By: Tony Pham

Purpose Of Slavery

Slavery has continuously practiced throughout the history of human existence. The earliest known trace of slavery can be traced back to 1770 B.C due to the writings in the Code of Hammurabi. All races and all civilizations have practiced slavery: China, India, Arabs, Africa and in the Americas. Throughout history people have made slaves of their own kind and enslaved other races. White Europeans are were exception. People often think of slavery as an issue of racism and social Darwinism. The main purpose of slavery was to create an efficient economy.

“Why work when you can just fear and force to get what you want?” That was the mentality of many slave owners.

New York Slave Insurrection of 1741: Causes

The insurrection was planned by poor whites and enslaved Africans in order to elect a new king and governor. At the time slaves in made up 1/5 of New York’s population which cause fear among the poor Whites who needed jobs. Often slave owners would train their slaves in the craftsmanship which caused racial and economic tension. The governor of New York in 1737 told the legislature, “the artificers complain and with too much reason of the pernicious custom of breeding slaves to trades whereby the honest industrious tradesmen are reduced to poverty for want of employ, and many of them forced to leave us to seek their living in other countries.” As a result, many whites went out of business.

New York Slave Insurrection of 1741: The Bloodbath

The winter of 1740 and early 1741 caused an economic depression which helped fuel the revolt as food and fuel supplies were sacred. Poor whites and slaves joined forces as a result. Resentful of the government, in March and early April, they set a series 13 fires in Lower Manhattan which included Fort George, the governor's house. They wanted to burn the city, kill the white men, and elect a new king and governor.

New York Slave Insurrection of 1741: The Aftermath

Immediately after setting the fires, two unknown slaves were captured and forced to confess. In their confession, they named the co-conspirators which caused an outbreak of arrests throughout New York. The two slaves were burned at the stake while 160 blacks and 21 whites were arrested in the mass hysteria. Executions began May 11 and ended on August 29, 1741. As a result, 17 slaves and 4 whites were hung. 13 slaves were burned at the stake. 70 blacks and 7 whites were banished from New York.

1842: Slave Revolt in the Cherokee Nation: Background

Often when we talk about slavery, we image Southern Whites, plantations, and the atrocities but we’ve forgotten that the Five Civilized Tribes which included the Cherokees, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks, and Seminoles also participated in enslaving Africans. By the 1840’s the Cherokee tribe had approximately 4000 slaves of their own. The Cherokees deepened on slaves as a way to assimilate into White society and also as translators. As the five tribes were forced to move westward, slaves sought the opportunity of freedom as they planned to escape to Mexico where slavery was already abolished.

1842: Slave Revolt in the Cherokee Nation: Headed Toward Mexico

On November 15, 1842, 25 slaves from the Vann plantation revolted as they locked their master and overseers inside their homes as they were sleeping. They were also able to steal ammunition, weapons, and food to assist them on their escape. As the sun rose, they made their escape as the Cherokee slaves were joined by the Creek slaves.

The Choctaw Nation sent slave hunters who were killed as the runaway slaves headed towards Mexico.
On November 21, the Cherokee Militia under the command of John Drew sent out over 80 men to retrieve the runaways.

On November 28, John Drew found the group of 31 fugitives slaves 7 miles north of the Red River where they surrendered immediately.

1842: Slave Revolt in the Cherokee Nation: Vain Attempt

The fugitives surrendered to John Drew and his men on November 28 because they were out of food and too weary to show any resistance. By December 7, Drew had returned the slaves to the Cherokee Nation. On December 8, the Cherokee National Council charged five slaves with the murder of the Choctaw slave hunters.

John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry (1859) : Day I

October 16, 1859, John Brown an abolitionist among with 16 white men, 3 free black men, 1 freed slave, and one runaway slave attempted to start a slave revolt by taking control of United States Arsenal at Harpers Ferry in Virginia in order to supply weapons to slaves.

“I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood. I had, as I now think, vainly flattered myself that without very much bloodshed it might be done.“

John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry (1859) : Day II

By the morning of October 17, 1859, armory workers, the local militia, farmers, and merchants had encountered and surrounded Brown and his men. All escape routes were cut off and therefore Brown and his men attacked resulting in the killing of 4 townspeople which included the mayor. Realizing that they were trapped , Brown used his captives as forts. John would later send his sons out waving a white flag, they were immediately wounded. By 3:30, President James Buchanan sent Robert E. Lee of the 2nd U.S Calvary to finish off Brown and his men.

John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry (1859) : Day III & Aftermath

By the time Lee and his men arrived, eight of Brown's 22man army had already been killed. Lee's men were able to moved in and ended the insurrection in a matter of minutes. In the end, ten of Brown's men were seven were captured and five had flee. On December 2nd, Brown was executed only helping a chain of events to spark the Civil War.


1. "1741 New York Conspiracy." 1741 New York Conspiracy. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2012. <http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/negroplot/plo t1741home.html>. 2. PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2012. <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part1/1p286.html>. 3. "CHEROKEE SLAVE REVOLT OF 1842." CHEROKEE SLAVE REVOLT OF 1842. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2012. <http://www.coax.net/people/lwf/SLAVE_RV.HTM>. 4. "Civil War Trust." John Brown's Harpers Ferry Raid. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2012. <http://www.civilwar.org/150thanniversary/john-browns-harpers-ferry.html>.

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