Slavery in New York


We have it so firmly fixed in our minds that slavery was a southern thing that it seems intuitively wrong for it to have been a feature of northern city life in the 18th century. But it was. The Dutch colonists of New Amsterdam held slaves on the legal model they had developed in other Dutch outposts, from Brazil to Indonesia, which allowed for slaves in some cases to save towards their own manumission. At the British take-over in the 1670s, this was replaced by a more straightforward chattel-slave régime, in which the liberties of the white citizen were thought to be, if anything, enhanced by his possession of human property over which he had near-total discretion. By 1746, of New York’s total population of around 7000 people, 1000-1500 were slaves. 

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