Conspiracy Trials Race And Class Essay

927 words - 4 pages

Conspiracy: The act of secretly planning to do something that is harmful or illegal (Merriam-Webster). In the winter of 1741, a robbery and a rash of fires broke out in New York City; they were the beginning of what would become known as, “The New York Conspiracy Trials.” The trials, presided over by three Supreme Court Justices, Chief Justice James DeLancey, Second Justice Frederick Philipse and Third Justice Daniel Horsmanden, who three years after the trials published his journals from the court proceedings, so that, as he said, people would stop trying to convince themselves that there had been no conspiracy at all (Zabin 5).
New York City, in the first half of the eighteenth century, ...view middle of the document...

They were the primary place people gathered for warmth, community, and conversation.” (Zabin 25)
By 1741, New York City had a well established divide amongst its people. Economic status was one of the primary ways that New Yorkers separated themselves from each other, but, “ethnicity, race family, age, and gender combined with wealth, assisted in dividing its people further.” (Zabin 10) “Roughly eleven thousand people, many of whom were itinerant sailors, soldiers, and recent immigrants, New York was an excellent place for confidence tricksters, failed merchants and runaway servants” (Zabin 10) “When the city began to expand, the elite moved their homes (and those of their slaves) farther away from the water.” (Zabin 7)
“In comparison to slaves elsewhere, New York slaves, both men and women had limited freedom. They were able to move through the city as they worked. Because the slaves in New York City did not work on plantation, or in gangs, as they did in the south, the work places were mixed-raced workplaces. Most urban slaves performed either domestic or artisanal chores, as well as unskilled heavy labor. Slaves were occasionally able to hire themselves out, choosing their new master and pocketing some of the wages.” (Zabin 17) As historian Philip Morgan formulated, “New York was a society with slaves, rather than a slave society.”
New York City consisted of many classes, or ranks. The classes were broken down into, elite whites, indentured servants, free whites, free blacks and slaves. These distinctions were set and enforced by legal and social distinctions. “In fluid context, rank was often less self-evident than elites in particular might have hoped. The possibility for social confusion in New York drove authorities to try all the harder to strengthen...

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