6. Despite the Market, Slaves still Rebelled

slave-revolt-1741-Manhattan-NYC-Untapped Cities
Slave being burned at the stake after 1741 insurrection. Illustration via WikiCommons.

New York is home to two of the most gruesome slave rebellions in American history. The first occurred on April 6, 1712, when twenty-four African slaves gathered by the East River and started setting fires. They drove their slaveowners out of their homes and into a trap where they ambushed them. Although their initial plan did work, the magic powder they used to make themselves invisible did not. The next day they were captured in the nearby woods. Six of the Africans killed themselves immediately. Seventy black men were arrested, thirty-seven were indicted, twenty-three were convicted, and of the convicted, nineteen were executed. None received legal counsel.

Similarly, in April 1741, ten fires were set across Manhattan. The city erupted into hysteria and cried slave conspiracy. This time, the city rounded up two hundred slaves and accused them of conspiring. Under duress, eighty slaves confessed. Thirteen were burned at the stake, setting a horrific example of punishment. Seventeen were hanged and seventy more were shipped to the Caribbean where slaves conditions were so severe, the punishment was considered a death sentence.