After the New York City Slave Revolt of 1712, a series of laws were enacted over the next thirty years which restricted the activity of slaves in the city. The New York State Assembly passed an Act for the suppression and punishment for the conspiracy and insurrection of Negroes and other Slaves. This law allowed masters to freely punish their slaves in any manner they chose, with or without reason. They were, however, restricted from amputating limbs or murdering a slave. One law prohibited slaves from gathering in groups of three or more to prevent another slave revolt. Another called for twenty lashes to any slave caught possessing a firearm. Slaves, who were convicted of rape or conspiracy to kill, were executed, and those found gambling were publicly whipped. Free blacks were no longer allowed to own land.
The laws also discouraged people from granting their slaves freedom. When the masters wanted to set their slaves free, they had to pay the government two hundred dollars to the government and twenty dollars annually to the slave. This price was much higher than the purchase of a slave. Despite the passage and enforcement of such restrictive laws, rumors of conspiracy and intrigue engulfed the city again twenty-nine years later. In 1741, a group of slaves and poor whites would again be accused of setting the city ablaze.
For additional information see New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery, and Conspiracy in Eighteenth-Century Manhattan by Jill Lepore.