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Today in History: A Slave Revolt in Manhattan

Posted by Gilbert Stack on April 6, 2019 at 7:25 AM

On this day (April 6) in 1712, two dozen black slaves in Manhattan armed themselves and gathered to make a bid for freedom. They set fire to a baker’s outbuilding and then attacked the white men who came to put out the fire. They killed eight of them and wounded seven others. The slaves then fled into the forest but most were rounded up the next day. Six chose suicide rather than be recaptured. It was the better choice.


Fearing a larger slave revolt, seventy black men were arrested on suspicion of being involved in the insurrection. All told 39 men were indicted and tried. None received legal counsel. 23 were convicted and 19 were sentenced to death.


Executions were supposed to be carried out in Manhattan by hanging, but Governor Robert Hunter wanted to use the executions to deter future slave insurrections. Therefore he made examples of four of the men: 1) The first was tied to a wheel and killed over a period of hours by smashing his bones; 2) the next was hung by chains and permitted to die of deprivation; 3) the third was burned to death; 4) and the fourth was burned to death over a slow fire to draw out his agony.


Categories: Today in History

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