THE IMPLEMENTATION AND GROWTH OF A SLAVE LABOR SYSTEM IN BRITISH NEW YORK
Just imported from the River Gambia in the Schooner Sally . . . to be sold . . . a parcel of likely Men and Women Slaves, with some Boys and Girls of different Ages. . . . It is generally allowed that the Gambia Slaves are much more robust and tractable than any other slaves from the Coast of Guinea, and more Capable of undergoing the Severity of the Winter Seasons in the North-American Colonies, which occasions their being Vastly more esteemed and coveted in this Province and those to the Northward, than any other Slaves whatsoever.
Philadelphia Journal (May 27, 1762)
When New Netherland surrendered to an English fleet in 1664 it had a population of 8,000 persons, of whom approximately 700 to 850 were black,1 both free and slave. Because the August 27, 1664, Articles of Capitulation2 specified that current property and status relations in New Amsterdam would be maintained and honored by the British, free blacks were not deprived of their liberty with the transition in administration. The continuing presence of freed former Dutch slaves in British New York is revealed in a March 7, 1670/71 session of the New York Mayor's Court:3
Domingo and Manuel Angola, free negroes, being sent for to Court are informed, that divers complaints were made to the W [--] Court, that the free negroes were from time to time entertaining sundry of the servants and negroes belonging to the Burghers and inhabitants of this City to the great damage of the owners: thereupon they are strictly charged by the W: Court not to entertain from now henceforth any servants or helps, whether Christians or negroes [longer than 24 hours] on pain of forfeiting their freedom . . . which they were likewise ordered to communicate to the other remaining free negroes.
Along with a free black population the British inherited an informal, still‑immature slave system from the Dutch. The legitimacy of Dutch slave titles was implicitly guaranteed in the general recognition of existing property relations contained in the Articles of Capitulation. John De Decker, a Dutch West India Company official, had received twenty slaves from a cargo of two hundred blacks which was landed shortly before the British takeover of New Amsterdam. Ten were kept locally and ten were transferred to Fort Orange to be sold. British authorities seized the ten blacks in New Amsterdam as property belonging to the Dutch West India Company. This decision was appealed by De Decker on the basis that they were personal slave property, which was to remain intact according to the surrender treaty.4
The Duke of York's Laws, passed on March 1, 1665, were the first laws promulgated by the British in New York. Compiled from the statutes of other English colonies in America, they recognized both the institutions of limited‑term indentured servitude and of lifetime servitude (no race specified).5 The Duke's Laws, however, did not become effective throughout the province until after the short‑lived re‑occupation of New York by the Dutch from August 9, 1673, to November 10, 1674. Dutch laws had probably continued to be in partial force until this time.6 During this prolonged transition between Dutch and British rule, negro slavery existed in New York without expressed legal sanction. It was a racially‑based labor system that resembled lifetime indentured servitude more than chattel slavery.7
Not until 1682 did colonial authorities pass statutes which specifically mentioned black and Indian slavery. Laws enacted between 1682 and 1708 prohibited black and Indian slaves from leaving their masters' properties without written permission and from congregating in groups of more than three persons. Whites were forbidden to harbor or entertain slaves or to trade with them without their owners' permission. Slaves could be privately punished by owners or whipped or executed by public authorities for insolence to whites, drinking, swearing, or killing their masters. Slaves could no longer testify in court against whites. The law established a uterine descent for slavery.8
British New York did not intend to rely on Indians as slave labor and did not consider Indians in general as an enslaved people‑‑only individual members who fell into that condition. However, many persons of partial Indian ancestry were born as slaves from miscegenation between blacks and Indians;9 slave mothers created slave children. As a result many full‑blood or partial‑blood Indians served as bound servants or slaves from the 1660s through the first half of the eighteenth century.10 On September 11, 1665, for example, John Kirtland of Easthampton bound his six‑year‑old Indian servant Hopewell to Thomas James of Easthampton for nineteen years. Kirtland had purchased the orphaned Hopewell from his guardians at age one.11 In 1673 James Loper, also of Easthampton, made over to his father‑in‑law, Arthur Howell, in trust for his wife and heirs, a captive Indian girl called Beck about age fourteen. Loper had recently purchased Beck "for her natural life" from a Connecticut man.12
Although the Governor and Council of New York passed an act on December 5, 1679, which stated that "all Indians here were free and not slaves, nor could be forced to be servants, except such as were brought from Campechio and other foreign parts; and for the future even these were to be free,"13 subsequent colonial legislation indicated that Indians often served as slaves. Acts passed in 1682, 1706, 1708, 1712, and 1717 referred variably to "Negro, Indian, Mulatto, Mestee, or other slaves."14 Black and Indian slave mothers passed slavery on to their offspring. Black and Indian slaves were equally subject to laws which restricted their movement and assembly, their right to trade with whites, and their ability to testify in courts. New York laws also established punishments for a variety of offenses that pertained to both races.
Evidence that Indians were often enslaved in early New York appears in bills of sale, wills (where they were bequeathed as property), and in other documents. On July 30, 1687, Thomas Hawarden of Hempstead sold to Christopher Dene, butcher, an Indian boy named Will, for life. Five days later, Dene sold the boy to Nathaniel Pine.15 Four male Indian slaves were accused of participation in the 1712 slave uprising in New York City but were later pardoned.16 Some of the early censuses listed Indians as slaves along with blacks, while others listed them as a separate group within the population with no stated legal status. The 1698 censuses for Southold, Southampton, and Hempstead, counted Indians but did not classify them as slaves. Westchester's tabulation referred to them in the category of "negroes and Indians." Among the twenty‑eight "negro" slaves listed at Morrisania in 1698 were an Indian woman and girl.17 Both Oysterbay and Hempstead had a column for "negroes and other slaves" in their 1722 enumerations. Suffolk County in 1731 listed 715 Indians as a separate population group; they formed 8.5 percent of the population. The 1755 slave census for Hempstead, in one of its three separate returns, specified that it included negro, Indian, and mulatto slaves, as did the Mamaroneck and Scarsdale combined return.18
The missionary efforts of the Dutch Reformed Church were superceded by the work of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (the missionary arm of the Anglican church) with the transition from Dutch to British rule. Although both the Dutch Reformed Church and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPGFP) were interested in Christianizing blacks, neither group achieved much success.19 The major religious denominations in early New York‑‑Dutch Reformed, Anglican (Protestant Episcopal), Presbyterian, and Methodist‑‑all faced a set of similar impediments to conversion of slaves: master opposition, widely scattered parishes, necessity to catechize in evening hours due to the slaves' working schedules, and black indifference.
The SPGFP took the position that Christianization was not emancipation but that religious liberty and education could be offered to slaves.20 From their arrival in New York in 1705 until their work ended with the American Revolution, SPGFP missionaries spread out from New York City to Staten Island, Jamaica (the parish included Newtown and Flushing), Hempstead (including Oysterbay), Brookhaven (1729), Southampton, Huntington (1761), Philipsburg, New Rochelle (1708), Rye (including White Plains), Westchester, and Salem (1767). Missionaries from these towns reported on local conditions and efforts at slave baptisms; success varied according to the attitude and zeal of both individual pastors and individual slaveowners. Elias Neau, appointed catechist to the blacks in New York City's Trinity Parish in 1705, wrote to the SPGFP on November 15, 1705, that "there is more than a thousand Negroes that are actually there, great and small, men and women. . . ."21 In May 1711, Neau's letter to the SPGFP lamented the fact that of the large number of slaves in the city, "not one in ten comes to the catechism." He blamed the poor attendance on masters' opposition, indifference, and bad example rather than on negro failings.22
The Reverend Robert Jenney at Rye noted in 1725 that there were very few slaves in the parish, and among them only two were baptized: "In those that have negroes, I find little or no disposition to have them baptized, but on the contrary, an aversion to it, in some, and in most an indifference."23 Two years later Rev. James Wetmore found one hundred blacks in Rye's parish. Those who belonged to Quaker masters were allowed no instruction. Some Presbyterians permitted their servants to be taught but not to be baptized. Those of his own denomination were "not much better, so that there is but one negro in the parish baptized."24
Masters, particularly before the middle of the eighteenth century,25 feared that slave baptism would lead to claims to freedom,26 intractable behavior, or insurrections. Even after the New York provincial government enacted a law on October 21, 1706, which stated that "the baptizing of any Negro, Indian or Mulatto Slave shall not be any cause or reason for the setting them or any of them at Liberty,"27 masters remained opposed. The extent of missionary complaints about owner opposition to slave baptism in reports to the SPGFP indicated that owners were able to prevent and control to a large degree the Christianization of their slaves. Owners made the process more difficult, often forcing slave baptisms and attendance at catechism classes to proceed covertly.
In order not to alienate the white community and jeopardize its entire missionary effort among the colonists over the issue of slave baptism the SPGFP had to proceed cautiously with black Christianization. The Dutch Reformed Church faced the same problem when it debated slave membership in 1783 and ruled "that the Scriptures did not require that the permission of the master had to be obtained before a slave was admitted, but it resolved that care should be taken 'for the promotion and establishment of peace in households.'"28
In some parishes the masters' permissions were required, in others slaves were baptized in spite of masters' refusals, and in several places clergymen did not concern themselves with masters' attitudes other than to regret their indifference. In 1713 Rev. John Sharpe noted that a slave accused in the 1712 New York City uprising had attended catechism classes and "had made some proficience but was not admitted to baptism through the reluctancy of his master [Hendrick Hooghlandt], whom he had often solicited for it [for two years]."29 Elias Neau wrote to the SPGFP on August 24, 1708, that some slaves dared not to come to catechism at all because "upon desiring the approbation of their masters to be baptized, they are either threatened to be sold to Virginia or else to be sent into the Country if they come any more to school."30
Rev. William Vesey in New York City was willing to baptize slaves over the opposition of their owners. Neau informed the SPGFP in 1706 that Vesey had baptized some negroes "against the will and without the knowledge of their masters, because [the masters] fear lest by baptism they should become temporally free." Again, in 1711, Neau wrote that Vesey had recently baptized ten negroes, and "those who were baptized had it done to them without consent of their masters and there are .. . [some] who wish me ill and many negroes come to catechism unknown to their masters."31
More commonly, SPGFP missionaries capitulated to owners and required masters' consent for baptisms. The Reverend Thomas Barclay in Albany "publicly declared that [he] will admit none of them into the Church by baptism till [he has] obtained their masters' consent. Yea, I send them home without instruction who cannot have their masters' allowance to come, for some masters are so ignorant and averse that by no entreaties can their consent be had. . . . ."32 Some masters cooperated with the work of the SPGFP at the same time enhancing their powers of observation and control over their slaves' lives. Rev. John Ogilvie, a missionary at Albany, wrote in 1752 that he had "baptized . . . four black children who had passed through a regular course of catechetical instruction, and brought a certificate of their good behavior from their masters."33
Between 1705 and 1780 SPGFP missionaries baptized at least 1,407 blacks in the southern six counties of New York.34 The organization's schoolmasters worked with missionaries in processing students to the point of baptism: approximately 1,174 catechumens were taught during this same period.35 If the SPGFP baptized 1,407 blacks in seventy‑five years, it averaged only 18.8 baptisms per year in a six‑county population which ranged from 2,050 blacks in 1703 to 12,021 by 1771. Baptism and church participation, for children or adults, was an experience which touched probably only a minority of enslaved blacks in New York.
* * * * *
After the surrender of the Dutch, slaves continued to be imported into the British colony of New York. The principal slavetraders and shipping routes changed with the shift from Dutch to British rule as did the African origins of the slaves who reached New York. The Company of Royal Adventurers of England Trading to Africa (created in 1663) and its successor the Royal African Company (chartered in 1672 with a monopoly of the English slave trade) replaced the Dutch West India Company as the government‑authorized supplier of slaves to the colony. The British islands of Jamaica, Barbados, Bermuda, and Antigua replaced the Dutch island of Curacao as the main source of seasoned slaves and as trading stations for slave ships en route from Africa to the North American mainland colonies. British New York received slaves at first from Madagascar and then from the main east‑west Guinea Coast from Cape Mount to the Cameroons rather than primarily from Angola.36
Many of the slaves who reached New York from the 1670s through the 1690s were from Madagascar. New York colonial slave merchants evaded the monopoly of the Royal African Company by trading directly with pirates operating out of Madagascar for slaves.37 Frederick Philipse, owner of Philipsburgh Manor in Westchester County, derived both profit and slaves for his own use from the trade with Madagascar pirates. In about 1684 Frederick Philipse sent his son Adolphus in the sloop Frederick to Delaware Bay to intercept New York Marchand, a vessel carrying both slaves and East India goods from Madagascar. Adophus transferred the trade goods from New York Marchand to Frederick and then ordered Frederick to sail to Hamburgh to sell its cargo. He returned to New York in New York Marchand, which now carried only slaves (private trade for slaves in Madagascar was not yet prohibited). Frederick Philipse continued to deal in slaves as late as 1698. The Charles acquired 140 blacks in Angola; it deposited 117 of them in Barbados and then set sail for New York with 23 sick blacks who had remained unsold. Of this group, "but Nine Remained Alive who were brought into the Sound and Eight of them Put Ashore with the Long boat neer About Rye and Delivered to Mr. Frederick Philips his Sonne and the Other being A Negro boy was Sent to this Citty."38
As table 1 shows, at least 6,800 blacks were imported into New York between 1700 and 1774. Approximately 2,800 (41.2 percent) arrived directly from Africa, with another 4,000 from American sources. Blacks brought into New York served the local market. New York exported relatively few slaves‑‑the known total reached only 268 blacks.39 Between 1701 and 1717 more than half of the slaves imported into New York came directly from Africa. Early eighteenth‑century New York customs duties promoted direct African importations by placing higher duties on slaves imported from indirect sources.40 Since the Gold Coast and Bight of Benin supplied two‑thirds of the slaves exported from Africa by the British between 1701 and 1730,41 most of the slaves who reached New York during these years were probably from these
NEW YORK SLAVE IMPORTS, 1701 TO 1774
Years Africa West Indies and Coastal
1701‑1715 209 278
1715‑1764 1,127 3,074 197
1768‑1772 59 171
Total 2,800 4,000
SOURCE: James G. Lydon, "New York and the Slave Trade, 1700 to 1774," William and Mary Quarterly, 35, no. 2 (April 1978):337, 382‑83, 387.
aThis figure represents known smuggling. Lydon did well to estimate a large amount of smuggling. Thomas Davis, "Slavery in Colonial New York City," p. 188, pointed out that most blacks arrived in small, easily concealable parcels which formed a minor part of a ship's cargo. Captain Johan Vanburgh's voyage to the West Indies in 1720 was typical of this process--he brought back only four blacks for sale. Only occasionally would a slaver arrive with a large black cargo. See Helen Wortis, "From First Settlement to Manumission: Black Inhabitants of Shelter Island", Long Island Forum, 36, no. 8 (August 1973): 148‑49 on the smuggling of slaves on the eastern coast of Long Island. See John Watts, to Gedney Clarke, March 30, 1762, Collections of the New‑York Historical Society, Letter Book of John Watts, 1762‑1765, vol. 61 (New York: Printed for the Society, 1928), p. 32 for his suggestion that since New Jersey had no import duty on slaves, the master of the ship "might lay a mile or two below the Town & send up word" in order to avoid New York customs inspectors.
bLydon estimated that an additional 1,215 Africans were brought in. The figure of 1,585 recorded African imports is based on data available for only 32 of the 60 vessels known to have entered New York between 1701 and 1774. Of the remaining 28 vessels, at least 15 carried slaves--guesswork places total importation directly from Africa at around 2,800.
cAn estimate of slaves imported from American sources.
areas. The English forts of Dixcove, Commenda, Cape Coast Castle, Anamabu, Winneba, and Fort James (Accra) on the Gold Coast42 shipped Akan or Ashanti peoples (commonly miscalled "Coromanti" after the Dutch fort at Koromantin). From the Bight of Benin came blacks from such linguistic and ethnic groups as Ardra (from southern Dahomey), Yoruba, Adja, Fon, Popo (from the coastal regions of the Slave Coast near Wydah [Dahomey and Togo]), Gur‑speaking (from the region north of Ashanti), Tem, Bargu, and Nupe (from Nigeria).43
The presence of Coromanti and Popo tribesmen in New York is verified by their participation in the 1712 slave uprising in New York City. Coromanti slaves were known throughout the mainland colonies and the West Indian islands for their bravery, strength, efficiency, pride, fierceness, fearlessness, and independence; they also had a reputation for rebelliousness.44 On June 23, 1712, Rev. John Sharpe of New York informed the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts in London about the recent revolt:45
Some Negro Slaves here of the Nations of Carmantee & Pappa plotted to destroy all the White[s] in order to obtain their freedom and kept their Conspiracy [so] Secret that there was not the least Suspicion of it, (as formerly there had often been) till it come to the Execution. It was agreed to on New Years Day the Conspirators tying themselves to Secrecy by Sucking the blood of each Others hands, and to make them invulnerable as they believed a free negroe who pretends Sorcery gave them a powder to rub on their Cloths which made them so confident that on Sunday night Apr. 1 about 2 a Clock about the going down of the Moon they Set fire to a house. . . .
The free black who administered the powder was an African conjurer, undoubtedly well‑learned in the art of obeah. As James Pope‑Hennessy notes, "the haphazard methods of stocking up slave ships on the Guinea Coast or down in the Congo or in Angola meant that witch‑doctors of both sexes were often transported in a parcel of fresh slaves."46 A Jamaican insurrection in 1760 bore a resemblance to the New York City revolt of 1712: it had also "been instigated by an old Coromantee oracle, who had administered the fetish oath to the conspirators, and handed them out a `magical preparation which was to render them invulnerable.'"47 Judging from such names as Amba, Bonny, Cuffee, Kitto, Mingo, Quaco (4), Quashi, and Quasi, several of the slaves who were accused in the 1712 New York uprising were African‑born.48 As Africans, they had probably believed in the African conjurer's power and in the protective power of his fetish charms.49
* * * * *
Between 1718 and 1741 the majority of slaves who entered New York had been seasoned in the West Indies or had been shipped to New York from American coastal sources, especially South Carolina.50 Before 1742, 70 percent of all blacks imported into New York were from these indirect Caribbean or American sources; after 1742, the ratio was almost exactly reversed.51 A number of underlying circumstances contributed to this sharp rise in the direct importation of slaves from Africa. The slave plot of 1741 in New York City caused residents to be concerned over the importation of malcontents and incorrigibles from the islands and other colonies. Lower import duties for blacks fresh from Africa reflected the New York preference for African rather than West Indian slaves. In 1762 merchant John Watts wrote that "Our Duty is four pound a head from the West Indies [and] forty shillings from Africa."52 Total New York demand for slaves also dropped after the 1741 uprising; slave imports, which had averaged 150 blacks per year between 1715 and 1741, declined to an average of 60 blacks per year between 1742 and 1764.53
The end of the Asiento also contributed to the flood of African slaves into New York. In 1713 England had won the coveted Spanish Asiento which entitled her British South Sea Company to transport five thousand slaves per year to Spain's New World colonies for thirty years. The African coastal forts of the Royal African Company supplied slaves to Jamaica and other West Indian islands; the British South Sea Company then sold and sent these seasoned slaves to Spain's colonies. The Anglo‑Spanish war of 1739‑1748 interrupted the Asiento contract; it was briefly resumed between 1748 and 1750 when it was relinquished by the British.54 With the Spanish market for slaves largely closed to English traders after 1739, a glut of slaves soon developed at the slave stations along the African coast. The English colonies, including New York, were inundated with slaves at reduced prices.55
Ships began to arrive directly from Africa to sell slaves on the wharves of New York City. On May 13, 1751, the New York Gazette advertized that "a number of likely Negro Slaves, lately imported in the Sloop Wolf directly from Africa" would be "Sold at Publick Vendue, on Friday the 17th Instant, at 10 o'clock in the Morning, at the Meal Market." On August 19, 1751 the New York Gazette again publicized a slave sale: "Likely Negroes Men and Women, imported from the Coast of Africa" in the Warren. In 1762 the sloop Rebecca and Joseph arrived from Anambo [Anamabu], Guinea. "A parcel of likely young slaves--men, women, and boys" were placed on sale at Cruger's Wharf when the ship reached New York City.56 This influx of Africans ceased only in the early 1770s when the supply began to diminish and slave prices rose beyond the demand of the New York market and when the imperial crisis interrupted trade.57
The Africans who were brought to New York from 1740 through the early 1770s were of different ethnic origins than earlier forced immigrants from Africa. In the 1740s and 1750s half of the slaves exported by the British from Africa came from either the Bight of Biafra or the Gold Coast areas. In the 1760s and 1770s, 46.4 percent of British‑shipped slaves came from the Bight of Biafra while another 23.9 percent came from the Windward (Ivory) Coast.58 Akan peoples continued to come in from the Gold Coast, while Akwa, Mbato, Kissi, and Bobo peoples from the Windward (Ivory) Coast increasingly found their way to the New World. The bulk of slaves, however, were from the Bight of Biafra; they were Moko (a diverse group of cultures shipped from the lower Cross River), Ibo and Ijo (New Calabar), and Efik and Ibibio (Old Calabar) peoples.59
* * * * *
An immigrant mixture of black Africans from many groups and white Europeans from several countries gave colonial New York an international flavor. British New York received a sustained infusion of unacculturated African newcomers from the 1670s through the mid‑1770s. African notions of kinship obligation and social ritual were continuously imported with each successive wave. The African segment of the slave population helped to disseminate and preserve the use of African languages, religious beliefs, names, and marital and familial values in New York's black community. The heavy importation of Africans in the decades before the American Revolution helped to sustain African customs and cultural patterns in New York's black population into the early nineteenth century.
The language abilities and often‑mentioned national origins of New York slaves underscore the recent immigrant nature of the New York slave community in the eighteenth century. A sample of newspaper ads for runaway slaves between 1726 and 1814 listed linguistic capabilities for 40 out of 194 voluntary black runaways.60 Of the forty, fourteen spoke English well and five spoke it only poorly, probably reflecting their recent arrival in New York. Another six slaves knew no English at all: they spoke Dutch, French, or an African language,61 reflecting both their owners' national cultures and their own recent Caribbean or African origins. The remaining fifteen slaves were bilingual: eleven spoke a combination of Dutch and English while the others spoke a blend of English/Welsh, French/English, and Spanish/English. The eleven who spoke both Dutch and English reflected the two major ethnic groups in New York and the sale of slave labor between the two communities.62 This suggests the instability of slave placement; repeated sale meant an added burden of cultural/linguistic readjustment by the slave.
Eleven of the runaway slaves were born outside the mainland colonies. Their masters sought to describe their missing slave property by mentioning their countries of origin: Africa, Madagascar, Guinea, Jamaica, and Barbados. In 1748 Robert Dickenson of Northcastle described his twenty‑two‑year‑old runaway slave as "very black with his own country marks plain to be seen on both his temples." When Yarrow ran away in 1781 he was listed as a "new Negro fellow" who spoke English badly and had his teeth filed sharp. In 1797 Samuel Carman advertized that his twenty‑eight‑year‑old runaway was "a Guinea negro and marked on his cheek."63
Slaves born in Africa spoke languages which were of little practical use in New York. Since blacks were taken to the New World from many different linguistic groups they were unable to communicate with each other in their native tongues. They were forced to learn the languages of their new owners. English, Dutch, French, and Spanish were haltingly mastered and were pronounced with African accents. Augustus Griffin of Oysterponds, Long Island commented in 1799 on the speech of two elderly Africans: "John Tatoo, another Affrican, about Jack's age, and died about the same time, was honest faithful and trusty and a good upright man--He talked much plainer english than Jack, [brought from Africa fifty‑five years ago] whose pronounciation was much broken."64
Evidence of the presence of native Africans in New York permeates the historical records in which slaves appear.65 In spite of widespread rendering of African names into English and Dutch equivalents and the renaming of newly arrived blacks by masters, African names appear in New York censuses from 1698 through 1820. Names such as Coraneni, Cuffie, Bango, Coffe, Mingo, Sambo, Shantee [Ashanti?], Abashe, Abee, and Mando appear in the 1698 censuses for Kings, Queens, Suffolk, and Westchester counties. Slaves named Cofi, Cessemin, Mishe, Carmente [Coromanti?], Finno, and Keshe lived on Staten Island in 1706. The slave census of 1755 recorded several African names, including Ambo, Zibia, Kea, Roos, Kouba, Febe, Ando, Ocumah, Yaff, Quam, Commenie, and Bendo. Free blacks still bore African names between 1800 and 1820. Free black Quaquo Minnefee lived in the Sixth Ward of New York City in 1800. Congo Clark, Anthony Eto, Oby Cuffe, Quam Brown, and George Hotentot were listed in the 1810 and 1820 censuses.66
African names and references are scattered throughout the church records of baptisms, marriages, and deaths in the southern six counties of New York. In 1778 a slave named Yarrobu [Yoruba?] died in the town of Southold. Thomas Wilson, a native of Guinea, was baptized in New York City in 1797; he was approximately fifty years old. A black woman named Binah died in Easthampton in 1802. Between 1802 and 1815, Ming Pritchard, Eber Brown, Comene Nicols, and Commany Tickers were members of the Sands Street Methodist Episcopal Church of Brooklyn.67
African traces are found in a variety of other sources. Several blacks with African names participated in the 1741 slave plot in New York City: Cuffee (3), Cuba, Cajoe alias Africa, Cajoe, Quack (3), Quamino, and Quash (2).68 Two of the fourteen slaves owned by Nicoll Havens of Shelter Island in 1776 were from Guinea (Africa and Judith).69 In 1812 seventy‑year‑old Richard [Conrency] certified that he had been freed in 1798; he had been born in Africa and had come to this country forty‑five years earlier.70 The way in which New York slaves celebrated the week‑long Dutch holiday of Pinkster every Spring reflected their African roots. The African tradition of communal rather than private festivities led to mass gatherings where slaves beat drums, danced, and sang African songs. They also showed their respect for African customs and leadership by electing as festival heads native Africans, some of whom were descended from royalty. Sojourner Truth described Prince Gerald, the leader of Pinkster in Ulster County in the early eighteenth century, as the grandson of an African king. An eighty‑five‑year‑old African from Guinea named King Charlie headed the celebrations in Albany.71
* * * * *
Africans imported into New York found a ready market. The ownership of slaves was widespread in early New York: of the forty‑eight heads of household in Flushing in 1675, ten (20.8 percent) held slaves. In 1683 five (13.2 percent) of the thirty‑eight householders in Flatlands owned slaves. In 1686 Southold's 114 families included 12 (10.5 percent) who owned slaves. In New Utrecht in 1693 ten of the forty‑three household heads (23.3 percent) were slaveowners. Kings County (predominantly Dutch) had an even larger black population: 40.7 percent of white households contained slaves (129 out of 317 households) in 1698.72 The proportion of slaveowners among white household heads in the towns of Westchester (11.3 percent), Fordham (21.7 percent), New Rochelle (24.1 percent), Mamaroneck (26.7 percent), Newtown (26.1 percent), and Flushing (44.1 percent) in 1698 indicates that slavery was common in these areas too.73
By 1703 there were 818 white households in New York City; 339 of them (41.4 percent) possessed slaves. In Kings County in 1731, 58.8 percent of white households contained slaves.74 New Rochelle in 1771 had one hundred households, of which 51 percent held slaves, while 25.9 percent of Shelter Island's twenty‑seven heads of household owned slaves in the same year. In Suffolk County in 1776,75 20.6 percent of homes owned slaves.76
In 1790 the institution of slavery stood at a crossroads betweeen its eighteenth‑century zenith and the onset of massive individual voluntary manumission and eventual abolition. As table 2 shows, between 1790 and 1820 the incidence of slaveholding was highest among Kings77 and Richmond county households, where large segments of the white population owned black labor. Slaves were far less commonly found in Westchester, Suffolk, and New York households. Slaves held by Dutch owners in Kings and Richmond counties and in the towns of Harlem, Newtown, and Jamaica experienced a substantially different form of the institution. They lived in an environment where a large proportion of the whites in the community were involved in and supported the slave system.
The proportion of white households that held slaves dropped from 22.1 percent in 1790 to 4.1 percent in 1820 in the combined southern six counties of New York as owners manumitted their slaves. While the proportion of whites that were slaveholders dropped in each county after 1790, the actual number of white slaveholding households increased for a time in Kings and New York counties before falling and declined only very slowly in Richmond County. Slaveholders in these areas maintained their numbers but not their proportional representation in the growing white society around them.
* * * * *
NUMBER AND PROPORTION OF WHITE HOUSEHOLDS THAT HELD SLAVES,
SOUTHERN SIX COUNTIES OF NEW YORK, 1790 TO 1820
Total Number of Proportion of All
County Number White Households White Households
Of White Which Held that Held Slaves
Kings 544 319 58.6
New York 5,854 1,117 19.1
Richmond 562 238 42.3
Suffolk 2,806 493 17.6
Queens 2,246 776 34.6
Westchester 3,763 540 14.4
Total 15,775 3,483 22.1
Kings 707 398 56.3
New York 11,199 1,483 13.2
Richmond 686 231 33.7
Suffolk 3,283 410 12.5
Queens 2,675 532 19.9
Westchester 4,180 480 11.5
Total 22,730 3,534 15.5
Kings 1,086 370 34.1
New York 15,859 1,074 6.8
Richmond 811 203 25.0
Suffolk 3,528 225 6.4
Queens 2,711 357 13.2
Westchester 4,269 432 9.9
Total 28,264 2,652 9.4
Kings 1,718 286 16.6
New York 18,264 366 2.0
Richmond 942 183 19.4
Suffolk 4,141 146 3.5
Queens 3,154 270 8.6
Westchester 5,178 133 2.6
Total 33,397 1,384 4.1
SOURCES: The total number of white households and the number of white households which held slaves wereindividu‑
ally counted within each of the southern six counties of New York as listed in the 1790, 1800, 1810, and 1820 federal censuses. Bureau of Census, Heads_of_Families,
1790; 1800 Census, Printed Population Schedules,
NYGBR; 1800 Census, Manuscript Population Schedules; 1810 Census, Manuscript Population Schedules; 1820 Census, Manuscript Population Schedules.
NOTE: Free black‑headed households which contained slaves are not included in this table which concerns only white slaveholders.
The average New York master owned only two or three slaves. Holdings were consistently small in both New York City and in rural areas during the entire colonial and early national periods. In New York City most slaves served as domestics or as workers in mercantile houses, small shops, and in the maritime trades. They were owned by a wide variety of city residents: merchants, grocers, physicians, attorneys, mariners, and gentlemen. A broad spectrum of artisans also held slave labor: shipwrights, carpenters, tallow chandlers, coachmakers, and ropemakers. Slaveholding was common in all walks of city life; the inspector of the revenue, the vice consul of France, a deputy sheriff, and numerous clergy held slaves, as did tailors, fruiterers, booksellers, and shoemakers. In the growing town of Brooklyn, the occupations of thirty‑five persons who manumitted their slaves between 1790 and 1827 included fourteen farmers, eleven gentlemen, three merchants, one widow, one innkeeper, one storekeeper, a butcher, a miller, a soldier, and the town clerk.78
Outside of New York City, slaves were used extensively for farm labor, as they were in New England.79 The small farm was the backdrop for New York slavery--the setting in which the majority of slaves lived out their lives in the southern six counties of New York. Northern agriculture was essentially subsistence farming with a ready market in New York City for whatever surplus might be produced.80 Rather than serving in gang labor in a mass‑scale southern plantation single‑crop economy, New York slaves provided the much‑needed extra general labor required on the diversified family farm.
Most New York farms were of moderate size. The original patentees of the Queens County town of Jamaica each received a six acre house lot, ten acres for farming, and twenty acres of meadow when the town's lands were divided in 1656; later divisions expanded these holdings.81 The largest farms in late seventeenth‑century Long Island were composed of between 110 and 120 acres. The bulk of the rural population in the eighteenth century was composed of farmers whose holdings ranged from forty to one hundred acres. The average farm in nearby Rockland County was approximately eighty acres by 1800, which was generally sufficient to support a family in reasonable comfort with some marketable surplus.82 The three economic classes in eighteenth‑century Jamaica in Queens County consisted of small farmers who held up to twenty acres of land, middle class to wealthy farmers who owned from forty to one hundred acres (forty‑five was the average), and a small class of planters who held an average of 215 acres of land apiece.83
In the late seventeenth century there was a positive correlation between landed wealth and the number of slaves owned, although small farmers could often possess as many slaves as average size landholders. The two men with the largest landholdings also had the greatest number of slaves in the English town of Flushing in 1675.84 Charles Bridgs owned the largest farm in Flushing, with fifty acres of land, sixty acres of meadow, fifty‑seven animals, and eight blacks. John Furbosh was second, with eighteen acres of land, forty acres of meadow, fifty‑seven animals and three blacks. John Bowne was the third largest landowner; he held twenty acres of land, thirty acres of meadow, ninety‑four animals, but no slaves. No slaveholder, other than Bridgs and Furbosh, had more than one black slave. The smallest farm in town belonged to John Hoper, with one acre of land, two cows, and no slaves. The distribution of slaves in the Dutch town of Amesfort (Flatlands) in 1683 reveals a similar pattern. Roelof Martens owned the largest farm which comprised sixty morgens (one morgen equals two acres) of land, thirty‑one animals, and two blacks. Three farmers who owned between twenty‑three and twenty‑eight morgens of land each held one black. Gerrit Strycker's small farm comprised only two morgens of land and twelve animals, but he also had one black slave.85
Slaveholding was widespread among middle‑class, wealthy, and elite farmers but was by no means universal. A 1781 census of Oysterbay‑Jericho on Long Island86 revealed that Thomas Smith held the largest farm in the area, with 100 acres under cultivation, 25 in woodland, and 118 animals. He also owned eleven slaves--three men, three women, and five children. Henry Ludlam's farm was the second largest, with 70 acres of fields, 20 of woodland, and 104 animals. He had a slave labor force of one man and two women. Henry Downing's properties made him the third largest landholder in town, with sixty‑two acres under cultivation, twelve in woodland, and fifty‑one animals. He held no slaves.
The Kings County town of Gravesend was heavily involved in slaveholding. When it counted the amount of land and the number of slaves held by its residents for tax purposes in 1788,87 twenty‑seven (46.6 percent) of its fifty‑eight households owned slaves. Slaveowning was more common among larger landholders. The twenty households at the bottom of the landed wealth scale owned from zero to twelve acres; none had slaves. The nineteen households in the middle of the landed wealth scale owned from thirteen to eighty acres; of this group eleven, or 57.9 percent, held slaves. The nineteen households at the top of the landed wealth scale owned from 81 to 248 acres; sixteen, or 84.2 percent, held slaves. While landed wealth was an indicator of whether or not one would own slaves, large landholders did not necessarily own greater numbers of slaves than small farmers. Out of twenty‑seven slaveholders, the nine men with the most acreage possessed a total of twenty‑three slaves, an average of 2.6 slaves per owner. The middle nine men held nineteen slaves (2.1 per owner), while the nine slaveholders with the least acreage held twenty‑three slaves between them (2.6 slaves per owner). The largest single slaveholder in Gravesend was Albert Voorhis, with a modest thirty‑five acres but seven slaves.
When New Yorkers established new towns and farms they needed all available labor to build the first dwellings, erect shelters for the stock, and raise churches and meetinghouses. Gardens had to be laid out, fruit orchards planted, crops grown and harvested, trees cut, and highways constructed. Once established, New York farmers grew such field crops as corn, wheat, rye, oats, barley, field peas, and clover. They raised garden vegetables which included turnips, carrots, pumpkin, squash, cabbage, beans, and onions. Fruit trees produced apples and pears. Cattle, sheep, goats, hogs, and chickens were kept as sources of meat, milk, butter, cheese, cream, eggs, and wool; horses and oxen were used as beasts of burden and for transportation.88 Slaves were employed in all of these tasks. Slaves were also skilled in the other areas of the colonial economy. On the large estate of Colonel Schuyler at Albany, slaves cut wood, threshed wheat, raised hemp and tobacco, made shoes, constructed canoes, nets, and paddles, tended to and shod horses, broke in wild horses, made cider, cooked, sewed, did laundry, and acted as household servants.89
Slave labor was well‑utilized all year long in New York, not only during the shorter northern growing season and at harvests. Just to cut, pile, haul, and split the family's firewood could consume weeks of labor.90 Slaves carted dung, mended fences, thatched roofs, and repaired farm buildings and dwellings. Animals had to be fed. Slaves were also sent on errands to local shopkeepers or on other business for their masters. An annual routine of seasonal agricultural chores kept slaves constantly busy. Spring meant days of picking up stones in the field, plowing, and planting the field crops and garden vegetables. In June wild strawberries could be picked, and August/September was haying time, with hands needed to mow the meadow grasses. Late September and October were harvest time, with potatoes to be dug and corn to be cut, carted home, and husked. Hogs were butchered in the late Fall between November and January; they had to be slaughtered, cut into merchantable pieces, salted and barreled. Other animals might have to be taken to town and given to merchants to help balance farmers' accounts.91
Male and female slaves were often assigned to different kinds of labor. Runaway males and black men advertized for sale were described as being proficient in a number of occupations: farmer, butcher and sawyer, "attends a grist mill," "acquainted with management of horses," house carpenter, boatman, and blacksmith--skills in high demand in farm and town. Male slaves commonly accompanied their masters while hunting and fishing.92 Female slaves generally were employed at cooking, housekeeping, sewing, spinning, knitting, repairing clothing, attending at table, and in dairy work (milking cows and processing milk into cheese and butter). The absence of ready‑made consumer goods in seventeenth, eighteenth, and early nineteenth‑century America meant that New York women, aided by their female slaves, had to produce all of the household's food, clothing, and such other necessities as soap and candles from scratch. In a world without refrigeration breads had to be baked daily, meats had to be smoked, salted, or pickled, and fruits and vegetables had to be preserved in the Fall for use through the Winter until the following June. Colonial kitchens also produced apple cider and medicines and fragrances from herb gardens. The production of cloth was a major domestic enterprise. Flax was grown and laboriously fashioned into linen. Woolen cloth was made at home: sheep were shorn, the wool was sorted, picked, and carded; it was then turned into yarn on spinning wheels, dyed with berry, plant, or insect colorings in large iron pots over open fires, and woven into cloth which would be sewn into clothing, bedding coverings, and curtains. The very small size of New York slaveholdings meant that a black woman was often the sole family slave; she might therefore also be required to do a great deal of agricultural work. In 1692 John Bowne and his son Samuel of Flushing described the work expected of their slave Black Mary: she was "to assist in weeding the Indian corn, in harvesting and hay‑making, when she can be spared from the garden, orchard and carding work."93
Famed abolitionist Sojourner Truth served as a slave in Ulster County, New York, from her birth in 1797 until her emancipation in 1827. She performed a wide variety of tasks for her four successive owners. She planted and hoed corn, plowed, planted, reaped, and bound wheat, and raked hay. In the Fall she would slaughter the pigs, smoke the hams, pickle the meat, or stuff the summer sausage. She picked hundreds of ripe apples and pears, cut them into quarters, and strung them high in the attic to dry. In the Autumn she also washed wool, carded, and spun it into long woolen threads to be made into clothing. She was expected to cook, clean, and wash laundry throughout the year.94
Slave labor, when not required by the owner, was commonly hired out.95 Estate executors and widows also hired out slaves to receive the income from their wages; men occasionally left slaves as legacies to be hired out to provide revenue for their widows and children.96 On August 23, 1703, the widow Aletta Douw hired out her negro man Josse for one year at 13 to Simeon Soumain.97 The estate of John Cortelyou hired out a female slave [Isabel] in 1813 to serve Ann McLeod of Flatbush.98 Acting for herself while her husband was in England, Ann Wharton of New York City hired out two slaves, Sy Coster and Mingoe, to John Pallmer of Westchester. In 1696 she contracted with Lt. John Lawrance that at the end of their period of hire to Pallmer the two men would be permanently sold to him for the sum of 50.99
In addition to hiring them out for profit owners used their slaves' labor as a means of repaying debts. According to the account book kept by Elias Pelletreau of Southampton, David Hanes settled a debt with Pelletreau by having his slave perform farmwork for him on January 30, 1770.100 Slaves were also temporarily loaned or borrowed out to neighbors. John Baxter, a Flatlands farmer, made the following entries in his diary:101
September 7, 1799 Mowing salt hay. Peter Van Der Bilts negro Bram helped.
September 13, 1802 Carromus A. Wyckoff and his negro mowed my salt meadow.
July 23, 1806 Mawn the negro of John Voorhees mowing fresh grass for me.
September 2, 1806 A. Wyckoff and his negro Harry cut my salt hay.
November 17, 1817 Paid Mrs. Bennet 7 1/2 dollars for one month's work of her negro Rob‑‑he has ten blank days.
* * * * *
The overall productivity of the slave labor force in New York was modified by the age structure of the black population.102 At any given time, approximately half of a town's slave population was dependent rather than immediately productive labor. Since the work of slave children was only fully valuable from puberty upwards and adult slave labor began to lose both resale and productivity value over approximately the age of forty‑five, both youthful and elderly slaves were often economic burdens rather than assets. As table 3 shows, only approximately 50 percent of slaves were prime laborers between the age of fourteen/sixteen and forty‑five/sixty. About 40 percent of blacks in the slave population were children and about 14 percent were over the age of forty‑five; between 6 and 7 percent were over the age of sixty (males). Whites had to support that segment of the slave labor force which was dependent--part of the costs of running a slave labor system.
While the normal age profile of the black population in eighteenth‑century New York (which included both natural reproduction and importations) dictated that half of the population would be partially or totally dependent, the non‑random distribution of slaves into particular households meant that through choice, purchase, sale, and the passage of time owners could have either prime or mixed‑age holdings or holdings of particularly youthful or elderly slaves. The age contours of their slaveholdings changed over time because of black births, the addition of young adults, the aging of slaves, the voluntary or involuntary retention of superannuated blacks, and by deaths.
The life cycle of individual slaves in small holdings and of a collectivity of slaves in larger holdings
NOTE: ALL THE CATEGORIES ARE MISSING IN THIS TABLE—SEE ORIGINAL P. 103
AGE STRUCTURE OF THE BLACK POPULATION,SOUTHERN SIX COUNTIES OF NEW YORK
1746 41.1 52.0 7.0 11.9
1749 43.3 50.7 6.0 10.5
1756 44.4 49.1 6.5 11.7
1771 41.4 50.8 7.8 13.3
1820 36.1 49.7 14.2 30.4 14.5
SOURCES: Compiled from data in Bureau of Census, Century of Population Growth, tables 95, 96, 97, 98, pp. 182‑83; 1820 Census, "Aggregate Amount of Persons. . . ."
determined the potential labor benefit available to owners. Lewis Morris, lord of the Manor of Morrisania in 1755, owned twenty‑nine slaves over the age of fourteen plus an estimated additional twenty‑one children.103 Out of these fifty slaves, the twenty‑one children (42 percent) were either still totally dependent or were of limited immediate value and the eight elderly slaves (16 percent) were largely beyond sustained labor. Therefore, 58 percent of Morrisania's slave population was only marginally productive.
Age Structure of Adult Slave Population,
Manor of Morrisania, 1755
Age Groupings Males Females
14‑19 1 0
20‑29 6 3
30‑39 1 1
40‑44 2 1
45‑49 2 0
50‑59 2 2
60‑69 4 1
70‑79 0 0
80‑89 1 1
90‑99 1 0
Out of twenty‑nine adult slaves held by Lewis Morris only fifteen were prime adults between the ages of fourteen and forty‑four. The six slaves between the ages of forty‑five and fifty‑nine were growing old and may have produced less work. The five slaves in their sixties and the three slaves in their eighties and nineties were beyond productive labor; they represented 27.6 percent of Morris's adult slave labor force. The life cycle of the manor, its owners, and its slaves104 had produced a particularly old workforce.
Abraham Depeyster of New York City had a far smaller holding than Lewis Morris; it too contained a proportion of dependent slaves:105
Sarah age 90 no value
Ceaser age 50 35
Mary age 48 45
Dinah age 45 32.10
Hannah age 18 60
Susan age 34 55
Frank ‑‑‑‑‑‑ 60
Bett, blind ‑‑‑‑‑‑ no value
Out of eight slaves only three were choice laborers--Susan, Hannah, and Frank. The three slaves between forty‑five and fifty years of age were worth less at valuation and were beyond their prime. One slave was blind, and another was ninety years old. This labor force was probably less of an asset than a burden to be supported; in a few more years it would have further become a collection of largely dependent, superannuated slaves.
According to Henry Oothoudt's estate inventory taken on August 25, 1801, he had owned a very youthful slave workforce:106
negro wench Sarah age 22
negro child Dian age 5
negro child Brom age 3
negro child Ann age 1
negro wench Claar age 25
negro man Sam age 22
negro boy Jack age 16
negro boy Sam age 10
negro boy Pert age 9
negro boy Jack age 6
negro girl Sarah age 4
negro girl Criss age 2
negro girl Gin age 5 months
Out of Oothoudt's thirteen slaves, four were prime adult laborers aged sixteen to twenty‑five years, three were children of only modest current labor value, aged six to ten years, and six were young children under the age of five who had to be supported. In five years, however, Oothoudt would have had a very valuable, young, prime labor force of six men and women aged fourteen to thirty years, six older children between age six and eleven of moderate current use but on the verge of entering their prime years, and only one five‑year‑old to be supported.
Most New York slaveowners held far fewer slaves than did Lewis Morris, Abraham Depeyster, or Henry Oothoudt. With only one, two, or three slaves in his household, the average master could ill‑afford to maintain a half (or in the case of a single slave) totally unproductive workforce. The small size of their holdings made New York owners particularly anxious to try to sell off unwanted infants born to their women as well as their aging slaves. The smallness of New York slaveholdings also dramatically affected blacks both as individuals and as family members. Most slaves lived on properties of less than a hundred acres with a white family and either none or only a few other slaves. The ownership of an entire slave family over time was incompatible with the economic demands of northern family farm slavery which called for a limited number of workers of a specific age and sex.
1Rosenwaike, Population History of N.Y.C., p. 3; Davis, "Slavery in Colonial New York City," p. 42; Michael Kammen, Colonial New York--A History, A History of the American Colonies in Thirteen Volumes (New York: Charles Scribner's & Sons, 1975), pp. 58, 65.
2Articles of Capitulation, in O'Callaghan, ed., Documents Relative, New York State, 2:250‑53.
3Fernow, ed., Records of New Amsterdam, 6:286.
4Coll. NYHS, Abstracts of Wills, 1:82‑83.
5Charles Lincoln, William Johnson, and A. Judd Northrup, eds., The Colonial Laws of New York from the Year 1664 to the Revolution, 5 vols. (Albany: James B. Lyon, State Printer, 1896), 1:18, 48.
7McManus, Negro Slavery, pp. 79‑80.
8"An Order Concerning Negros and Indian Slaves," October 4‑6, 1682, Collections of the New-York Historical Society, Proceedings of the General Court of Assizes, 1680 to 1682, vol. 45 (New York: Printed for the Society, 1912), pp. 37‑38; "An Act for Regulateing of Slaves," November 27, 1702; "An Act to Incourage the Baptizing of Negro, Indian & Mulatto Slaves," October 21, 1706; "An Act for Suppressing of Immorality," September 18, 1708; "An Act for preventing the Conspiracy of Slaves," October 30, 1708, in Lincoln, Johnson, and Northrup, eds., Colonial Laws of New York, 1:519‑21, 597‑98, 617‑18, 631.
9See p. below on black/Indian miscegenation.
10The origins of Indian slavery in New York are unclear. Although no eighteenth‑century statute which outlawed Indian slavery has been located, acts passed regarding slavery after 1773 no longer mentioned Indians. By the 1780s Indian birth or ancestry was considered prima facie evidence of entitlement to freedom. See p. below on such manumissions.
11Joseph Osborne, comp., Records of the Town of Easthampton Long Island, 5 vols. (Sag Harbor, N.Y.: John H. Hunt, Printer, 1887‑1905), 1:229.
12Paul Gibson Burton, "Cornelis Melyn, Patroon of Staten Island, and Some of His Descendants," NYGBR 68 (July 1937): 218; Osborne, comp., Records of Easthampton, 1:412‑13.
13John Gilmary Shea, "The New York Negro Plot of 1741," in David Valentine, comp., Manual of the Corporation of the City of New York, 28 vols. (New York: William C. Bryant, Printer, for New York City, 1841‑1870); 28 (1870): 764‑65.
14Shea, "New York Negro Plot of 1741," p. 765 notes that "with the fall of King James the enslavement of Indians resumed." For the 1682, 1706, and two 1708 acts, see n. 8 above. "An Act for Preventing Suppressing and Punishing the Conspiracy and Insurrection of Negroes and other Slaves," December 10, 1712; "An Act for Explaining and Rendering more Effectual an Act of the General Assembly of this Colony entitled, an Act for Preventing, Suppressing and punishing the Conspiracy and Insurrection of Negroes and other slaves," November 2, 1717. Lincoln, Johnson, and Northrup, eds., Colonial Laws of New York, 1:761‑67, 922.
15Records of the Towns of North and South Hempstead, 1654‑1874, 8 vols. (Jamaica, N.Y.: Long Island Farmer's Print, printed by order of the Town Board of North Hempstead, 1896‑1903), 2:60.
16Scott, "Slave Insurrection in New York," pp. 43‑74. Of the forty‑six slaves accused in the conspiracy, forty‑two were black and four were Indian.
17"Southold, 1698," Doc. Hist., 1:455‑56; "Southampton, 1698," Doc. Hist., 1:445‑47; Harris, "Hempstead, 1698," NYGBR, p. 67; Miller, "Census of Westchester, Eastchester, Fordham and Bedford, 1698," pp. 129‑34; Randolph, "Census of 1698, Mamaroneck, Morrisania, and New Rochelle," pp. 104‑5.
18Hartell, "Slavery on Long Island"; Wells, "New York Census of 1731," pp.256‑57; "1755 Slave Census," Doc. Hist., 3:511, 516.
19Wood, Black Majority, p. 142, also found that the work of the SPGFP in baptizing blacks had only very limited rewards due to the difficulty of the preparation required for Anglican baptism. Early efforts to spread Protestant Christianity among South Carolina negroes had a negligible impact, whereas other sects, notably Catholic, "readily christened any Negro who came before them."
20Frank Klingberg, Anglican Humanitarianism in Colonial New York (Philadelphia: The Church Historical Society, Publication no. 11, 1940), pp. 122, 170, 187.
21Ibid., p. 126. Neau's estimate of the black population of New York City was quite accurate. According to the 1703 New York City census there were eight hundred blacks in the city. "N.Y.C., 1703," Doc. Hist., 1:395‑405.
22Klingberg, Anglican Humanitarianism, p. 131.
23Ibid., pp. 155‑57.
24Ibid., p. 167.
25Owner opposition eased somewhat in the 1740s. In 1740 Rev. Richard Charlton at New York City noted an improved master attitude toward his activities due to public and private exhortations. Rev. Samuel Auchmuty at New York City wrote in 1750 that "masters of the slaves in this place have also become more desirous than they used to be, to have their servants baptized. . . ." Klingberg, Anglican Humanitarianism, pp. 143, 147.
26The idea that only heathens could be enslaved made whites fear the Christianization of their slaves. An early attempt to resolve this issue occurred on March 30, 1688 when Gov. Thomas Dongan ordered the attorney general to draw up an "Act for all negroes and other servants within ye government to be instructed and bread on ye Christian Faith," with a clause that "ye property of ye owners of such servants be no wise altered thereby." Shea, "New York Negro Plot of 1741," p. 765.
27Lincoln, Johnson, and Northrup, eds., Colonial Laws of New York, 1:597‑98. This bill was supported by various ministers including Elias Neau and William Vesey. They urged the legislation in order to prevent the withdrawal of their negro catechumens by whites who feared that baptism would deprive them of their slave property. Klingberg, Anglican Humanitarianism, p. 127. See William Kemp, The Support of Schools in Colonial New York by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, Contributions to Education, Teacher's College, No. 56 (New York: Teacher's College, Columbia University, 1913), p. 239.
28Zilversmit, The First Emancipation, pp. 25‑26.
29"Reverend John Sharpe's Proposals for Erecting a School, Library, and Chapel at New York, 1712‑1713," Collections of the New-York Historical Society 13 (1880):353.
30Klingberg, Anglican Humanitarianism, p. 130.
31Ibid., pp. 127, 132.
32Ibid., p. 135.
33Ibid., p. 176.
34This estimate is based on the number of black baptisms listed in missionary reports to the SPGFP excerpted in Klingberg, Anglican Humanitarianism, pp. 120‑86. The legal status of blacks who received baptism was usually not mentioned, but since almost all blacks were slaves during this period it is likely that most of the baptized blacks were slaves rather than freedmen. There were 7 men, 11 women, 833 children, and 556 persons of unknown age and sex baptized during this period.
35This estimate is based on the number of black catechumens listed in missionary reports to the SPGFP in Klingberg, Anglican Humanitarianism, pp. 120‑86. Some students in this group may have been double‑counted if they reappeared in successive years or reports. Some who were later baptized were counted in with that group separately. Catechumens who received religious instruction included 127 men, 145 women, 50 children, and 852 persons whose age and sex were not specified. Only eight pupils were listed as being free.
36Pope‑Hennessy, Sins of the Fathers, p. 155; James G. Lydon, "New York and the Slave Trade, 1700 to 1774," William and Mary Quarterly, 35, no. 2 (April 1978):384; Curtin, Atlantic Slave Trade, p. 123. See Donnan, ed., Documents Illustrative of Slave Trade,3:462‑510 on the Caribbean islands from which slaves were shipped to New York.
37Lydon, "New York Slave Trade," p. 376; Curtin, Atlantic Slave Trade, p. 125; Donnan, ed., Documents Illustrative of Slave Trade, 1:93‑95; 3:406, 438‑44.
38Donnan, ed., Documents Illustrative of Slave Trade, 3:438‑39 (this incident probably took place in 1684), 442‑44 (this incident probably took place in 1698); Edmund B. O'Callaghan, ed., Calendar of Historical Manuscripts in the Office of the Secretary of State, Albany, New York, 1664-1776: English Manuscripts (Albany: Weed, Parsons & Co., 1866), p. 158; Thomas J. Scharf, History of WestchesterCounty, New York, Including Morrisania, Kings Bridge, and West Farms, 2 vols. (Philadelphia: L.E. Preston & Co., 1886), 1:30.
39At least fifty blacks were transported out of the colony in the aftermath of the 1741 slave plot. Of the others, 176 went to southern plantations, and the rest to the West Indies and Madeira. Known exports amounted to about 6 percent of known imports‑‑268 out of 4,398 blacks in the 1715 to 1764 period. Lydon, "New York Slave Trade," p.387.
40See Donnan, ed., Documents Illustrative of Slave Trade, 3:444, table 351 and n. 2 on the proportion of Africans imported 1701 to 1717 and on customs duties.
41Curtin, Atlantic Slave Trade, p. 150.
42Pope‑Hennessy, Sins of the Fathers, pp. 56‑57.
43Curtin, Atlantic Slave Trade, pp. 185‑88.
44Donnan, ed., Documents Illustrative of Slave Trade, 1:398; Pope-Hennessy, Sins of the Fathers, pp. 58‑59; Curtin, Atlantic Slave Trade, pp. 161‑62; Collections of the New‑York Historical Society, Diary of William Dunlap, 1766‑1839, 3 vols. (New York: Printed for the Society, 1929‑1931), 1:190‑91 (hereafter cited as Coll. NYHS, Diary of William Dunlap); Kenneth Scott, "The Slave Insurrection in New York in 1712," New-York Historical Society Quarterly 45 (1961):46‑47.
45Chaplain Roswell Randall Hoes, "The Negro Plot of 1712," NYGBR 21 (1890):162. 1715 to 1764 period. Lydon, "New York Slave Trade," p.387.
46Pope‑Hennessy, Sins of the Fathers, p. 139.
47Ibid., p. 141.
48Scott,"Slave Insurrection in New York," p. 57, notes that at the trial of one of the conspirators, "a Negro boy was allowed to act as interpreter for one or more of the more of the accused slaves who had not yet learned English." See pp. 62‑67 for a list of the names of the slaves who were accused of participating in the 1712 uprising.
49See p. below on another New York slave who practiced obeah.
50Lydon, "New York Slave Trade," p. 382.
51Ibid., pp. 387‑88.
52Collections of the New‑York Historical Society, Letter Book of John Watts, 1762‑1765, vol. 61 (New York: Printed for the Society, 1928), p. 32 (hereafter cited as Coll. NYHS, Letter Book of John Watts). Also see Donnan, ed., Documents Illustrative of Slave Trade, 3:457.
53Lydon, "New York Slave Trade," pp. 381‑82, 387.
54Pope‑Hennessy, Sins of the Fathers, pp. 152‑55.
55McManus, Negro Slavery, pp. 28‑30.
56Ann Hartell, "Slavery on Long Island," The Nassau County Historical Journal, 6, no. 2 (Fall 1943): 56.
57McManus, Negro Slavery, p. 30. Slave importations into New York were made illegal on February 22, 1788.
58Curtin, Atlantic Slave Trade, p. 150.
59Ibid., pp. 185, 188.
60See pp. ‑ below on this sample of runaway slaves.
61The African spoke no English or Dutch "or any other language but that of his own country" and was "lately imported from Africa." Runaway Slave Ad, New York Mercury, 6 November 1752.
62This interchange of slave personnel between Dutch and English communities is illustrated in Runaway Slave Ad, New York Mercury, 30 November 1772. Owner Caleb Morgan reported that his twenty-five-year-old runaway slave Sambo "talks good English and some Dutch--was brought up among the Dutch."
63Runaway Slave Ad, New York Evening Post 5 September 1748, in Richard Webber, "Some Old Westchester News Items and Advertisements," Quarterly Bulletin of the Westchester County Historical Society, 3, no. 3 (July 1927): 10; Runaway Slave Ad, New York Mercury, 12 November 1781; Runaway Slave Ad, Frothingham's Long Island Herald, 31 May 1797. Pope-Hennessy, Sins of the Fathers, p. 59 mentions the "tribal and status‑symbol cuts [commonly] incised facially in childhood" among Gold Coast tribes. African slaves in New York often bore these markings.
64Augustus Griffin Diaries, 1792‑1850, 2 vols., August 12, 1799 entry, vol. 1, pp. 124‑26, LIHS.
65Several native Africans and African practices are mentioned in this study. See Venture Smith (p. ), Sojourner Truth's mother (p. ), Jack Conklin (p. ), Belinda (p. ), King Charlie (p. ), Schuyler estate (p. n. ), Cato (p. ), Obium (p. ), Owah/Tom Gall and Obed (pp. ‑ ). See pp. ‑ below on breastfeeding and pp. ‑ below on the naming of children.
66See app. 1 for a listing of the relevant 1698, 1706, and 1755 census sources. 1800 Census, Manuscript Population Schedules, New York City (Ward 6, p. 828); 1810 Census, Manuscript Population Schedules, New York City (Wards 6 and 7, pp. 149a, 176a); 1820 Census, Manuscript Population Schedules, Suffolk County (p. 169a); Westchester County (p. 227); Queens County (p. 255).
67William A. Robbins, "The Salmon Records," NYGBR 48 (1917): 277. This black could be the same Yarranbey whose daughter was baptized on October 20, 1758 and who was baptized himself (Yarranboe) in 1764 at the Presbyterian Church of Mattituck-Aquebogue. R. Vosburgh, ed., Christ Protestant Episcopal Church, New York City (n.p., 1919), NYGBS; "Records of the Church of East Hampton," in Joseph Osborne, comp., Records of the Town of Easthampton, Long Island, 5 vols. (Sag Harbor, N.Y.: John H. Hunt, Printer, 1887‑1905), vol. 5; Records of the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Brooklyn, N.Y., formerly known as the Sands Street Methodist Episcopal Church, NYGBS.
68Daniel Horsmanden, The New York Conspiracy or a History of the Negro Plot, with the Journal of the Proceedings against the Conspirators at New York in the Years 1741‑1742 (New York: Southwick and Pelsue, 1810; reprint ed., Thomas J. Davis, ed., Boston: Beacon Press, 1971).
69Ralph G. Duvall, The History of Shelter Island from Its Settlement in 1652 to the Present Time, 1932 (Shelter Island Heights, N.Y.: By the Author, 1932), p. 89.
70Richard [Conrency], Certificate of Freedom, December 14, 1812, Indentures of Apprenticeship, NYHS.
71Jacqueline Bernard, Journey Toward Freedom: The Story of Soujourner Truth (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1967), pp. 42‑44; Gabriel Furman, Antiquities of Long Island, and Notes Geographical and Historical Relating to the Town of Brooklyn in Kings County on Long Island, To Which is Added a Bibliography by Henry Onderdonk, ed. Frank Moore (New York: J. W. Bouton, 1875), pp. 265‑69.
72In the town of Brooklyn 33.7 percent of households held slaves, 36.2 percent in Bushwick, 51.4 percent in Flatlands, 32.4 percent in Gravesend, 48.5 percent in Flatbush, and 46.3 percent in New Utrecht. Large proportions of the white population continued to use slave labor in New Utrecht: 50 percent in 1716 and 47.4 percent in 1717. The need for farm labor was great in Kings County, for in addition to the 295 slaves in the county in 1698 there were also 48 apprentices.
73"Flushing, 1675," Doc. Hist., 2:263‑64; "Flatlands, 1683," Doc. Hist., 2:288‑89; Southold, 1686, L.I.H.S.; N.U., Bergen Papers, St. Francis; "Kings Co., 1698," Doc. Hist., 3:87‑89; Miller, "Census of Westchester, Eastchester, Fordham and Bedford, 1698"; Randolph, "Census of 1698, Mamaroneck, Morrisania, and New Rochelle"; Gardner, "Census of Newtown"; "Flushing, 1698," Doc. Hist., 1:432‑37.
74In Kings County in 1731 180 out of 306 households held slaves. High proportions of households owned slaves in all of its towns: Gravesend (41.4 percent), New Utrecht (55.9 percent), Flatlands (55.9 percent), Flatbush (57.9 percent), Bushwick (61 percent), and Brooklyn (66.3 percent).
75This census of Suffolk County excludes the town of Huntington. Proportions of slaveholders in the white population ranged from a low in Southampton (14.4 percent), Easthampton (14.6 percent), Shelter Island (18.5 percent), Brookhaven (19.6 percent), Southold (21.8 percent), Islip (26.9 percent), Manor of St. George and Patent of Meritches (30.4 percent) to a high in Smithtown (41.5 percent).
76"N.Y.C., 1703," Doc. Hist., 1:395‑405; "Kings Co., 1731," Doc. Hist., 4:122‑31; "New Rochelle, 1771," NYGBR 107 (1976):196‑98; Mallmann, Historical Papers; "Suffolk, 1776," Force, ed., American Archives, 4:1236‑52.
77The proportion of Kings County white households that held slaves in 1790 ranged from 47.2 percent of households in Brooklyn to 75.9 percent of households in New Utrecht.
78Occupations of owners were compiled from Scott, "Slave Insurrection in New York," pp. 43‑74 (the professions of twenty‑nine of the owners whose slaves were accused in the 1712 New York City uprising were listed); New York City Birth Certificates of Slaves, microfilm reel 49, NYHS (professions were listed for 170 of the owners who registered the birth of children to their slave women between 1799 and 1827); Harry Yoshpe, "Record of Slave Manumissions in New York During the Colonial and Early National Periods: A. Abstract of Instruments of Manumission on Record in the Office of the Register, New York County; B. Abstract of Instruments of Manumission among the Papers of the Manumission Society, New York City," Journal of Negro History, 26, no. 1 (January 1941):78‑107 (professions were listed for 159 slaveowners in Yoshpe's compilation and in other scattered manumission documents). Figures for Brooklyn were taken from manumissions listed in Brooklyn Town Meeting Minutes, 1785‑1823, Book no. 500, St. Francis. Printed with minor errors in Kenneth Scott, "Manumissions in Kings County, New York, 1797‑1825," National Genealogical Society Quarterly, 65, no. 2 (June 1977):177-80, and in Henry McCloskey, "Slavery on Long Island," Manual of the Common Council of the City of Brooklyn (1864), pp. 157‑65.
79A large proportion of New England's slaves worked on small farms where they raised food products, forage crops, and livestock and made dairy products. Greene, Negro in Colonial New England, pp. 103, 321.
80Carl Nordstrom, "Slavery in a New York County: Rockland 1686‑1827," Afro Americans in New York Life and History, 1, no. 2 (July 1977):155.
81Jean Peyer, "Jamaica, New York, 1656‑1776: Class Structure and Social Mobility," Journal of Long Island History, 14, no. 1 (Fall 1977):34‑47; Robert C. Ritchie, The Duke's Province: A Study of New York Politics and Society 1664-1691 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1977), p.131.
82Nordstrom, "Slavery in Rockland, 1686‑1827," p. 155.
83Peyer, "Jamaica, New York, 1656‑1776," p. 36.
84"Flushing, 1675," Doc. Hist., 2:263‑64.
85"Flatlands, 1683," Doc. Hist., 2:288‑89.
86Blank, "Census of 1781"; Darlington, "Census of 1781," 2:328‑29.
87"Gravesend, 1788," Gravesend Records, St. Francis. See app. 3 for a list of households arranged according to the number of acres held with the corresponding number of slaves. The number of taxable acres listed may only be the number of acres a man had under cultivation, not his entire holding in land. The real number of slaves in Gravesend could have been higher if only prime adults were listed as taxable property in 1788. The 1788 list included 65 slaves whereas according to the 1790 federal census, Gravesend had 135 slaves. The seventy slaves not listed in 1788 may have been black children and the elderly who were not considered to be taxable property.
88Alice P. Kenney, Stubborn for Liberty: the Dutch in New York (Syracuse, N.Y.:Syracuse University Press, 1975), pp. 91‑95. On the Manor of Queens Village the Lloyd family's slaves and tenants raised wheat, rye, corn, vegetables, fruits, cattle, sheep, swine, and horses using the best contemporary agricultural methods. Collections of the New‑York Historical Society, Papers of the Lloyd Family of the Manor of Queens Village, Lloyd's Neck, Long Island, New York, 1654-1826, 2 vols. (New York: J.J. Little & Ives Co. for the New-York Historical Society, 1926‑1927), 1, introduction, p.xi. (hereafter cited as Coll. NYHS, Papers of the Lloyd Family).
89Ann Grant, Memoirs of An American Lady, 2 vols. (London: n.p., 1808; reprint ed., New York: Dodd, Mead and Co., 1901), 1:302‑11.
90Howard S. Russell, A Long, Deep Furrow: Three Centuries of Farming in New England (Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England, 1976), p. 314.
91Ibid., pp. 44, 94, 96, 99, 122, 145, 151, 153‑54, 161, 193, 195, 220, 294.
92Journal of John Baxter of Flatlands, Long Island, 1790‑1826, 3 vols.,LIHS. Long Island artist William Sidney Mount painted a picture in 1845 entitled Eel Spearing at Setauket, based on an old black named Hector who had shown Mount how to fish. Alfred Frankenstein, Painter of Rural America: William Sidney Mount, 1807-1868 (Stony Brook, N.Y.: Suffolk Museum at Stony Brook, 1968).
93Henry Onderdonk, "Farming in Olden Times in Queens County," Journal of Long Island History 5 (1965):1‑17.
94Bernard, Journey Toward Freedom, pp.26, 48, 58.
95For examples of hiring out, see Coll. NYHS, Papers of the Lloyd Family, 1:105, 258, 261‑62, 270‑71, 282‑83.
96Out of 2,526 slaves disposed of in regular wills, and 1,109 slaves disposed of in miscellaneous wills where data was less complete, only ten slaves where ordered to be hired out by testators. The widows or estate executors generally took such actions themselves in order to best utilize inherited slave property.
97Richard B. Morris, Select Cases of the Mayor's Court of New York City, 1674-1784 (Washington, D.C.: The American Historical Association, 1935), p. 237. This hire resulted in a court case heard on May 22, 1705 (Aletta Douw v. Simeon Soumain). Soumain failed to pay Douw 11.7.0 of the sum agreed upon.
98Ann McLeod registered the birth of children to Isabel in 1813 and 1815. Flatbush Slave Records 1799‑1819: Births and Manumissions of Slaves 1799‑1819, vol. 107, pp. 275, 282, St. Francis.
99Bill of Sale, Ann Wharton to Lt. John Lawrance, April 1696, in Josephine Frost, ed., Records of the Town of Jamaica, Long Island 1656-1751, 3 vols. (Brooklyn, N.Y.: Lyons Genealogical Co. for the Long Island Historical Society, 1914), 2: 177.
100Ken Stryker-Rodda, "Genealogical Gleanings from Account Books of Elias Pelletreau of Southampton, Long Island," Journal of Long Island History, 5, nos. 1 and 2 (1965):27‑47, 28‑46.
101Journal of John Baxter of Flatlands, Long Island, 1790‑1826, LIHS.
102Figures for the white population from 1712 to 1786 indicate that an average of 47.6 percent of males were in the prime sixteen to sixty age group compared to 50.6 percent of black males. For the 1800 to 1820 period an average of 42.7 percent of whites were in the prime sixteen to forty‑five age group compared to 52.4 percent of blacks (aged fourteen to forty‑five years). Whites had lower proportions of prime labor in their population than blacks because they had a larger proportion of children in their population. The age structure of the New York white population (proportions of children, prime adults, and elderly) is displayed in app. 4.
103Slaves in Westchester County, "An Account of the Negroes above fourteen years of Age belonging to Lewis Morris, at Morrisania," in O'Callaghan, ed., Documentary History New York State, 3:510. See p. n. for the method of estimating Morrisania's child slave population.
104The original owner of the manor lands, Colonel Lewis Morris, had what was probably a young, productive work-force of sixty-six slaves (thirty‑three adults and thirty‑three children or teenagers) at the time of his death in 1691. Having only come to New York in the 1670s, it is likely that in 1691 most of his slaves had been recently purchased in their youth. His nephew Lewis Morris inherited the estate and sixty of the slaves; he consolidated the properties into the Manor of Morrisania in 1697 with this theoretically young, healthy slave labor force (half of which were children). When he died in 1746 at age seventy‑five his slaveholding had become middle‑aged, composed of the remnants of his inherited sixty slaves and any additional purchases he had made during his stewardship of the manor. His son Lewis Morris, lord of the manor in 1755, had to support eight slaves in old age which had belonged initially to either his father (see his mother Isabella Morris's 1746 will, p. below) or to their ancestor Lewis Morris in 1691. The passing down of Morris family slaves from one heir to the next meant that by the third generation a number of long‑held slaves had accumulated who needed to be maintained during old age. Estate Inventory and Will of Colonel Lewis Morris, Coll. NYHS, Abstracts of Wills, 1:196, 182; Frederic Shonnard and W. W. Spooner, History of Westchester County, 2 vols. (New York: The New York History Company, 1900), 1:153.
105Estate Inventory of Abraham Depeyster, New York City, January 25‑26, 1768, New York Public Library.
106Kenneth Scott and James Owre, Genealogical Data from Inventories of New York Estates, 1666‑1825 (New York: New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, 1970).