Friday, July 08, 2005

Quaker History/Slavery

Happy Fifth of July, New York!

New York Times/New York/NY/USA/2-Jul-05

….The story of New York's black population during slavery includes heroes like the poet Jupiter Hammon and the actor James Hewlett who resisted injustice even as they produced a rich cultural legacy in the face of adversity. And New Yorkers - both black and white - fought to erase slavery from the state. Several prominent New Yorkers, including Aaron Burr, John Jay and Alexander Hamilton, encouraged by Long Island's Quaker population, formed the New York Manumission Society, the state's first antislavery club, in 1785, and two years later established the African Free School in New York City to educate freed slaves.

New York antislavery forces pressured newspapers not to run slave-sale advertisements and auction houses not to hold slave sales. They also provided free legal council to slaves seeking to sue their masters for freedom.

These efforts bore fruit when the State Legislature enacted a gradual emancipation law that took effect on July 4, 1799. The law freed all children born to slave women after July 4, 1799, but only after at least two decades of forced indenture. Males became free at age 28, and females at age 25. Until then, they were tied to the service of the mother's master. Unrestricted freedom did not come to New York's slaves until a new emancipation law took effect 28 years later, on July 4, 1827.


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