FYI March 18, 2020

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.[1]

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.[1]

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

1846 – Kicking Bear, Native American tribal leader (d. 1904)
Kicking Bear (Lakota: Matȟó Wanáȟtaka,[1][2] March 18, 1846 – May 28, 1904) was an Oglala Lakota who became a band chief of the Miniconjou Lakota Sioux. He fought in several battles with his brother, Flying Hawk and first cousin, Crazy Horse during the War for the Black Hills, including Battle of the Greasy Grass.

Kicking Bear was one of the five warrior cousins who sacrificed blood and flesh for Crazy Horse at the Last Sun Dance of 1877. The ceremony was held to honor Crazy Horse one year after the victory at the Battle of the Greasy Grass, and to offer prayers for him in the trying times ahead. Crazy Horse attended the Sun Dance as the honored guest but did not take part in the dancing.[3] The five warrior cousins were brothers Kicking Bear, Flying Hawk and Black Fox II, all sons of Chief Black Fox, also known as Great Kicking Bear, and two other cousins, Eagle Thunder and Walking Eagle.[4] The five warrior cousins were braves considered vigorous battle men of distinction.[5]

Kicking Bear was also a holy man active in the Ghost Dance religious movement of 1890, and had traveled with fellow Lakota Short Bull to visit the movement’s leader, Wovoka (a Paiute holy man living in Nevada). The three Lakota men were instrumental in bringing the movement to their people who were living on reservations in South Dakota. Following the murder of Sitting Bull, Kicking Bear and Short Bull were imprisoned at Fort Sheridan, Illinois. Upon their release in 1891, both men joined Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show, and toured with the show in Europe. That experience was humiliating to him[citation needed]. After a year-long tour, Kicking Bear returned to the Pine Ridge Reservation to care for his family. In March 1896, Kicking Bear traveled to Washington, D.C. as one of three Sioux delegates taking grievances to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He made his feelings known about the drunken behavior of traders on the reservation, and asked that Native Americans have more ability to make their own decisions. While in Washington, Kicking Bear agreed to have a life mask made of himself. The mask was to be used as the face of a Sioux warrior to be displayed in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. A gifted artist, he painted his account of the Battle of Greasy Grass at the request of artist Frederic Remington in 1898, more than twenty years after the battle. Kicking Bear was buried with the arrowhead as a symbol of the ways he so dearly desired to resurrect when he died on May 28, 1904. His remains are buried somewhere in the vicinity of Manderson-White Horse Creek.



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Today’s email was written by Olivia Goldhill, edited by Annaliese Griffin, and produced by Tori Smith. Quartz Obsession: Online trolls: Out from under the bridge


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