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The New York conspiracy or A History of the Negro plot of 1741

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The New York conspiracy, or, A history of the Negro plot: with the journal of the proceedings against the conspirators at New-York in the years 1741-2 : together with several interesting tables containing the names of the white and black persons arrested on account of the conspiracy, the times of their trials, their sentences, their executions by burning and hanging, names of those transported, and those discharged : with a variety of other useful and highly interesting matter
New York: Southwick & Pelsue, Horsmanden, Daniel, 1810, 393  pgs. 
Preface to 2nd Edition - 1810
     The History of the Great Negro Plot in 1741, has always been a  subject of curiosity, and highly interesting to the citizens of New York.  Never having been republished, the work had become so extremely scarce that it was with the utmost difficulty a perfect copy could be obtained for  the present edition.
     After a lapse of nearly three quarters of a century, we look back with astonishment on the panic occasioned by the negro plot, and the rancorous hatred that prevailed against Oie Roman Catholics. To judge from tradition, and the "Journal of the Proceedings against the Conspirators," no doubt can be had of the actual existence of a plot; but its extent could never have been so great as the terror of those times depicted. The very mode adopted to discover abettors, by mutual criminations and confessions, tended, in the progress of the trials, to inculpate every negro slave in the city. We accordingly find that the number of conspirators daily increased.   As it was impossible to prove all equally guilty, the ringleaders only were executed, and those who, to save their lives, plead guilty and threw themselves on the mercy of the court, were transported.
     The city of New York, at this period, contained a population of about 12,000 souls, of which one-sixth were, in all probability, negro slaves. Insurrections and conspiracies were, at this juncture, frequent in the West India islands, and great apprehensions were entertained of an invasion by the French and Spaniards. These circumstances aggravated the horrors of a domestic plot to such a degree, that the white inhabitants, regarding every negro slave as an incendiary and an assassin, carried their apprehensions and resentments beyond all bounds.
     A holy hatred of the Roman Catholics was inculcated by church and state. Our Dutch forefathers, glowing with all the zeal of the early reformers, emigrated to this country, shortly after the emancipation of the United Netherlands from the Spanish yoke, and festered all the rancor of their race against papists and Spaniards. It was the policy of the English government, after the conquest, to cherish this animosity, and those of our readers, who were born and educated before the American revolution, will recollect how religiously they were taught to abhor the Pope, Devil and Pretender.
     In estimating this singular event in our, colonial history, the circumstances of the times should be duly considered, before we too hastily, condemn the bigotry and cruelty of our predecessors. The advantages of a liberal, indeed of the plainest education, was the happy lot of very few. Intercourse between the colonies and the mother country, and between province and province, was very rare. Ignorance and illiberal prejudices universally prevailed. Their more favored and enlightened posterity will, therefore, draw the veil of filial affection over the involuntary errors of their forefathers, and emulating their simple virtues, endeavor to transmit a brighter example to their successors.

New York, April 5th, 1810

Perhaps it may not come forth unseasonably at this juncture, if the distractions occasioned by this mystery of iniquity, may be thereby so revived in our memories, as to awaken us from that supine security, which again too generally prevails, and put us upon our guard, lest the enemy should be yet within our doors.  City of New York, 12th April, 1744 (ending paragraph of original preface)

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