In the early 1700’s, New York had the second largest slave populations of any England’s colonies next to Charleston, North Carolina. Slavery in New York was different from some of the other colonies because there were no large plantations. Enslaved Africans lived near each other making communication among them easy. The enslaved blacks also live among free blacks. Slaves in New York could plan an uprising more easily than enslaved Africans on plantations.
Enslaved Africans in New York were kept under abusive and harsh conditions, and naturally resented their harsh treatment.
On April 6, 1712 at midnight, between twenty-three and Fifty enslaved Africans gathered to start a revolt. They armed themselves with guns, hatchets, and swords. They set fire to an outhouse on Maiden Lane Near Broadway.
White colonist race to the scene and tried to put the fire, the armed Africans then shot and attacked the white colonist trying to put out the flames. In result 9 whites were killed and 6 whites were injured.
The Next day, the Governor ordered the New York and Westchester militia to regain order in the state. The militia arrested seventy blacks. Six are reported to have committed suicide before they were apprehended. Out of the Seventy that were arrest only twenty-seven were put on trial, and twenty-one were convicted and sentence to death and only one was executed on a breaking wheel ( The breaking wheel, also known as the Catherine wheel or simply the wheel, was a torture device used for breaking the criminal’s bones/bludgeoning him to death).
The New York Assembly, following the slave revolt, passed a law called:
“An Act for the suppressing and punishing the conspiracy and insurrection of Negroes and other Slaves”
|“An Act for the suppressing and punishing the conspiracy and insurrection of Negroes and other Slaves.” The law authorized slave owners “to punish their slaves for their Crimes and Offences at Discretion, not extending to Life or Member.” Slaves found guilty of murder, rape, arson, or assault were to “suffer the pains of Death in such manner and with such circumstances as the aggravation or enormity of their Crimes…shall merit and require.” The law also prohibited free blacks (“an Idle slothfull people”) from owning real property. Finally, the law effectively ended the practice of freeing slaves by requiring any owner manumitting a slave to pay £200 to the government and
a £20 annuity to the freed slave.”
The enslaved Africans were also not permitted to gather in groups of more than three, not to carrying a firearm, and gambling was outlawed.