For most of the colonial period and into the 19th century, New York was one of the biggest slave-owning cities in North America. In 1703, 42% of New York households owned at least one slave – a proportion second only to Charleston, South Carolina. Slavery was a central element of the city’s labor equation, common on farms, docks, and in households. Slaves themselves resisted the institution when possible in various ways, including running away, sabotaging equipment, and occasionally, engaging in violent uprisings. In 1741, white New Yorkers arrested some 200 hundred slaves for an alleged plot to burn down the city, kill the masters, and erect a new government. By the end of an extended trial, several dozen slaves had been executed and many more banished from the colony. Historians disagree about whether such a conspiracy ever actually existed (or existed to the extent that white prosecutors suspected). Source: Jill Lepore, New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery, and Conspiracy in Eighteenth Century Manhattan (New York, 2005). Written by Dr. Brett Palfreyman