New-York Conspiracy, or a History of the Negro Plot

Daniel HORSMANDEN

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A "PROFOUNDLY TROUBLING" ACCOUNT "OF HOW SLAVERY DESTABILIZED—AND CREATED—AMERICAN POLITICS": IMPORTANT 1810 EDITION OF DANIEL HORSMANDEN'S NEW-YORK CONSPIRACY, OR A HISTORY OF THE NEGRO PLOT

HORSMANDEN, Daniel, Esq. 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" New-York: Southwick & Pelsue, 1810. Octavo, period-style half-brown calf and blue-gray paper boards, original plain wrappers bound-in, uncut; pp. (1-5), 6-385, (7). $3200.

Very scarce 1810 edition of NY Justice Horsmanden's account of the alleged 1741 conspiracy—"unquestionably false… [yet] the most important single source of information" on the mass arrests, trials and executions of enslaved and free Black colonists, with 13 burned at the stake, 17 hanged and 84 men and women sold into slavery, to one historian, "the biggest lynching in the history of America," in period-style paper boards, uncut with original plain wrappers bound in.

"The 1741 New York conspiracy trials and the 1692 Salem witchcraft trials had much in common. Except that what happened in 1741 was worse, and has been almost entirely forgotten." At a time when "New York was a slave city," enslaved and free African Americans were suspected of forging uprisings and "an ever-threatening revolution." In 1741 when the colony's Fort George caught fire and burned down, followed by other fires, Black men and women were targeted and mass arrests followed. "Tried and convicted before the colony's Supreme Court, 13 Black men were burned at the stake. Seventeen more were hanged… one jailed man cut his own throat. Another 84 men and women were sold" into slavery in the Caribbean (Lepore, New York Burning, xvii-xii). To historian Roi Ottley, it stands as "the biggest lynching in the history of America" (Szaaz, New York Slave Revolt, 215).

New York Supreme Court Justice Horsmanden, who "staked his reputation on the investigation, was outraged" when some colonists suggested the conspiracy was a fiction. His answer to critics was swift publication of this account. On nearly every page, Horsmanden's "fiery racial hatred" is clear (Lepore xviii) and what he wrote "is unquestionably false." Yet, with certain evidence still unclear and debated, this remains "the most important single source of information… any analysis of the revolt must begin and end" with Horsmanden (Szaaz, 216-17. emphasis added). Colonial "New York is not America, but what happened in that 18th-century slave city tells one story, and a profoundly troubling one, of how slavery destabilized—and created—American politics… fear of Black rebellion and the embrace of opposition, like liberty and slavery, traveled with the same tide" (Lepore, xviii, 219). Copies of the 1744 first edition, titled Journal of the Proceedings, are virtually unobtainable; this second edition, issued in 1810, remains the primary source. Sabin 33060. Howes H652. Church 951. Block 9787 (2nd edition). Work, 349 (2nd edition). Early owner signature of Jacob Morris above title page.

Text generally fresh with light scattered foxing, expert restoration to corner of plain front wrapper. A handsome near-fine copy, entirely uncut.

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