice of night burials. Blacks were also forbidden from gathering in groups of more than three, and they could not purchase alcohol. Blacks were also barred from owning things like silks and other fine materials as well as jewelry and other fine metals. Blacks, however, found ways around these rules and often owned banned items and bought alcohol. The Hughsons were considered bad people because they were whites who helped blacks circumvent the laws. They fenced stolen goods, even though it was more often than not a form of pawn brokering. They also sold alcohol to whites and blacks

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