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The New York Conspiracy Trials Of 1741

856 words - 4 pages

In 1741 New York, New York was one of the largest ports in British North America. (Zabin, 7) The Dutch founded New York in 1624. The Dutch founded New York to be used as a trading post named New Amsterdam. (Zabin, 7) The first slaves were brought to New York in 1626. As time progressed, elite whites moved inward, away from the water. The land near the water and ports was inhabited by poor whites, sailors and slaves. In 1741 there was a fear of slave revolts that would happen in the city. Since whites and slaves were living among each other in these small neighborhoods, the threat was imminent. During 1741, there were a series of fires in the city. These fires were all thought to be arson. The elite of New York thought the fires were being set by poor whites and slaves in an attempt to burn down the city and take over. Was there really a conspiracy or were the elite new Yorkers worried for no reason?
The idea of a conspiracy began in February 1741. Three slaves robbed a small shop in New York belonging to Rebecca Hogg, a white woman. The shop was located along the docks of the East River in NYC. A white sailor told the three slaves that the shop was stocked with different types of goods. The three slaves stole money, cloth, luxury goods, snuff boxes and jewelry. Out of the three slaves, two of them, Prince and Cuffee, brought their items home. The third slave Caesar (John Gwin) brought the items he stole to a dockside tavern owned by John and Sarah Hughson. The Hughson’s were known to break the law either by buying stolen goods or selling alcohol to slaves. The sailor who told the slaves about Hogg’s shop told the police where the slaves took their stolen goods to be held. They arrested Caesar and then Prince. Both slaves denied any involvement in the theft. The Hughson’s indentured servant who was a young white woman by the name of Mary Burton told the police of the Hughson’s law breaking behavior. This led the police to arresting a lodger in the tavern, a young Irish white woman named Peggy Kerry. She was said to be Casers mistress and mother of his child. Two weeks after the robbery, there was a fire at Fort George. The governor’s Mansion was located here. The mansion caught fire. At first the fire was seen to be accidental, due to a spark from a plumbers soldering pipe. As quick as the first fire happened, other fires began to spread throughout...

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