When the hysteria over the alleged conspiracy was over, thirteen men had been burned to death and another eighteen went to their deaths by hanging. Seventy "conspirators" were transported out of the colony, including Sarah. Ironically, the "troublesome" woman was shipped to Hispaniola, where, a half-century later, African women would play a significant role in the uprising of enslaved people in the French colony of Saint Domingue. That act of resistance ultimately led to the establishment of the Republic of Haiti.

     The actions of Lysbeth, Diana, Betty, Kate, and the Sarahs reflect the determination of women to assert their humanity in the face of exploitation and degradation. While the men and women who claimed to own them considered them chattel, their resolve to transcend that designation was evident in the many common and, occasionally, extraordinary actions they took. Not all enslaved women were "a common source of irritation," but those who flouted the laws, ran away, or engaged in general acts of disobedience convinced white New Yorkers that the discontent exhibited by their domestic laborers potentially could prove to be as dangerous and disruptive to society as the frustrations of male workers outside the household. Hence, Black women in New York—far from being silent and helpless individuals in the struggle for self-determination—contributed significantly to the environment of resistance that led ultimately to freedom for themselves and other enslaved people.

 

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HUAN 5 
August 2000