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      XXPANTHAXX's Avatar
      XXPANTHAXX is offline Organizer

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      Arrow The Hidden History of Slavery in New York

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      The Hidden History of Slavery in New York


      In 1991 excavators for a new federal office building in
      Manhattan unearthed the remains of more than 400 Africans
      stacked in wooden boxes sixteen to twenty-eight feet below
      street level. The cemetery dated back to the seventeenth and
      eighteenth centuries, and its discovery ignited an effort by
      many Northerners to uncover the history of the institutional
      complicity with slavery. In 2000 Aetna, one of Connecticut's
      largest companies, apologized for profiting from slavery by
      issuing insurance policies on slaves in the 1850s. After a
      four-month investigation into its archives, Connecticut's
      largest newspaper, the Hartford Courant, apologized for
      selling advertisement space in its pages for the sale of
      slaves in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. And in
      2004 Ruth Simmons, president of Brown University, established
      the Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice to investigate
      "and discuss an uncomfortable piece" of the university's
      history: The construction of the university's first building
      in 1764, reads a university press release,
      "involved the labor of Providence area slaves."

      Now another blue-blooded institution--the New-York Historical
      Society--has joined this important public engagement with our
      past by mounting an ambitious exhibition, "Slavery in New
      York." To all those who think slavery was a "Southern thing,"
      think again. In 1703, 42 percent of New York's households had
      slaves, much more than Philadelphia and Boston combined.
      Among the colonies' cities, only Charleston, South Carolina,
      had more.

      The history presented here does not offer the flabby
      reflection that "slavery is bad" or that once it came to an
      end everyone lived happily ever after. The Historical Society
      hired experts led by Richard Rabinowitz, historian and
      president of the American History Workshop, to untangle the
      complicated stories of slavery and provide historical
      context. With more than a score of scholarly advisers
      weighing in, one wonders whether there were too many cooks,
      each one bringing a different feature of slavery at the
      expense of some themes that cry out for explication.

      Take, for example, the creation of a distinctive black
      community of "half-free" New Yorkers in the middle of what is
      today's downtown but well north of the cluster of seventeenth-
      century houses. "Slavery in New York" leaves the designation
      "half-free" dangling suggestively, unexplored and undefined.
      Wasn't slavery straightforward? How could someone be enslaved
      and free? Fortunately, a book of essays titled Slavery in New
      York, published in conjunction with the New-York Historical
      Society, provides a valuable supplement to the exhibit (and a
      worthwhile resource in its own right). The collection--co-
      edited by Ira Berlin, a distinguished scholar of slavery, and
      Leslie M. Harris, the author of a 2003 study of slavery in
      New York (The Shadow of Slavery)--assembles a prodigious
      group of scholars, writing on topics ranging from slave
      rebellion, slavery in the American Revolution, black
      abolitionism and life after slavery.

      Half-free, we learn from Berlin and Harris's introduction,
      reflected the evolving nature of slavery in the urban North.
      The Dutch West India Company that governed New Amsterdam
      worked its chattel hard, clearing the land, splitting logs,
      milling lumber and building wharves, roads and fortifications;
      but slavery was so ill defined in those days that slaves
      collected wages. In 1635, when wages were not forthcoming, a
      small group petitioned the company for redress, and that's
      when they became "half-free." As a condition of their half-
      freedom, families who sustained themselves as farmers agreed
      to labor for the company when it called on them and pay an
      annual tribute in furs, produce or wampum. This arrangement
      provided the company with a loyal reserve force without the
      responsibility for supporting its workers. It was less
      beneficial for the half-free men and women. Their status was
      not automatically passed down to their children, who instead
      remained the property of the company. This anomalous sorting
      of humanity produced an ongoing struggle over freedom, and it
      reflected "the ambiguous place of black men and black women
      in New Netherland. Exploited, enslaved, unequal to be sure,"
      write Berlin and Harris, "they were recognized as integral,
      if inferior, members of the Dutch colony on the Hudson." And
      their status conferred on them a penchant to make trouble.

      A map titled "Landscapes of Conspiracy" shows Hughson's
      Tavern, where black and white New Yorkers intermingled. There
      they "drank, divvied up stolen goods, [and] slept together,"
      reads the label. Hughson's was on the far west side of the
      city, where Crown Street intersected with today's West Side
      Highway. The map details New Amsterdam in 1741, a crucial
      year in the city's history of slavery. After an especially
      severe winter, ten fires blazed in the city over three short
      weeks. A grand jury called by the Supreme Court quickly
      concluded that the fires were the work of black arsonists,
      "plot Negroes" from the half-free community. They were
      accused of acting as part of a vast conspiracy that seemed to
      involve just about every slave in the city and was carefully
      planned by John Ury, an "alleged" white priest, and John
      Hughson. It seems that the Supreme Court Justice was
      unwilling to believe that black people could have devised the
      plot themselves. In an admirable essay in the accompanying
      volume, the historian Jill Lepore argues there was little
      evidence to support the Ury-Hughson plot. As to the question
      of whether there actually had been a plot, Lepore says the
      evidence is inconclusive. What is clear, she argues, is that
      given a history of the city's slave codes (which serve as a
      record of the difficulty of enslaving human beings) and the
      testimony of the slaves themselves, "much evidence points to
      a plot hatched on street corners and in markets, the forging
      of an Akan-influenced brotherhood" and "a political order
      that encouraged individual acts of vengeance, of cursing
      whites and setting fires, skirmishes in the daily, unwinnable
      war of slavery."

      One of the many strengths of "Slavery in New York" is its
      depiction of American history and life that was (and is)
      entangled with other histories and other lives. It puts to
      rest any mistaken belief that globalization began recently
      with outsourcing and free-trade agreements. The profits from
      the slave trade and products of slave labor, the exhibition
      tells us, "fueled the world's first industrial revolution."
      By 1800 it also fueled moral outrage against slave trading,
      igniting "the first international human rights movement,"
      another suggestive comment left undeveloped. It turns out
      this is the subject of a second exhibition slated for next

      On display is The Trading Book of the Sloop of Rhode Island,
      which left the Port of New York in 1748 for West Africa under
      the direction of Capt. Peter James. Thumbing through a
      virtual trading book while the original remains safely behind
      glass, the visitor will see that early in the voyage, around
      Sierra Leone, James distributed two New World commodities
      that had come through the Port of New York: tobacco and rum,
      connecting the British colonies of Virginia and Caribbean
      plantation economies into an Atlantic world of inebriation
      and addiction. In return he loaded up on cloth, guns and
      other manufactured goods from Europe. Later, as he sailed
      along the Gold Coast (today's Ghana), he traded those goods
      for slaves, a few at a time.

      James's book registered the deaths of thirty-eight slaves on
      the journey home. But even with the loss, the trafficking in
      slaves was profitable. A table provides a graphic
      illustration of just how lucrative the business was. In 1675
      the average selling price of a slave in dollars in Africa was
      $354.89, and in New York it was $3,792.66 (that's a 969
      percent markup, for those econometricians keeping score). A
      hundred years later the trade was still profitable, although
      with a more modest return of 159 percent.

      "Slavery in New York" is not the last word on how the
      institution evolved--and how it helped New York develop into
      the most powerful port in the hemisphere in the decades after
      New York State's Gradual Emancipation Law of 1799. When you
      walk down a hallway at the end of the exhibition, pause to
      ponder two quotes inscribed on the wall, both written years
      after the abolition of slavery in all of the Americas. The
      first is by U.B. Phillips, grandson of a Southern planter and
      a historian who wrote favorably about slavery in 1929, and
      the other is by W.E.B. Du Bois, scholar, polemicist and pan-
      Africanist who recognized before anyone else that slavery,
      even when it was confined to the South in the years before
      the Civil War, was a national phenomenon that touched the
      lives of every American, black, white, slave and free. It
      seems right that Du Bois should have the last word
      in "Slavery in New York."
      Nov 2, 2015 "Assata Shakur Liberation Day" marks 36 yrs of freedom for our Comrade Assata Shakur, Our Warrior was liberated from a NJ prison by Comrades In The Black Liberation Army click here to read more or here

    2. #2
      meroe's Avatar
      meroe is offline Warrior

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      Blackicon Woman good information

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      hidden history of new york also a good book for more on our ancestry

      asante sana for your research

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