On This Day
1741 – New York governor George Clarke’s complex at Fort George is burned in an arson attack, starting the New York Conspiracy of 1741.
The Conspiracy of 1741, also known as the Negro Plot of 1741 or the Slave Insurrection of 1741, was a purported plot by slaves and poor whites in the British colony of New York in 1741 to revolt and level New York City with a series of fires. Historians disagree as to whether such a plot existed and, if there was one, its scale. During the court cases, the prosecution kept changing the grounds of accusation, ending with linking the insurrection to a “Popish” plot by Spaniards and other Catholics.
In 1741 Manhattan had the second-largest slave population of any city in the Thirteen Colonies after Charleston, South Carolina. Rumors of a conspiracy arose against a background of economic competition between poor whites and slaves; a severe winter; war between Britain and Spain, with heightened anti-Catholic and anti-Spanish feelings; and recent slave revolts in South Carolina and Saint John in the Caribbean. In March and April 1741, a series of 13 fires erupted in Lower Manhattan, the most significant one within the walls of Fort George, then the home of the governor. After another fire at a warehouse, a slave was arrested after having been seen fleeing it. A 16-year-old Irish indentured servant, Mary Burton, arrested in a case of stolen goods, testified against the others as participants in a supposedly growing conspiracy of poor whites and blacks to burn the city, kill the white men, take the white women for themselves, and elect a new king and governor.
In the spring of 1741 fear gripped Manhattan as fires burned across all the inhabited areas of the island. The suspected culprits were New York’s slaves, some 200 of whom were arrested and tried for conspiracy to burn the town and murder its white inhabitants. As in the Salem witch trials and the Court examining the Denmark Vesey plot in Charleston, a few witnesses implicated many other suspects. In the end, over 100 people were hanged, exiled, or burned at the stake.
Most of the convicted people were hanged or burnt – how many is uncertain. The bodies of two supposed ringleaders, Caesar, a slave, and John Hughson, a white cobbler and tavern keeper, were gibbeted. Their corpses were left to rot in public. Seventy-two men were deported from New York, sent to Newfoundland, various islands in the West Indies, and the Madeiras.
Born On This Day
1870 – Agnes Sime Baxter, Canadian mathematician (d. 1917)
Agnes Sime Baxter (Hill) (18 March 1870 – 9 March 1917) was a Canadian-born mathematician. She studied at Dalhousie University, receiving her BA in 1891, and her MA in 1892. She received her Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1895; her dissertation was “On Abelian integrals”, a resume of Neumann’s Abelian integral with comments and applications.”
Baxter enrolled at Dalhousie University in 1887. Her primary courses of study were mathematics and mathematical physics. Despite the relative lack of female scholars in these areas, Baxter received her bachelor’s degree in 1891 and was the first women at the university to gain a honours degree . She received multiple awards at graduation, including the Sir William Young Medal for highest standing in mathematics and mathematical physics .
Baxter completed her master’s degree at Dalhousie in 1892.
From 1892 to 1894, Baxter held a fellowship at Cornell University in New York. On the completion of her thesis, “On Abelian integrals, a resume of Neumann’s ‘Abelsche Integrele’ with comments and applications,” she became the second Canadian woman and the fourth woman on the North American continent to receive a Ph.D. in mathematics. Her supervisor, James Edward Oliver in 1894 and his mathematical notes were edited by Baxter and later published .
On her death, her husband Albert Ross Hill wanted his wife’s memory to be preserved donated $1000 to Dalhousie University for the purchase a collection of books at Dalhousie University. The University also created the Agnes Baxter Reading Room within the Dept of Mathematics, Statistics and Computing sciences.
Agnes Sime Baxter was born on March 18, 1870, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Baxter family had emmigrated to Canada from Scotland. Her father, Robert Baxter, was manager of the Halifax Gas Light Company, having managed a Scottish electric light company before moving to Nova Scotia.
Agnes Baxter married Dr. Albert Ross Hill on August 20, 1896. The marriage produced two daughters. Agnes chose not to teach at the institutions where her husband was a professor, although Albert credited her with assisting him in his work.
Agnes Ross Hill died on March 9, 1917, in Columbia, Missouri, after protracted illness and was buried in the Columbia Cemetery.
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