Contested ground: hinterland slavery in colonial New York.In pre-Columbian times along the mighty Hudson River, extending in a radius of a hundred miles on either side from its point of origin in the north to its estuary far to the south on the Atlantic Ocean, lay a pristine world of bucolic and serene landfall. This was a world mantled with lush forests that rimmed the walls and blanketed valley floors but whose coastal plains and flatlands had a much thinner layer. It was a world permeated with babbling, bubbling, tumbling freshwater brooks and numerous smaller rivers that meandered through the region snaking their way to larger bodies of water like the Raritan and Hackensack Rivers that emptied into the Atlantic. There were undulating hills and precipitous ridges that lay in the shadow of towering mountain ranges like the Palisades and Shawangunk on the lower and mid-Hudson to its west, and the mountain ranges of Catskills, Taconic and Adirondacks that rise magnificently from the valley floor. There were smaller valleys off to the southwest like the Passaic and Hackensack, with both the Piedmont and Jersey Highlands rising above them. Rainfall was seasonally heavy, and spring thaws brought streams of melting snow rushing down mountains to enrich rivers with topsoil that spilled from the rivers' banks inundating agriculturally rich flood plains. This was truly a cornucopia of natural wealth whose space was contested by indigenous bands of Algonquian-speakers and an abundance of wild life. Where the river emptied into the estuary, on its southern and western flanks, were scattered Native American bands of Manhattans, Hackensacks, Lenapes, Minisinks and Delawares, while bands of Wappingers, Mohicans, and Esopus lay across the middle span of the river, and with Mohawks and others further north. On the eastern flank of the estuary, on Long Island, were the Montauks, Shinnecocks, Matinecocks, and Massapequas.
The tranquility of this pristine world was traumatically shattered in the seventeenth century with the arrival initially of the Dutch and later the English in search of wealth, bringing with them alien ideas of land ownership through "purchase" and, barring that, outright conquest. The alien form of land tenure was part and parcel of an overall alien economy of individualism driven by the profit motive, and combined with equally alienating socio-cultural systems that slowly eroded, incorporated, and eventually collapsed an indigenous, more humane and collective socio-economic structure. Yet out of the clash of cultures would emerge a new, more dominant culture, whose staying power on what became contested ground, was as a result of a process of "grafting on" key cultural and economic elements from the vanquished. So in their efforts to ensure profitability in tapping the natural wealth of the region's hinterland, especially the trade in animal skins, the Dutch in the first three decades of the seventeenth century carved out from the landfall a trading station, Fort Orange (Albany), on the upper Hudson and a southern port city at the river's mouth which they named New Amsterdam. Laying claim to the vast extent of the river's environs and beyond southwest to the Delaware River, and naming it New Netherlands, the Dutch, in the wake of the collapse of the fur trade, moved to enhance the profitability of what was becoming an uneconomic colonial venture.
Future profits for the Dutch were envisioned in the exploitation of the potential agricultural schemes of land grants called patroonships, an alien form of land tenure that would forever alter this pristine landfall, creating a terrain of on-going contestation between intruders and indigenous folk and among the intruders themselves. Grant holders (patroons) were to exploit the land and other natural resources through the recruitment of "servants" (i.e., European, Native American and/or African) as laborers. Two of the early patroonships established were Rensselaerwyck on the upper Hudson, the personal holding of Kiliaen van Rensselaer a director of the Dutch West India company, and the patroonship of Pavonia of Michael Pauw on the lower Hudson across from New Amsterdam. By 1660 small, self-sufficient Dutch and Walloon farms in the hinterland on western Long Island, in and among such towns as Brooklyn, Bushwick, and New Utrecht, sprang up in this growing contested terrain in response to this new vision of agricultural exploitation. Yet before other patroonships could be carved out of the hinterland of the river's estuary, the English, in 1664, assumed control of New Netherland whose name was changed to New York in honor of the sole proprietor, the Duke of York.
An immediate concern of the English was the maintenance of economic continuity in New York, especially the colony's ability to manage the flow of hinterland products through its major entrepot of New Amsterdam now renamed New York City. Strategically located on an international mercantile lifeline, and home to the merchants, bankers, and local and colonial officials, the city was key to that economic continuity. It was key as well because of its resident class of skilled entrepreneurs, and because the city contained on its periphery a series of successfully exploited bouries (farms) catering to the city that were models for the agricultural schemes envisioned for the hinterland. Positioned, therefore, as the hub for the flow of hinterland products, New York as a river port would become a strategic player in an international Atlantic trade network that linked it with the Caribbean, Europe, and Africa. It was from two of these regions that a crucial Atlantic connection arose for the city and its hinterland: a connection of African laborers.
One of the first steps in ensuring economic continuity with Dutch exploits of the hinterland's natural resources, and to bolster the economic viability of English colonialism, was the reconstruction of land grants by colonial officials under the leadership of Governor Dongan in the 1680s, into a series of patents, manors (heavily concentrated up the Hudson River), and the continued dispersal of yeomanry throughout the hundred miles radius of the river. With the core of the manorial system and patents anchored in the Hudson Valley, a few interrelated families monopolized the most productive lands on the valley floor. Three of the largest manors were the pre-English Renisselaerwyck grant of 850,000 acres, Livingston Manor of 160,000 acres, and the rather modest 92,000 acres of Philipsburg Manor on the lower Hudson. Patent grants ranged from the huge Hardenberg of 1,500,000 acres that gobbled up an extensive area west of the middle Hudson, and the relatively small Rombout patent of 84,000 acres in the same region but to the east of the river. In their wish for economic continuity and viability, the English, like the Dutch, had to resolve a persistent labor shortage.
THE ATLANTIC CONNECTION--AFRICA AND THE CARIBBEAN
Prior to 1664 the legal recruitment of labor for the agricultural and other economic ventures in what was becoming a widening, contested terrain, was handled through the Dutch West India Company and, by the 1650s, a few investors involved in ventures to Madagascar in the Indian Ocean to barter for a small number of Africans to be used by them personally or for sale in the colony. Their activities and those of the company were mimicked by an assortment of smugglers. The company's responsibility was the recruitment of a work force of foreign and resident indentured servants, apprentices, and paid laborers to be distributed to farmers. Under the terms of the 1629 Charter of Freedoms and Exemptions and a later agreement of 1635, company directors agreed "to exert themselves to provide the patroons [and colony] with persons bound to service" along with paid laborers. (2) When a shortage of Europeans as laborers developed because of the lure of virgin land and the desire to be an independent farmer, the company sought to bolster its work force through the coerced labor of Native Americans and Africans. Written into the 1629 Charter of Freedoms and Exemptions was the provision by the company to supply each patroon with at least twelve Africans, who, incidentally, were already being used, along with Native Americans, in Dutch colonial holdings in the Caribbean as on the island of Curacao and Brazil in Latin America.
The Native American like the African suffered trauma as a result of the violent nature of recruitment. Unlike the African the Native American lost ownership of the very lands that were now exploited by him/her, under duress, for economic gain for an alien owner. An owner who through disruption, displacement, and destruction of an indigenous way of life was determined to ensure that there were more dependants than competitors as an alien form of land tenure began slowly to erode the pristine facade of the river's hinterland. A driving force behind this alien form of land tenure was the European axe. Made of iron and not the indigenous implement of stone or bone, the axe was the catalytic spark of erosion that marred the pristine facade of the hinterland. The African and Native American were methodically whisked along on this verdant erosion, irrecoverably drawn into a widening vortex of contested terrain mired in inhumanity and unprecedented violence.
In its efforts to attract a settler population to cultivate the land, the Dutch West India Company increased the number of Africans brought into the colony as well as saw to a wider dispersal of Africans among prospective owners. Africans could be acquired from the company for cash, barter, credit, or through lease. The primary buyers were Dutch and English "residents". Many of the enslaved bought by settlers/farmers in the hinterland came through the port of New York via the Atlantic connection as well as through ports on eastern Long Island like Sag Harbor, Shelter Island, and South Hampton in Suffolk County, and Perth Amboy in Monmouth County, New Jersey. While the majority of the Atlantic connection Africans imported into New Amsterdam between 1639 and 1664 came by way of the West Indies from islands like Barbados, Antigua or Jamaica, a good 30% of enslaved were imported directly from ports along the West African coast below present-day Nigeria. (3) By the end of Dutch rule the use of enslaved Africans, along with indentured, apprentice, Native American, and paid laborer, had expanded considerably and was dependable, so much so that after 1664 the English simply plugged into a preexisting Atlantic connection labor system and supply to ensure the colony's economic viability.
Between 1700 and 1774 approximately 41.2% of all imports were direct from Africa. A good percentage of the Atlantic connection that came through New York were purchased by agents for farmers or by the owners themselves, and shipped to the hinterland up river to the Hudson Valley, across the East River to Long Island, or across the Hudson to New Jersey. With such a polyglot of people, the city took on a defined foreign character, of which the African flavor was an integral part, and was felt in the hinterland as the population of enslaved Africans increased and was constantly reinforced by the introduction of recently arrived Africans from the continent.
A WIDENING VORTEX OF CONTESTED TERRAIN: HINTERLAND SLAVERY: AN OVERVIEW
The difficulty in recruiting a stable labor force for the British was compounded by the fact that the alien form of land tenure was perceived as an "imposition of a feudal order upon free soil," (4) acting more as a deterrent than an incentive to settlement. And when combined with the desire to be one's own farm boss and the availability of virgin "free soil" elsewhere in the colony or in others along the eastern seaboard, it was a formula for labor shortfall. Although this shortfall was felt throughout the hinterland, it was particularly evident in the Hudson River Valley among the large estates where manor lords sought to attract tenant farmers who, along with servants, worked the land. The number of tenants and servants on manors or patents was never sufficient to meet rising labor needs. For one, after 1664 immigration from Holland virtually stopped and English immigrants trickled into the colony with an "average of three English, Scottish or Irish families a year from 1678 to 1685." (5) By 1714 the upper Hudson Rensselaerwyck Manor had only 82 tenants and a total population of 427, "an average increase of only one tenant family a year," while Livingston Manor had 33 tenants and approximately 170 whites. (6) To prospective laborers and tenants the manorial system was not only shades of European feudalism but as well was "an instrument of oppression and exploitation which offered only marginal security from abject poverty." (7) Those immigrants intent on work or settlement in the colony much preferred freeholder to tenant. "What man will be such a fool to become a base tenant to Mr. Dellius, Colonel Schuyler, Mr. Livingston [and the other large land holders] when, for crossing Hudson's river, that man can for a song purchase a good freehold in the Jersies?" (8)
The British solved the labor shortfall through its Atlantic connection. The Royal African Company, similar to the Dutch West India Company, became the primary supplier of enslaved Africans, although privateers and smugglers continued as interlopers. Africans, along with white indentured servants, Native Americans, paid laborers, and at times alone, worked the major arteries of the hinterland's natural wealth. Through a process of buying and selling, hinterland products were transferred to New York City, the heart of this contested terrain, and whose resident class of skilled entrepreneurs, after internal capital transactions, then fed the goods into an insatiable Atlantic network of national and international trade. The African, as a variable in this widening vortex of contested terrain, became an unwilling partner to that verdant erosion, but as an enslaved or freeman consistently contested the inhumanity of slavery and a status of "free" with very limited freedom; and carved out a semblance of privacy from white, prying eyes while he/she performed Herculean tasks in an incipiently productive colonial economic system.
The work regimen for enslaved Africans varied from skilled, semiskilled to menial: carpenter, miller, wheelwright, tailor, dairywoman, mason, cobbler, farmer, domestic, coachman, seamstress, etc. There was a division of labor in terms of gender but either could be found performing similar tasks. William Strickland, a visitor in the 1790s to the home of Robert Livingston and that of his mother, Margaret Beekman Livingston of Columbia County in the Hudson Valley, spoke of observing young boys and men waiting tables at one house and females at the other. He wrote that "four black boys ... barefooted and in livery green ... waited about the [breakfast] table ... Three black men in livery waited at dinner ... It is not unusual for female blacks to wait; an instance of which we met with yesterday at Mrs. Livingston's." (9) Or, male and female worked together at a particular task such as dairy, which was really a female chore. A French refugee at Albany, New York could write that "the negroes before going to their work, assisted the negress to milk the cows ... The days we made butter ... Minck remained to turn the handle of the churn, a task which was too difficult for a woman ..." (10)
These tasks, along with other domestic types like weaving, candle making, etc, were crucial to the maintenance of pre-revolutionary households but marginal to a profit driven agricultural economy. Profitability was in the exploitation of the natural wealth of the hinterland, which only awaited the appropriate managerial class with a dependable labor force to tap it. That managerial class was the small farmers and estate holders, and the labor force mostly enslaved Africans. As new land grants were opened up in East and West Jersey after 1664, on western and eastern Long Island, and in the Hudson Valley, New Englanders, Baptists, Presbyterians, Dutch and Huguenots, with their human property in tow, rushed to use the alien form of land tenure to define their respective "purchases" and/or patents. In some areas of this contested ground with high water tables, land had to be drain before farming could begin. African labor drained the land, cut trees and cultivated the newly cleared land for planting. Farms of fifty acres or more and with an average of two to three enslaved Africans (the norm across the hinterland), used hired laborers as well as indentured servants along with their enslaved Africans to work the land so as to ensure strict adherence to a cyclical farming schedule.
In January that farm cycle meant spring was the time to clear the fields for planting the cash crops like wheat, oats, rye, flax, and household vegetables like Indian corn, beans, squash, potatoes, while June was for collecting wild fruits such as strawberries. August/September were for "making hay" from the meadow grass while September and October was harvest time for the digging of potatoes "and corn to be cut, carted home, and husked." (11) Animals such as hogs, between late fall through November to January, were butchered, salted and barreled for home consumption and regional markets. Lewis Morris of Monmouth County in East Jersey, and proprietor of Tinton Falls iron foundry and farm with a large enslaved population, in order to keep to the cyclical farm schedule in 1728 hired three black freemen and a number of whites, and paid them all ten shillings to "make hay". (12) On western Long Island in Kings County where there was a heavy concentration of enslaved Africans held by small farmers, the farm workers of Benjamin Haynes of Flushing were "a servant [N]egro M[an], a servant [N]egro boy, one English boy, and one English boy-man." (13) Native Americans held as indentured servants, enslaved or hired were, at times, part of this work force. Long Islander John Bowne, in the last quarter of the seventeenth century, "hired a Native American to work his Flushing farm for nine days," while at Perth Amboy in East Jersey, just before the Revolutionary War, "Indian Ben", an indentured servant, absconded from his owner. (14)
The mainstay of the hinterland labor system was the African. Contract/wage laborers were what has been termed a "pool of supplementary labor," and called upon periodically to bolster the enslaved labor. (15) Farmers much preferred a more dependent though dependable African than the independent minded and not too dependable work habits of some contract/wage workers. As indicated above, the African was as skilled if not more so than some whites, and/or was an apprentice at a skilled trade. In the eighteenth century preference for enslaved Africans as laborers over that of whites was so high in Kings County that they were counted as one third of the total population, making Kings the largest slave-holding county by 1790. A similar preference was evident in three of New Jersey's counties as noted in 1756. They were Monmouth, Middlesex and Bergen. But of all the counties, it was Somerset County in the fertile Jersey Highlands that, between 1745-1790, had the highest percentage growth rate (10.46) for its enslaved population during that 45-year period. (16) On the Livingston Manor at the Ancrarn iron-works, Philip Livingston, not too pleased with the unreliability of his white wage laborers from Connecticut, and desiring a more skilled African workforce for the iron foundry asked his son, Robert, for one of his enslaved, "Dane, to work closely with the blacksmith to teach him the trade as he was already with five other Africans." On another occasion he wrote to Robert that he wanted "to buy two negro boys of 16 and 18 years to put to a smith hammerman" (forger). (17) In 1654 Nathaniel and Grizelle Sylvester, emigres from Barbados to Shelter Island off eastern Long Island, rather than have to depend on indentured servants or wage workers to get their holdings on the island functioning, brought four families of enslaved Africans from Barbados with them. (18)
Although the largest number of enslaved Africans was held by an assortment of small owners like farmers, merchants and professionals across the hinterland, a minority of individuals held enslaved Africans that could total ten, fifteen or even twenty or more. These were manor lords and those involved in other labor intensive, secondary commercial ventures like iron foundries, milling, logging and marine. The enslaved labored on farms beside their owners in the fields and home, on projects in which the products were bartered and/or bought with colonial specie, and/or were leased out to neighboring farms or local entrepreneurs. On the Hudson Valley estates it was possible for a visitor to remarked: "many of the old Dutch farms ... have 20 to 30 slaves [and] to their care and management everything is left." (19) On the lower Hudson at Morrisania in West Chester County, the Manor Lord, Lewis Morris, upon his death in 1691, held sixty-six enslaved Africans. South and east of New York City in New Jersey and on eastern Long Island, respectively, were forty enslaved Africans at the other Lewis Morris (mentioned above) Tinton Falls iron foundry in Shrewsbury Township, and "substantial numbers of African men and women" at the Sylvester estate on Shelter Island. (20) Holdings of the enslaved at either end of Long Island were characteristic of the attraction for such labor and its wide distribution in and among households. In the western part of the island where the need for farm laborers was great among mostly Dutch farmers in order to meet the produce needs in the region and in New York City, the percentage of households in the town of Brooklyn in 1698 with the enslaved was 33.7 percent but in 1731 it jumped to 66.3 pecent. New Utrecht household percentage was 47.7 percent in 1717 but made an enormous leap to 75.9 percent in 1790. In terms of African population density, such high holdings meant that New Utrecht, along with its sister town of Flatbush, had, respectively, a black population density of 38.4 percent and 41.4 percent of the total population of each town. Thus, as pointed out above, Africans (free and enslaved) were in the late eighteenth/early nineteenth centuries one third of the total population of Kings County. Out on the island's eastern end among the New Englanders, the percentage of households with the enslaved in 1776 ranged from a low of 14.6 percent and 14.4 percent for East and South Hampton, respectively, to a high of 41.5 percent for Smithtown and 30.4 percent for the Manor of St. George/Patent of Meritches. (21)
REGIONAL VIEWS: HUDSON VALLEY, NEW JERSEY AND LONG ISLAND
The number of Africans continued to increase on contested ground but they awaited the appropriate time to contest the inhumanity of their enslavement. The alien form of individualistic land tenure continued as well to undermined and erode more indigenous, collective forms, and while a worldwide economic system of commercial capital drew the once pristine hinterland and its entrepot of New York City more and more into the Atlantic system of international trade, the intruders, now settlers, adjusted their internal economy to meet the export/import demands of a modern world economy. Much of the adjustment was mirrored in a more diverse approach in exploiting the natural resources of the hinterland. The approach meant an improved infrastructure of roads and waterways that connected well designed villages and towns in the interior, increased manufacturing in milling such as grain, iron, logging and cloth, more independence in maritime commercial ventures, and the development of a self-sustaining population over that of subsistence.
The business acumen of the manor lords, patentees and farmers was the necessary panacea that energized the hinterland's economy, making it more responsive to the needs of an aggressively insatiable capitalist Atlantic trade network. With the cue from the city's resident financial and commercial managerial class, entrepreneurs in the interior intensified efforts to diversify their economic ventures. On the floor of the Hudson Valley where the most fertile agricultural and mineral rich land lay, manor lords like Frederick Philipse, Staphanus van Cortlandt, Robert Livingston, Philip Schuyler and others, encouraged their tenant farmers to increase the grain production. This was done to tap the rising demand for flour in markets of the Caribbean, Europe, in New York and other British colonies along the eastern seaboard. Small farmers in the interior increased production as well, and thus added to the overall increased grain production in the region.
In addition to grain production the wealthier landowners in the valley, and no doubt those west of the Hudson in New Jersey and on certain forested areas of Long Island, ventured into three other areas of investment. One was to log the forests that blanketed the hinterland in order to supply lumber to its urban and rural population growth, and elsewhere within the Atlantic trade network as well as lumber to build the vessels that sailed the rivers and oceans ferrying the products of that Atlantic connection to markets. In line with this the manor lords and patentees, who controlled rights to streams and rivers that meandered through their estates, maintained a monopoly over the construction along such waterways of grist- and sawmills that were used to generate power to process the grain and cut the lumber into staves for barrels and other building materials. A second investment was the iron foundry business into which potential New York entrepreneurs rushed to exploit so as not to be out performed by competing foundry owners in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The third venture was in the mercantile carrying trade, either as independent owners of vessels or in partnership with others.
The increased intensity with which the former intruders but now settlers exploited the natural resources with the three added investment schemes, and done in conjunction with an incipient growth in the white population in search of coveted space, meant the displacement of the dwindling bands of Algonquin-speakers, limiting them more and more to the less fertile, marginal uplands and coastal plains, or beyond the 100 mile radius of the Hudson River. (22) Many were assimilated to European culture and/or absorbed through marriage into the European and, in particular, the African populations. In 1777 a West Chester notice for a runaway described the male as "of a yellow complexion, part Indian." A 1768 notice in East Jersey indicated that Ishmael, a blacksmith, fled with a "Squaw for his wife." Native American males often married African females. (23) In the rising new cultural landscape, the Native American's place was taken by the enslaved African, chained to the economic exploits of the whites in an unequal, inhumane, chattel relationship. It was a relationship whose chains were persistently tested until at such time, metaphorically speaking, the "Achilles' Heel" of slavery could be found and severed. Until then, the enslaved Africans' labor input was a necessary ingredient in what had been called the "scramble" for wheat, iron and lumber profits, which was the carefully planned growth of gristmills, iron foundries and sawmills on the manors throughout the valley, with a heavier concentration on the upper Hudson.
The success of the "scramble" reverberated across the floor of the valley. On the lower reaches of the river in West Chester County, Frederick and his son Adolph had diversified investments to such an extent that by the last decades of the seventeenth century two gristmills, each with a pair of grindstones, were erected at Philipsburg (Tarrytown) on the Pocantico stream and at the "Lower Mills" at Yonkers. Further innovations saw, by 1750, two more pairs of stones added at each mill, and with an additional sawmill constructed at Philipsburg. Both the "Lower Mills" and Philipsburg remained, up to the Revolution, "equipped to handle grinding, bolting and the packing of flour," trades in which the enslaved Africans were highly skilled. This comes through in the 1750 sale of Adolph's personal possessions at his death. One of the Africans to be sold, either alone or with the mills at Philipsburg, was a "Miller" or "Negro man that understands grinding." (24) The Philipses' investment in the mercantile carrying trade was equally as successful because by 1690 they had set up a "commercial network" with ten of their own ships in interlocking trade with Europe, Africa and the lower South and West Indies. The crews of the Philipse's vessels were integrated. When the ship Margaret sailed for Madagascar in June 1698, it had among its crew two known Africans: "Frank, Mr. Cortland's Negro, [a] cooper [and] Maramitta ... cook." (25)
Above the Philipses on the Livingston Manor in northern Dutchess County, Robert Livingston had an added advantage in producing a higher yield of grain. The advantage was that between 1710 and 1718 one thousand Paletines (former German soldiers in Queen Anne's army, and their families) settled on the manor as tenant farmers. Robert acquiesced in their settlement because of the community's potential value as growers of the grain and buyers for the flour and lumber produced at the gristand sawmill. His ironworks at Ancram was part of the diversification schemes put in place, and as mentioned above, were worked both by enslaved Africans and whites. The ironworks were a 6,000-pound-sterling investment that had access to an abundance of iron ore and was highly productive. Robert Livingston, Jr. reported that between 1750 and 1756 Ancram's total output of pig iron was 3,318 tons, of which 1,302 tons were made into bars. And in addition to competition with iron smelting at Philipsburg, the Livingston Manor iron works also competed with three others in the immediate vicinity that used enslaved labor. They were the "works" at Cortlandt Manor which had "two furnaces and several blommeries," those at the Sterling Iron Works in Orange County, and in Bergen County at the Ringwood Iron Foundry in the Wanaque River Valley. (26)
It could be argued that until the Post-Revolutionary period, and despite an incremental growth in population in small towns and dispersed fanning households, much of the hinterland was frontier in relationship to New York City. The African both as laborer and companion (addressed below) was indispensable. The Schuylers of both Albany and Old Saratoga (Schuylerville) were virtually frontiersmen, especially when at their estate in Old Saratoga. Like other whites they were dependent on enslaved labor to work the land and as domestics. In order to benefit from the growing market demands for hinterland goods, they adjusted their agricultural exploits and financial investments to meet those demands. On their Old Saratoga holdings the Schuylers' male slaves cut trees in the winter and, at an adjoining sawmill, milled them into planks, staves (for barrels), and other lumber articles for the West Indian market where they were shipped along with the year's production of flour. West of Old Saratoga in the Mohawk Valley, above Albany, Sir William Johnson, Indian Agent, and with a large contingent of over sixty enslaved Africans on his farmlands, erected a grist-and sawmill. With enslaved African labor, Johnson's lumber industry produced boards, staves, and masts that, like his commodities of flour and wheat, were a very profitable export trade to the West Indies and the New York market. Johnson's sawmill at Amsterdam in Montgomery County was the first in the region in 1742. (27) The success of the "scramble" was such that, two years before the American Revolution, Henry J. van Rensselaer of Rensselaerwyck at Claverack in Columbia County, sent a sloop down the Hudson filled with goods destined for markets in New York City and those of the Atlantic connection. The sloop's manifest of June 1774 read: 6578 pitch-pine boards, 1331 bushels of wheat, 243 barrels of flour, 52 1/2 firkins of butter, 186 barrels of corn, and 1 horse and carriage. All produced by enslaved African labor. (28)
In the extreme north of the valley on the southern tip of Lake Champlain at the British outpost of Skenesborough (Whitehall), enslaved Africans were put to work by the few who braved the unknown of the frontier, beyond which hostile French and "Indians" were garrisoned. One very successful entrepreneur was Lord Philip Skene, after whom the outpost was named. In response to the heightened intensity of the hinterland's economy, Lord Skene's adjusted financial investments involved the exploitation of the mineral and lumber resources of the region by his enslaved Africans. The Africans, in addition to processing lumber at the sawmill, manned scows and boats on nearby rivers to transport iron ore mined from Cheever's Hole north of Fort Henry to be smelted and forged at Skene's iron foundry. The boats and scows (perhaps even the African pilots?) were later commandeered by Benedict Arnold and incorporated into the fledging patriot navy during the American Revolution. (29) One of the few business females in this scenario of heightened intensity of economic exploits on the floor of the valley was Madam Brett of Fishkill Landing on the middle Hudson below what was developing to be Poughkeepsie City in Dutchess County. With the town's only gristmill, Madam Brett attracted customers from both sides of the river who brought their harvests of grain to be ground into flour at the mill. (30)
The economic exploits of Madam Brett and those of her customers of small farmers were duplicated in farming communities west of the Hudson River in New Jersey. There small farms either within farm communities or dispersed some distance from them with one or two, maybe three enslaved Africans, large farms and/or plantations with six or more Africans, and would-be entrepreneurs, adjusted their economic exploits to meet the needs of that aggressively insatiable Atlantic trade nexus. Much of this adjustment as well was geared toward rising population centers like Bergen, Perth Amboy, Elizabeth, Jersey City, Shrewsbury and Newark adjacent to navigable waterways of the Raritan, Passaic, Navesink, and Hackensack rivers. Yet the Atlantic trade nexus would absorb a good percentage of the agricultural and secondary industrial goods. This post-1664 Jersey activity of the hinterland's economic system was centered on farms in the river valleys of the Inner Coastal Plain, those of the Piedmont, Highlands and Ridge sections of what became, after 1702, East Jersey. Slave holding, as indicated above, in this part of New Jersey grew intense in the eighteenth century as was pointed out for Somerset County. Between 1665 and 1702, the period of proprietary rule, settlements of dispersed farming communities spread out from the coast along three tracts of highly fertile, pre-Columbian, Native American farmland, while incorporating aspects of indigenous agronomy into how the land was cultivated. One tract of this most productive soil stretched from the mouth of the Navesink River (Perth Amboy), southwest within the Inner Coastal Plain to the Delaware River Valley, part of which after 1702 became West Jersey. A second tract lay along the Hudson, Hackensack and Passaic rivers, and a third stretched northwest straddling the Piedmont and Highlands. (31)
It was in the eighteenth century that a significant rise in the enslaved African population occurred. During the 1665-1702 period in East Jersey the numbers were fairly small (120 by a 1680 estimate) but with isolated pockets of individuals owning more than the average of 2-3 enslaved. One of those was the Barbadian emigre Lewis Morris of Monmouth County, who operated an iron "plantation" at Tinton Falls with the use of sixty to seventy enslaved Africans, a number of whom worked along side white waged laborers. At the time of Morris' death in 1691, an inventory of his plantation included "22 male Negroes, 11 women, 6 boys, 3 girls, and 25 children under ten years of unknown sex." (32) The iron output from Morris' foundry, and those foundries in West Jersey, fed into the wealth of hinterland goods destined for markets in New York City and others tied to the Atlantic international trade nexus.
Lewis Morris was part of what can be termed a Barbadian (English) diaspora that impacted the hinterland in the wake of England's capture of New Netherlands. Nathaniel Sylvester of Shelter Island was part of this diaspora of white slave holders to New Jersey and New York. New Jersey Barbadians, on the whole, concentrated their settlements on a peninsula of land between the Passaic and Hackensack rivers, an area out of which were carved the counties of Bergen (formerly New Barbadoes Neck), Essex, Middlesex and Somerset, as well as northern Monmouth. Given large land grants, perhaps as incentives to immigrate, Barbadians utilized their West Indian expertise with "black [enslaved] agricultural labor" on their East Jersey holdings. (33) An outcome of this Barbadian invasion and the presence of a larger pool of enslaved laborers, were higher yields of farm produce and goods like iron, lumber, woolens and linens produced by secondary industries. A good deal of the iron and lumber was produced in the Outer Coastal Plains of West Jersey (with predominately white wage workers) or in the north in the vicinity of the New Jersey/New York border (Bergen and Orange counties). In New Barbadoes Neck (Bergen) plantation holders of 2000-acres or more used their enslaved Africans exclusively as farm workers producing barley, rye, oats, corn, tending to farm animals, and as domestics. Among the farmers was Captain John Berry who worked twenty or more Africans on his 2000-acres farm. His son-in-law, resident on an adjoining farm owned sixteen enslaved Africans, while a half hour ride south from him was a neighbor with eight enslaved African laborers. (34) The Barbadians and Dutch were joined in Bergen and in the other four counties by Huguenots, New Englanders from New England proper or from the eastern end of Long Island, and Palatines (Germans) from the Hudson Valley bringing with them existing slave holdings. Indentured Servants of Scots and Scots-Irish backgrounds were brought in as well. By the end of the first quarter of the eighteenth century, proportionately, there were more blacks than whites in these five counties, which made whites only 54.8 percent and blacks 74.20 percent of the colony's total population. (35)
One Bergen resident that contributed to the growth of the county's enslaved population was the Dutchman Arnot Schuyler, owner of a considerable number of enslaved African farm workers. In addition to investments in agriculture, Schuyler was part owner with John Watts of New York City, of the slaver Catherine that was heavily involved in the Atlantic connection, carrying Africans for sale to the ports of Perth Amboy and New York City. In the summer of 1731 the Catherine's African cargo was a financial success at both ports. In 1733 the Catherine, in a repeat of her financial success two years earlier, arrived in the harbor of Perth Amboy just in time for the harvest with a cargo of one hundred Africans purchased by farmers in Monmouth and adjacent counties. (36)
Arnot Schuyler's considerable number of enslaved Africans and their work regimen was mirrored among Dutch farmers in neighboring Morris County as depicted in a 1768 advertisement for the sale of a 2000-acres "valuable tract ... of [farm] land." The farm's twenty enslaved not only did the farming, they tended "the largest and finest Breed of Cattle in America, imported from Holland, and as good Horses as any Province." In addition to fanning and handling farm animals, a number of other skills that Africans had were listed: "among which is a good Blacksmith, a Mason, and a Shoe-maker." (37) Such farming skills were evident as well in a notice for the sale of Cato in Monmouth County. "Cato," it read, "understands Husbandry in all its parts, and excellent hand with a scythe in grass or grain." (38) Many of the enslaved were domestics or house servants, and among the wealthy they were kept well clothed and on displayed as part of the family's conspicuous consumption. In Perth Amboy it was remarked by one resident with respect to such consumption "every house in my native place where any servants were to be seen, swarmed with black slaves." And the poor mimicked the slaveholders. One, Thomas Wobbly of Shrewsbury in Monmouth County in 1702 had an estate valued at 29 English pounds that included an enslaved African worth 12 of those pounds. (39)
The owner of the endowed farm in Morris County, no doubt, benefited from the Barbadian immigrants to the region in terms of increased productivity because of the shared knowledge about their West Indian expertise with enslaved agricultural workers. But the "expertise" had a far wider impact than simply agriculture. It included a systemic change in the institution of slavery that reverberated across the hinterland. The institution became a more restricted slave system from that under the Dutch, and exacerbated by increased volatility between the enslaved and enslaver on already highly contested ground.
To the east of New York City on the western end of Long Island in the two counties of Kings and Queens, between the end of the seventeenth century and the first quarter of the eighteenth century, the ownership of the enslaved, as stated above, was widespread, and more so as small scale farming moved from subsistence to producing a surplus for local and New York City markets. Households in Brooklyn had the highest percentage of enslaved at that time of 66.3 percent. Slave holding cut across social and economic boundaries, touching small farmers with up to 20 acres, middle class to wealthy farmers of 40 to 100 acres, and a small class of planters with an average of 215 acres tied up in farm, wood, and meadowlands. The average number of enslaved per household was 2-3 but numbers for some owners could range from a low of 5 to 7 or as high as 8 to 15. Examples of this range was Charles Bridges of Flushing in Queens with 110 acres, of which 50 was under cultivation and 60 in meadow for his 57 farm animals, and all tended by eight enslaved Africans. There was Thomas Smith of Oyster Bay-Jericho in Queens with a farm of 125 acres, of which 100 was under cultivation, 25 in woodlands for some of his 118 animals, and all worked and cared for by those of his enslaved population of eleven: 3 men, 3 women and five children. And although Albert Voorthees maintained a modest farm of 35 acres, he was the largest single owner of the enslaved in the town of Gravesend in Kings County with seven Africans, as opposed to the 48 acres of John Furbosh of Flushing whose three enslaved Africans had to farm 18 of those 48 acres while tending 94 animals on 30 acres set aside for meadowland. (40)
Social and economic boundaries among farmers were not the only ones affected by ownership of the enslaved, occupational boundaries were affected as well. On Long Island as elsewhere, merchants, inn- and storekeepers, butchers, millers, gentlemen and gentlewomen, and colonial and religious officials were caught up in the business of owning human property. Purchased from a number of sources in both the external and internal slave trade for an average pre-1750 price of 35 British pounds and 70 pounds or more after the date, African men, women, and children, as a commodity in great demand, added tremendously to the overall economic and financial success of the farming communities of towns and villages in the hinterland. Enslaved African males accounted for 42 percent of all recorded sales, females were 34 percent, while children ten years or younger were either sold or given to relatives and friends. (41) Two examples in the handling of children that stirred the winds of volatility on contested ground. A Newtown resident of Queens County gave his neighbor "ye [two month old] daughter born to his slave couple, Abraham and Martha." And as punishment for refusing to go to New York City with her new owner, Henry Thomas, an enslaved mother had her female child sold away from her. (42) Africans were bought and sold across the island, with some not limited to one owner during their enslavement but sold and resold several times. Phillis, as a human commodity, was sold and resold six times, moving from owners on Long Island to owners in both New York City and New Jersey. "Jack began his odyssey among ten different buyers on both sides of the Hudson River at age twelve." (43)
African males of all ages and skills worked efficiently and productively in what has been described as a "multi-occupational and mobile rural-urban labor force." (44) The enslaved males of John Baxter not only worked on his Queens County farm, they hunted and fished for him, and were, on occasion, hired out "to work as day laborers and as carpenters." (45) Females, when not in the fields, performed a variety of domestic chores. An advertisement for the purchase of an enslaved African female expressed the need for a "[N]egro woman that understands house work and cooking." (46) But women could be as "multi-occupational" as enslaved African men. Black Mary for one, an enslaved owned by John Bowne of Flushing in Kings County, had a work regimen where she had to "weed the Indian corn, [to] harvest ... and haymaking, when she could be spared from garden, orchard, and cording work." (47)
Two financially productive and agriculturally diverse farming ventures on the island were at its eastern and western ends, and whose produce fed local markets, those of New York City, and eventually into the markets of the Atlantic trade network. On eastern Long Island was the Sylvester farm (one among a few large slave holders on Shelter Island), with its substantial numbers of enslaved African men, women and children, of whom many were tied to the four families brought from Barbados. It is estimated that Nathaniel's twenty Africans and the "several more" of his wife's were part of a work force that was key to the success of the farming business. In 1695 that success was wrapped up in a farm that "contained an orchard and cider mill that produced cider, butter, cheese, corn, oats, wheat, and fodder," and with many farm animals. (48) On the western end of the island at Hendrick I. Lott's farmstead in the town of Flatlands in Kings County, twelve enslaved Africans composed the work force in the mid-eighteenth century. The Lott's house, built near a tidal inlet creek not far from the Atlantic Ocean, overlooked an efficiently run, highly productive farm. The enslaved cultivated wheat, corn and other grains as well as vegetables that were harvested and processed for market, tended fruit orchards and cared for a variety of dairy animals. The farm goods were first marketed in Flatlands and later "sold to the markets in the town of Brooklyn and New York City." (49)
Enslaved along with Africans, and at times as indentured servants and wage-workers, Native Americans were an important, early element in Long Island's "multi-occupational and mobile rural-urban labor force." They were particularly evident during the Dutch period and British period into the early eighteenth century. Slavery was resorted to by state courts as a means of punishment for criminal elements among Native Americans or for those captured in "just" wars. New Englanders who settled in New York brought a more developed practice with them where it "had been sanctioned by the Massachusetts Body of Liberties, the Connecticut Code, and by the New England Confederation." (50) As late as 1797, New York's New Jersey neighbor saw such a practice sanctioned by the High Court's Chief Justice when he wrote that Native Americans "have been so long recognized as slaves in our law ... " that their freedom is out of the question because property rights are protected by that same law. (51) The practice included, on Long Island, some of the more indigenous bands of Native Americans. Hopewell, an indentured Native American, had the balance of his "nineteen years" sold to a South Hampton minister, Rev. Thomas James. Skilled in the South Hampton whaling industry, independent Native American, Paquanaug, along with other Shinnecocks, hired out for three years on a whaling ship. In Suffolk County in 1712 laborers on the St. George Manor of William Smith were a mixed work force of enslaved Africans and enslaved Native Americans. Earlier, in the western part of the island at Hempstead in 1687, an unknown Native American's humanity was commodified and sold at auction: a tragic result of an intrusively alien form of land tenure, itself an extension into the hinterland of an insatiably aggressive Atlantic economic system. (52)
What is of note here for Long Island, and in a proportionate way for the whole of the contested ground, is the idea that the productivity of enslaved labor was dependent and/or "modified" by the age structure of that population. Given the percentage of children and older people in the enslaved population, "at any given time one half of a town's enslaved population was dependent rather than immediately productive." The productive age range was as follows: 50 percent were prime laborers between the age of 14/16 and 45/60; 40 percent of the enslaved were children; 14 percent was over the age of 45; and 6-7 percent was over 60 and male. (53) In spite of the age structure, that 50 percent by 1750 was the adhesive that held family farms together and bolstered the work force of villages and towns, and was a crucial generator of wealth in the hinterland's economy. The growth of the institution of slavery within fifty miles of the entrepot of New York City alone was proof enough. By the 1750 date "over ten thousand of the [enslaved] lived within fifty miles of Manhattan Island, the largest such congregation north of the Chesapeake." (54)
DEFINING OF RELATIONSHIPS: MASTERS AND SLAVES, SLAVES AND FREEMEN
The emergence of that new, more dominant culture out of the clash of Native American and European cultures carried with it a key ingredient in its staying power on contested ground-that "largest such congregation north of the Chesapeake." In an unequal, potentially volatile relationship, the African and European, together, forged a reconfiguration of the cultural landscape of the hinterland and its major entrepot, New York City. It was the nature of this forged reconfiguration that became an added spark to the overall volatility of the widening vortex of contested ground post-1664. The added spark was the codification of how black and white, Christian and heathen related to one another. Much of this codification was the embodiment of the Duke's Law of February 10, 1665, New York's slave codes. From a rather "immature slave system" where "half freedom" for Africans was more like a lifetime of indentured servitude, and/or "a matter of custom rather than law," Dutch slavery metamorphosed into a more entrenched, potentially explosive system as evident by the arrival of the Barbadians. (55)
Under the Duke's Law of 1665, slavery in New York was no longer "a matter of custom" but was by law "a matter of color." (56) Through a series of legislative decrees and amendments between 1665-1717, the British government sought to control the behavior of Africans as well as limit the rights of owners over their human property. Africans because of their color and the nature of their incorporation into colonial New York were defined as slave, powerless, and all newborns followed "ye state and condition of the mother." Baptism (Christian conversion) did not change the status of the enslaved. (57) In the wake of the hinterland murder of the William Hallet, Jr. family in Newtown, Queens County, and the "Negro Plot" of 1712 in New York City, the end result of the volatility that gripped the Hudson region, "An Act for Preventing, Suppressing and Punishing the Conspiracy and Insurrection of Negroes and other Slaves" was passed by the colonial legislature. The Act limited the numbers of Africans in a group to "no more than three ... other than in employ of masters." Punishment was to be done by the town's "common Whipper," and the enslaved caught with hot coals without the permission of his/her owner was summarily put to death. (58) Europeans because they were white were free and powerful, and white indentured servants were protected by an amended law of 1674 that read "no Christian shall be kept in bond-slavery." (59) And in a move to discourage owners from freeing their human property, a 1717 law called for a security of 200 pounds British sterling and 20 pounds yearly as maintenance for the freeman. (60) One of the most vicious acts directed at the humanity of the African, both free and enslaved, was the 1713 act barring Africans from ownership of land or any other property. Enacted during the reign of Queen Anne (1702-1714) the Act, with a "mighty stroke [of a pen by the Queen], deprived freed Negroes [Indian and Mulatto slaves] or their children of the right to hold property with the privileges pertaining thereto." (61) Not only did the Act seek to prevent future black property owners but as well to undermine and destroy a preexisting class of black property holders from the Dutch period, thus further aggravating a tenuous modus vivendi on contested ground between enslaver and the enslaved.
Living at times in "ethnic isolation" (62) within dispersed farming communities, and totaling on average per household 1-2 or 3, most enslaved Africans resided in the same living quarters with their owners, in the attic, basement, or they bedded down in a room adjacent to the kitchen. The wish for personal space away from prying, white eyes was not an option in such a close setting. Slavery as a power relationship, was moderated somewhat in a frontier setting where the variable of dependency was mutual for both black and white, especially for whites where they grew accustomed to their (Africans) face and at ease in their presence. In such a situation the enslaved became part of the owner's "kitchen family." (63) On this point the French emigre, Hector St. John de Crevecoeur could remark of his "kitchen family" on his Pine Hill estate in Orange County that "the few Negroes we have are at best our friends and companions ... the industrious family, all gathered to gether [sic] under one roof, eat ... drink ... and grow imperceptibly less talkative." (64)
Where the numbers of enslaved Africans were larger or owners were fairly well off, separate buildings and/or outhouses were used. The enslaved Africans at Lewis Morris' Tinton Falls iron foundry were housed separately from white workers. This was so unlike the indentured and enslaved labor on the Philipsburgh Manor, where a total of 26 indentured servants and 30 Africans were housed in the third floor attic of the Philipse manor house, and with "little privacy afforded family members in such close quarters." (65) A Hessian officer who fought with the British in the American Revolution, lend support to outhouses for the enslaved as he traveled through Columbia County. (66) He observed that many homes had "a negro family living nearby in an outhouse. The enslaved Africans of the Schuyler family in Albany were initially housed in such a building before fire destroyed it, and the Africans then were housed in the attic of the mansion.
Some Africans because they had created for themselves a special place in the heart of their owner, received preferential treatment in terms of housing. Caesar, an enslaved of the Rensselaer Nicoll family of the Bethlehem Estate in Albany County, and who eventually lived to be 115 (1737-1852), was given enviable living quarters. In his old age Caesar was given "a room on the ground floor of the kitchen extension of the old house, which room had an out door entrance, a stoop, and a large open fire place." (67) This was in stark contrast from the conditions Sojourner Truth, family members, and others were subjected to in the Charles Hardenburgh household of Ulster County in the early nineteenth century. "Isabella (Sojourner Truth) remembered ... the damp, cold cellars ... small windows [that] admitted little light ... flagging and broad floors were invariably cold ... [and slept] like the horse, with little straw and a blanket." (68)
Although Isabella suffered the absence of material comforts, she could, at least initially, speak to what many of the enslaved could not, a nuclear family and/or an extended one headed by a single male or female. Sojourner witnessed such a family until her siblings were gradually sold off. But for others the small numbers of enslaved held in dispersed farm households in unbalanced sex ratios, in areas of low population density, and in "ethnic isolation," a nuclear family was not always practical: an extended, "de facto family" but not a nuclear family. (69) Because of what some have characterized as "abroad marriages" (spouses owned by different owners), and with off springs referred to as "scattered children," family life for the enslaved "involved an ever-changing network of long distance relationships." (70) But a minority of the enslaved, in holdings of 6 or more, did go through Isabella's family experience. East of New York City in Kings County, African family life was possible as a result of high population density. The high density speaks as well to the dichotomous approach to the ownership of Africans held by Dutch settlers as opposed to English settlers. The population density of Africans in Kings County was high, and Dutch households held the largest numbers. This was the same for Bergen County in New Jersey and for the Dutch in the Hudson Valley. The seven enslaved Africans of Albert Voorhees of Gravesend in Kings County, mentioned above, meant family was possible, as was the case for the eight held by Charles Bridges of Flushing in Queens County.
With Respect to that minority who experienced nuclear and/or extended families, three examples stand as historical witnesses. The first is that from the holdings of Lewis Morris at the Tinton Falls iron foundry. Given the large number of enslaved at Tinton Falls in Shrewsbury Township in Monmouth County, paring of male and female took place and nuclear families flourished. What also is of interest about Lewis Morris' operations was the natural replication of the enslaved population as a result of nucleated families, and bolstered by an African tradition of a "compound style of living [that undoubtdly] promoted the practice of polygamy." (71) The second example is that of the Sylvester farm on Shelter Island with its four families of enslaved Africans brought from Barbados. A glimpse of these four is seen in Nathaniel's 1679/80 will in which he bequeathed them to his wife and children. He gave his wife "negro Jaquero, Hannah his wife, and their daughter Hope." To his three sons he gave "the three married enslaved couples." The three couples were: Tony and his wife Nanny, Joffet and his wife Jenine, and Tamus and his wife Pym. Five young females of the couples and of Jaquero and Hannah were distributed among the Sylvester daughters. The four couples were bequeathed in this fashion "as nuclear family and married couples" in order to keep family members together. (72) The third example is that of Philipsburgh in West Chester north of New York City around 1750. Two to three nuclear families were possible out of the large numbers of Africans that comprised a managerial team at the upper mills in consort with a white overseer. Strong evidence for family was "name sharing across generations," and use of certain terminology to differentiate age range. In the Philipse's 1700 will, there is the indication of "Harry with his wife and child," or "the indyan woman Hannah and her child.' In that same year the manor could differentiate between Susan the old one and Susan the younger, while in 1751 reference was made to the manor's boatman, Diamond the father as opposed to little Diamond, perhaps the boatman's son. (73)
Notices about enslaved runaways and records of church baptisms bolster the literature on families of the enslaved. On the middle Hudson at Poughkeepsie in the late eighteenth century (1789), a black male named Ishmael, enslaved to John Freer of that city, fled his bondage with all three of his children: "2 sons, 13 and 6, [and] daughter about 19 months old." (74) At Albany in the Anglican Church of St. Peters on May 31, 1761, Albany and his wife, Betty, were witness to the baptism of their child, Jacob, and the three were owned by Hendrick Blyke. (75) Later on March 20, 1763, Abraham and Febe mirrored that "abroad marriage" and/or were part of that "ever-changing network of long distance relationships," as they stood in St Peters to witness the baptism of their child, John. Abraham was the enslaved of Tobias van Sleek, and Andrew Huick owned Febe. (76) In an attempt to keep the family together, John Baxter of Queens County wrote in his journal on June 30, 1800 that "A. Wyckoff purchased Harry, a black and Bet his wife, and Peg her child from widow Lott for 180 [pounds]." (77)
Part of the reconfiguration of the cultural landscape was the redefining of the African family so that its center was not the father, not the mother or any significant black person other than the white owner. Yes, there existed nuclear and extended African families when and where such appropriate variables like balanced sex ratios and high population densities were evident. Where they did exist family members were never guaranteed long-life together because of the economic whims of the owners. The loss of brothers and sisters as a result of being sold off the Hardenburgh farm wounded the heart of young Sojourner Truth. Ishmael's flight from bondage in Poughkeepsie, New York, with his three children was a passionate attempt to save his family, and perhaps avoid the fate of his wife, carried away by a new owner. An 1789 newspaper notice listed for sale a Negro wench with her two children, "male and female, or without them." (78) Destruction of families and the emasculation of the father figure were part and parcel of an open wound being forged into the new cultural landscape. It would molt and fester across contested ground with destructive consequences for the African family far into the future.
If families were to be broken up, children and/or one or both parents sold off, it was within what has been characterized as a "multi-faceted internal slave trade," that the enslaved found room to maneuver for leverage in order to retain a semblance of control over the sale of self or offspring. (79) The enslaved as well sought to create within what was the owner's space, a corner of privacy ("carved social space") from prying, white eyes. (80) In the sale of a child, the word of its mother, occasionally, carried weight. "They [enslaved children] were never sold without consulting their mother; who ... would not allow her child to go into any family with those domestics she was not acquainted." (81) If it was the sale of a parent or both, depending on the owner, arrangements were made either by the individual to be sold going in search of a new owner or the wish of the enslaved was included in the sale notice. John Baxter's journal is instructive on this point. On October 18, 1810 and June 10, 1811 Baxter's entries were, respectively, "Hannah my slave looking for a master," and "Hannah the Negro wench came back having found a master as she says." (82) In an 1812 for sale notice, and enslaved African woman wished to be sold "for no fault, but wishes to reside in Poughkeepsie where her husband lives." (83) Or, in an earlier 1795 Poughkeepsie Journal sale notice for a couple and their two-year old child "said to be sold or exchanged at their request." (84) Now the "social space"/corner of privacy that the enslaved sought, if it existed at all, overlapped and intertwined with that of the owner. But this overlap and intertwine of space under the Dutch deviated enormously in post-1664 New York with the arrival of the British and the deleterious turn the forging of the reconfigured cultural landscape took.
The overlap and intertwine of space under the Dutch not only carried with it the status of half freedom for the African, with certain rights and privileges, but as well carried the status of independent African, free of any obligations to the company. The forging of a new cultural landscape, given added force in 1713 by the decree of Queen Anne in regards to land and other property, sought to forge a more proscribed, materially dispossessed African rather than one materially affluent. On contested ground where elements of European mercantilism were being grafted onto an alien form of land tenure, there would be few competitors in the "scramble" for resources of this once pristine region.
The Queen Anne's decree of 1713 had more clout on paper than in reality. Preexisting free African communities and property holders proved to be uncooperative in the reconfiguration of the cultural landscape. They would not be moved and their existence stretched back to early Dutch settlements. They were that initial half freedom group released by the Dutch West India Company in 1644, and went up above New Amsterdam to build homes and cultivate lands adjacent to the Fresh Water Pond (The Collect). It was a few among them, "free black and mulatto males who bought shares in the Tappan Patent in the upper Hackensack River Valley in ." (85) Two of the shareholders were Claes Manuel (Emanuel) and John De Vries with extensive landholdings in northeast New Jersey on the lower Hudson, and whose descendants of mixed African, European and Native American heritage settled in the Ramapo Mountains, in such present-day towns like Mauwau, New Jersey and Hillburn, New York. (86)
De Vries and Manuel were simply two of the many little-known free Africans who added an important thread to the new emerging cultural landscape that spread across contested ground before and even after the enactment of Queen Anne's decree. African landowners were in evidence on property immediately adjacent to New York City, across the East River in towns like Brooklyn and Bushwick. Jan Francisco and Anton the Negro, two from among that first group of half freedom in 1644, were signers of the petition to charter the town of Bushwick, in which subsequently Francisco became one of its burghers as well as having owned land in New Amsterdam. (87) At the far end of Long Island "Peeter the Neigro [was granted three acres of land in 1659 in some convenient place at Southhampton [in exchange for his] land at Cobbs Pound." (88) Up the Hudson River at Kingston in 1670, a free African, Dominikus Manuel or "Mingus the Negro," went to court on two occasions to legalize his purchase of a stallion and mare so as to get started in the business of breeding horses. (89) Free Africans were tenant farmers before the decree like John Speedwell of Woodbridge, New Jersey in 1707, or "those black tenants in the Highlands of the East New Jersey Proprietors" as late as 1741. (90) When the Common Council of New York City, in conjunction with the Colonial Assembly, moved to restrict enslaved African vendors "from Long Island and New Jersey" in the sale of vegetables and oysters, and with this compounded by the reconfiguration of the cultural landscape which sought to undermine a tenuous socioeconomic status of free Africans as well as drive a social wedge between white and black, the dye was cast. (91) It was simply a matter of time before a highly volatile situation, as happened with both the Hallet murders of 1708 and the slave rebellion of 1712, shook the region, sending shock waves of bloodshed across contested ground.
In spite of what England intended the new cultural landscape to look like, Africans were steadfast in their input to the design. Free Africans with their landholdings in rural areas or owners of urban property and/or renters, carved out that "social space" for themselves and family away from the prying, white eyes. (This was a must for the enslaved even if it overlapped and intertwined with that of the owner.) They created caring, nurturing, and religious communities up and down the Hudson Valley, on the hilly and flat lands of Long Island, and in the river valleys and coastal plains of New Jersey. If not a predominantly African community (enslaved or free), many of them were mixed communities of African, European, and Native American descendants. Because they were caring communities, free of racial strife, interracial couples were attracted to them. John Decker's flight from his indentured on Staten Island was perhaps to one of these communities on Long Island to be with "a negro wench of middle size, with child ... " Mary Woods, from New Jersey, white and with child, fled with Ned, an enslaved African, from his owner to such a community. (92) Ned was the father of the child. In the Hudson Valley such communities were those like "Eagle's Nest" in the mountains of Hurley in Ulster County, "Freemanville" and "Baxtertown" east and west, respectively, in southern Dutchess County, "The Hills" near Harrison in West Chester, and on the lower western rim of the river up in the Palisades, Skunkhallow. (93) The description of a free black presence in Kinderhook, Columbia County during the Revolution by a young Hessian Officer, paints a vivid picture of what such a community was like. "[In the town] many families of free negroes are also met with here ... It is an amusing sight to see a young negress-her woolly hair gathered up in a knot behind, a sun-bonnet perched upon her head, and encircled by a wrap-ambling along, with a [young] negro ... shuffling in her wake ... " (94) Of course there was the Ramapo Mountain people mentioned above in northeastern New Jersey; while strung the length of Long Island were such communities as "Success" and "The Brush" in Queens County, and that of "Freetown" at the far eastern end in East Hampton, reputed to have been "expansions of preexisting Native American settlements." (95) In the hills of Brooklyn, the roots of "Weeksville" were being planted. The road (metaphorically speaking) on which these communities grew, in terms of race relations, reflected the mosaic that was an inherent outgrowth of the new cultural landscape, but unfortunately it was not the road taken in the post-colonial period. (96)
Exposed to the religious teachings of Anglicans (through the efforts of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, SPG), Quakers, Presbyterians, and Methodists, the enslaved and free of these communities accepted Christianity. From West Chester in November of 1710, SPG missionary Rev. John Bartow to his superiors in London: "I have lately baptized a free Negroe man and three children and a Negroe woman servant." (97) Between 1734 and 1731 in Jamaica, Queens County, the SPG's efforts at schooling included enslaved and free African children in attendance. And at Newtown in the same county, classes that were conducted in the Methodist Church were "composed of coloured people, probably slaves numbering about 40 ... " (98) Yet because of their African roots, the religion Africans accepted was characterized by a "fusion of Christianity and African cosmology," producing from among its converts black preachers often referred to as "Doctors." (99) An advertisement for a runaway from the Highlands of New Jersey in 1740 described the fugitive as "a great Doctor ... and says he is a Churchman," while another, in describing the individual, pointed out that he "preaches to his color ... mak[ing] a great show of religion, on which he has much to say." (100) In the late eighteenth century Peter Cuffee, of African and Native American descent, was commissioned by the New York Missionary Society to preach the word of God to the African and Shinnecock peoples. (101)
This "fusion of Christianity and African cosmology" was clearly evident in the annual African cultural celebration of Pinkster, acknowledged in New York City and the hinterland the seventh Sunday after Easter, which was Whitsuntide and/or Pentecost. A festival of Dutch origins and celebrated for a week, Pinkster was gradually taken over by the Africans to which they attached their African traditions of dance, dress, games, rituals and foods, creating, at least initially, a kind of syncretistic synergy of the two traditions. Pinkster celebration was a community affair, a time when barriers of racial proscription and exclusion gave way to a week of racial inclusion. It was a time when contested ground was common ground, and on which they all gathered to dance, play, and be merry on Pinkster. For Africans it was a time to strengthen bonds of family, friendship and community. It was a time when "abroad marriages," "scattered children," and/or the "network of long distance relationships" were put on hold because Pinkster united rather than divide.
The words of the 1803 "Pinkster Ode" captures the essence of that respite from contested ground to common ground when the poet wrote: "Every colour revels there [on Pinkster ground], From ebon black to lillie fair ... From lowest born to high degree ..." (102) On Pinkster ground in Albany, celebrations were presided over by an enslaved African-born prince with the title of King Charles. When he was present at the celebrations he was recognizable "by his graceful mien ... for where he is folks gather round ... by his princely air ... and when you know him, then you'll see a slave whose soul was always free." Men and women, boys and girls, young and old used the festivities to drink deeply of a week of "freedom" from distress. They marched the Guinea dance, "Dancing true in gentle metre, moving every limb and feature." In New York City they competed in groups (Brooklynites, Long Islanders, Jerseyites, Yorkites) in the nimble art of such dances as the "jig" and "breakdown," and demonstrated their physical dexterity with the "shakedown"-a shingle on which the contestants stood while it was shaken vigorously by members of the opposing side. In Ulster County Sojourner Truth recalled the celebration as one, in the eighteenth century, presided over by a Prince Gerald who was reputed to have been a grandson of an African king. (103)
"In the process of acculturation slaves, [while warding off the worst effects of the reconfiguration of the cultural landscape], made European forms serve African functions." (104) One of those forms was Pinkster. The African contributions to Pinkster are appropriately referred to as Africansims and/or cultural retentions, and were forged into the new cultural landscape. As a result, Africanisms were able to survive within the institution of slavery in New York encapsulated in the celebration of Pinkster. These were passed on from generation to generation, reinforced and strengthened with the arrival of Africans from the continent, and, in time, left as markings of a people who in spite of slavery "carved social space" while forging their image on the land.
Those African cultural retentions etched into the new cultural landscape were markings for the African side of the enslaved and free on contested ground, and they come alive in Pinkster. What does not come through as clear, and this was a raison d'etre for the redefining of the African family, is the African voice. He or she is free and with property but without voice. The same is true for the enslaved, voiceless. The voice that is heard is that of the antagonist and/or owner. Some are heard because of the shadow they cast (a silent language) like Caesar who lived to be 115, outliving three of his owners: the first to whom he was given when they both were children, and the two who were the son and grandson. For that he was given adequate living quarters in his old age and buried in the Rensselear Nicoll family graveyard among Revolutionary warriors at Bethlehem. (105) There was Dina (Dinah) a cook in the Theophilus Anthony household, whose home was one of those targeted for destruction when the British penetrated the Hudson River as far as Kingston in 1777. When others had retreated inland, Dina remained at her station baking the day's quota of bread. She persuaded the soldiers sent up from the river not to burn the house by offering them the bread, which they accepted. For that she was given the honor of being buried in the family plot in the Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery. (106) Then there was the Revolutionary sentry John Peterson, who, while on guard at Croton Point, fired on a rowboat making its way out to a British frigate off shore in the Hudson. Seated in the boat was Major John Andre with plans to West Point given to him by General Benedict Arnold. Andre was forced to return to shore and travel overland to New York, but was captured in West Chester, tried and eventually hanged in 1780. (107) Images etched into the cultural landscape but without a voice. The few who did lend voice to the new cultural landscape were either the enslaved or freeman, if not on contested ground then in the aftermath of hinterland slavery.
One voice that comes through loud and clear is that of Jupiter Hammon, the enslaved of the Lloyd family on Long Island. Jupiter, born an enslaved on the Queens Village farm of the Lloyd family of Lloyd Neck, and whose mother was the enslaved named Rose, lived a uniquely, uncommon life of one in bondage. When of age he was permitted to attend schooling with the Lloyd children under the tutelage of the Harvard educated, Nehemiah Bull. He read much and at the age of fifteen purchased books of his own. He visited New England on occasions with the Lloyds, and when back on the Lloyd estate tended to his designated chores, one being the management of the Lloyd family accounts, and when time permitted "worked independently on his orchard where he grew food and sold a portion of it in the local markets," and all the time nurturing that African voice and weaving it into the cultural landscape. (108) Between 1760 and 1860 Jupiter's writing skills and literary ability earned this "atypical" enslaved accolades from both Blacks and Whites for his eight publications of poetry and prose addressed to fellow Africans. Paired at times with a younger contemporary, Phillis Wheatley of Boston, and to whom the addressed one of his poems in 1778, the two are viewed as laying the roots of the black literary style. (109)
Jupiter Hammon, it can be argued, delivered his literary success in the tradition of the "Doctors"-the African preacher. Because his voice, as embodied in his writings, did not undermine the institution of slavery, his publications were disseminated widely. His admonishing of his fellow Africans, both enslaved and free, was more of a plea to accept their less than perfect earthly conditions for more perfect ones or rewards in the other, heavenly world. Voicing the words of the apostles, Jupiter urged Africans to be obedient to their owners, "whether [slavery] is right, and lawful in the sight of God ... it is our duty to obey our masters, in all their lawful commands. ... " (110) Hammon was seventy years old when he wrote his address to the African Society in New York City in 1786, and in reminding them of that stated: "I have had more experience in the world than most of you ... my lot ... so much better than most slaves have had ... more advantages and privileges ... more than many white people have enjoyed, for which I desire to bless God, and pray that he may bless those who have given them to me." (111) Although he refused to be set free by the Llyods while all were in Hartford, Connecticut during the Revolutionary War, he did argue freedom for the young "who have a chance to prepare for life in a free state." (112) He was of the belief that it was the responsibility of owners of the enslaved to care for them in old age. The Revolutionary War to Jupiter was God's wrath on those (African and European) who sold Continental African captives in the Atlantic connection. "I am to remind you of a most melancholy scene of Providence; it has pleased the most high God, in his wise providence, to permit a cruel and unnatural war to be commenced." (113)
Jupiter Hammon, an accomplished enslaved African writer, and "atypical" of most enslaved because of his wide experiences, advantages, and privileges, used voice as a marking for his image in the new emerging cultural landscape. His voice acted more as a damper than a catalyst for a call to action, and thus the encouragement from his white readership "who thought [his publications] might do good among their [African] servants." (114) Jupiter the "Doctor" preached more of a prescription for pacifism than one of confrontation like the catalytic preaching that brought on the Slave Rebellion of 1712, the year prior to his birth. Such "doctoring" would await the more militant voices and their secular followings.
Another voice that arose in the hinterland as a marking on the cultural landscape, and a challenge to the redefining of the African family, was that of Venture Smith, who although not initially enslaved on contested ground, upon purchasing his freedom from his owner in Stonington, Connecticut moved across the Sound to eastern Long Island. Captured as an eight year old in Guinea, Africa, and sold into the Atlantic connection, Venture Smith languished in bondage until the age of thirty-six, purchasing his freedom for "seventy-one pounds two shillings." Leaving his family behind, he settled on Long Island growing watermelons and selling cords of wood on the island and across the Sound at Rhode Island. (115) The money he saved from the two ventures, coupled with other monies earned, were "to enable [him] to redeem [his] family." (116) At "forty years of age ... I purchased Solomon and Cuff, two sons of mine, for two hundred dollars each." (117) Solomon would later die on a whaling expedition of scurvy; but in his forty-fourth year he had recovered enough from the loss of Solomon to purchase his wife. "... I purchased my wife Meg, and thereby prevented having another child to buy, as she was pregnant. I gave forty pounds for her." (118) The family was almost total again, and Venture felt rather prosperous because of properties he held. It was his economic fortitude that saved him from expulsion from eastern Long Island as a result of "an act passed by the selectmen of the place, that all negroes residing there should be expelled." (119) Subsequent to this incident, Venture, at forty-six, completed the family circle by purchasing the freedom of Hannah, his oldest child, for forty-four pounds from a Ray Munford. Sometime earlier, in a spat of benevolence, Venture and his wife, over a period of months, purchased the freedom of three unrelated males. (120) Toward the end of Venture Smith's sojourn on Long Island, he sold all his property and moved back across the Long Island Sound with his family "into East Haddam," but not before etching his image on the land as a viably social and economic African competitor, and not that of one dispossessed and dependent. The reconfiguration of the social landscape was not following the design.
There would be other voices on contested ground after the demise of slavery: that of Sojourner Truth; James F. Brown, a freedom seeker from Maryland to the Hudson Valley in the Verplanck household at Fishkill Landing (Beacon) in 1826, the year before the official demise of New York slavery; and Henry Highland Garnet, a freedom seeker from Virginia as a youngster but who as a Presbyterian minister ("Doctor") at Troy, New York used his voice at the 1843 National Negro Convention in Buffalo to urge the enslaved in the South to strike the first blow for freedom. (121)
The tenuous modus vivendi of master/slave grew even more tenuous with attempts to stifle the voice in its efforts to hold the African family together, and as the treatment of the enslaved began to reflect the psycho, sexual, bizarre behavior of some owners of the enslaved. Such behavior was given vent and, to an extent, sanctioned by traditions out of England used against the poor and powerless, but in New York articulated in a legal system through the Duke's Law. At one end of a behavioral scale where good master/slave relations were "functional" in terms of the overall operations of the household, Africans had adequate shelter, food, and clothing. There was concern and attention given to the sick as was evident in the medical receipts of Pierre van Cortlandt, Jr., heir to the Cortlandt family estate at both Peekskill and Croton in Westchester County. The receipts and references to medical care the enslaved received ranged "from inoculations for the children, tooth extractions for Sal, vial drops for Sibby, to visits from Dr. Nathanial Drake to care for Tom and Titus." (122) When Titus was on his deathbed, Pierre, Sr. expressed his despondency over the impending death with the remark: "I am sorry for him and shall miss him." (123) Further up the river at the Livingston Manor, allotments of clothing were periodically purchased for the enslaved. In January of 1764 Quash, the manor's coachman, received a vest and britches and in May was given a suit of clothes, purchased at one pound and four shillings. (124) At the other end of the behavioral scale where the volatility was high and the modus vivendi had deteriorated beyond repair, the worst was acted out through the legal system and individual owners.
The Africans involved in the Slave Rebellion of 1712 received heinous death sentences by hanging and fire. The same punishment was meted out for those accused in the 1741 "Negro Plot" which also occurred in New York City. The punishment was that "thirteen black men burned to death at the stake. Seventeen black men hanged. Two white men and two white women also hanged." (125) In the hinterland of Monmouth County in 1695, two enslaved Africans, convicted of murdering their owner in revenge for the owner's murder of a female family member, escaped from authorities. When Jeremy and Agebee were apprehended, they were put to a horrible death. Jeremy was forced to watch his chopped off hand burn before him, and later hung until "dead, dead, dead!" (126) Agebee was put to death in the same fashion. In 1735 in Dutchess County, the enslaved, Quacko, was sentenced to thirty-nine lashes at Poughkeepsie and an additional forty-eight at Rhinebeck for attempted rape. (127)
The psycho, sexual, bizarre behavior of some owners of the enslaved were not aberrations on a continuum of slavery, but were clues to personality flaws that resulted from so-called carte blanche of control given to one human over another. Contested ground was permeated with such personality flaws, and their actions made a tenuous modus vivendi even more tenuous to the point of breakdown. At the western end of Long Island in the town of Brooklyn, an enslaved African female made plans to escape the abusive overtures of her owner. When he discovered her plan to escape he "hack[ed] off a part of [her] ear and bor[ed] a hole in the other through which he suspended a large iron padlock." (128) In the Newburgh area of Orange County on the Hudson River, that personality flaw was evident in an unusual form of punishment. The African was tied naked to a stake situated in a salt meadow. He was kept there for some time while he was "attacked and bitten by green and blue flies." Eventually his body swelled to a prodigious size, inducing either death or some severe trauma to the body. (129)
In the towns of Flatbush and Brooklyn, the phrases "cruelly used" and "shamefully abused" point to a possible psycho, sexual situation in which the enslaved African female was not a willing partner. The fallout from this was perhaps flight from bondage and the breakdown of the modus vivendi, or the eventual birth of a mixed (mulatto) child. On July 10, 1811 Rachel, age 18, was listed as a runaway and described as a mulatto at 5' 8" and "stout made, round faced; one of her under teeth shorter than the others ..." (130) In June of 1777, when contested ground had become the battleground of the American Revolution, Abraham, part Native American, and his wife, Moll, "a small mulatto wench ... and two negro children; one a boy three years old, the other a girl five months old," fled their enslavement on Pelham Manor in West Chester County. (131) Maria was a 27 year-old runaway from Somerstown in Westchester County, " ... a good size, and very good looking, with a scar in her breast, and some of her upper foreteeth defected." (132) If the female was the wife of an enslaved or freedman, this made the situation somewhat uneasy, and could, and did, explode into violence, as was the case in Monmouth County with the revenge murder committed by the enslaved Jeremy and Agebee. Violence as the result of an emotional wound inflicted by the owner because of his/her actions to an enslaved loved one broke out in 1715 on the Livingston Manor. John Dykeman, a tenant farmer and owner of some enslaved, was murdered by one of his Africans, Ben, for the sale of Ben's daughter off the manor to a Livingston family member in New York City. (133) In June of 1779 a reward was offered for the capture of Cuff who had escaped "from the Guard near Raritan Bridge" where he was being held for the murder of his owner, Joseph Moss of Stoney Hill in Somerset County, New Jersey. Moss was unrelenting in his abuse of a member of Cuff's extended family. (134) It was such acts of punishment and human indifference to the emotional attachments of the enslaved Africans that eventually collapsed the tenuous modus vivendi, spilling over into flight from bondage or violent confrontation on contested ground.
In reconfiguring the cultural landscape, the enslavers misinterpreted the will of the enslaved to resist depersonalization and dehumanization within and without the institution of slavery in New York. In the annals of history it is "resistance nor acquiescence" that is its core. (135) In the face of tremendous odds, the African, in a subtle determination, fought against the move to marginalize him/her in the new cultural landscape. They preserved a semblance of the African family as nuclear, extended or in non-consanguineous groups. They were steadfast in weakening the molding of a materially dispossessed and dependent African by nurturing a materially affluent African. And they marked the cultural landscape with their Africanisms encapsulated in the annual spring festival of Pinskter. In spite of the breakdown of the master/slave modus, vivendi, contested ground awaited a new antagonist and the deadly conflagration the American Revolution. Contested ground would then become the battleground where the clash was not cultural but one of ideologies, and where a paradox of freedom hampered the patriots' cause. Yet, nevertheless, together master, slave and freeman temporarily shored up the tenuous modus vivendi, and remade contested ground the crucible out of which rose an American people and an even newer cultural landscape tested in the throes of international human conflict.
The alien land tenure of the Hudson River's entrepot of New Amsterdam/New York and its hinterland of contested ground, was an extension of European mercantilism, itself the outgrowth of the capitalist world system. Situated on the periphery of a world economy increasingly dominated by a European presence, New York's role was producer of wealth to sustain a leisure class in the metropole. The wealth accrued as a result of the economic exploitation of the mineral and agriculturally rich woodlands of the river valleys, highlands and coastal plains within the one hundred mile radius of the Hudson River. The labor source was initially white indentured servants and Native Americans but eventually became enslaved Africans brought to the region through the Atlantic connection. Dependent on a legal system of enslavement, one of the most "oppressive" forms in the north, the British enslavers, with a predominantly African labor pool, but at times supplemented with free black, red and white wage workers, constructed a series of microcosmic metropoles in the hinterland like Albany, Poughkeepsie, Sag Harbor and Perth Amboy, that received the flow of goods from the interior and funneled them to New York City where they were then funneled into the international Atlantic trade network. The wealth accumulated from the Atlantic connection went to sustain a leisure class in the metropole-Europe.
Travelers through New York and its hinterland were aware of the quantity and quality of goods produced by African labor that flowed from the periphery to other regional markets and those of the Atlantic and Caribbean. Between 1754 and 1760, the traveler Burnaby remarked: "the people carry on an extensive trade ... they export chiefly grain, flour, skins, furs, pig iron, lumber, and staves [as well as] the manufacture of a small quantity of cloth." (136) The Englishman, William Strickland observed that from "New York [Perth Amboy and South Hampton], many parts of the continent are supplied with grain, and from [cities like] New York, [Newark, Poughkeepsie, Albany and Claverack], more grain and flour are exported than from any other port ... except, perhaps Philadelphia." (137)
The core of contested ground slavery was the Hudson River Valley, the heartbeat of colonial economic activity, and its marketable produce the sinews of that economy. So long as the farmers and entrepreneurs continued to reap good harvests of grain, raise good breeds of livestock, and exploit the lumber, manufacturing, and foodstuff industries, the sustaining force of the economy was assured. The Hudson River was the lifeline on whose currents hundreds of one-mast and two-mast sloops ferried the riches of the interior down to New York. From the city these hinterland goods were then funneled into the modern world capitalist system, one that accumulated enormous profits from the goods produced by the Herculean efforts of enslaved African labor. By the time of the American Revolution, the wealth garnered as a result of the use of African laborers on contested ground, made New York one of England's richest colonies along the eastern seaboard. It was wealth that Africans had a hand in producing but because of the unequal nature of the master/slave equation, their share was a handout. A larger share came forty-four years after the Revolution with the abolition of New York slavery on July 4, 1827.
(1) A. J. Williams-Myers is a member of the Black Studies Department, State University of New York at New Paltz, New York
(2) Cited in Richard Shannon Moss, Slavery on Long Island A Study in Local Institutional and Early African-American Communal Life (Garland Publishing, Inc.: New York & London, 1993),
(3) Vivienne L. Kruger, "Born To Run: The Slave Family in Early New York, 1626 to 1827 (Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 1985): Vol. I, 37-38.
(4) Oliver A. Rink, "Company Management of Private Trade: The Two Patroonship Plans for New Netherlands," New York History, 69 (January 1978): 25.
(5) Sung Bok Kim, Landlord and Tenant in Colonial New York (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1978), 28.
(6) Ibid., 235
(7) Ibid., 130, 237.
(8) Quoted in Peter O. Wacker, Land and People A Cultural Geography of Preindustrial New Jersey: Origins and Settlement Patterns (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1975), 169.
(9) William Strickland, Journal of a Tour of the United States of America 1794-1795, J.E. Strickland, ed. (New York: New York Historical Society, 1971), 163.
(10) La Marquise De La Tour Du Pim, Recollections of the Revolution and the Empire, edited and translated by Walter Geer (New York: Brentano's 1920), 234.
(11) Kruger, I, op. cit., 98.
(12) Graham Russell Hodges, Slavery and Freedom in the Rural North African Americans in Monmouth County, New Jersey, 1665-1865 (Madison: Madison House, 1997), 47.
(13) Moss, op. cit., 78.
(14) Wacker, op. cit., 107.
(15) Hodges, op. cit., 48.
(16) Wacker, op. c it., 194.
(17) Roberts Singer, "Slaveholding on Livingston Manor and Clermont, 1680-1800," Yearbook: Dutchess County Historical Society, 69 (1984): 60.
(18) Cf. Moss, op. cit., 41, 53, 134; Lynda R. Day, Making a Way to Freedom A History of African Americans on Long Island (Interlaken, N.Y.: Empire State Books, 1997), 24, 32.
(19) Strickland, op. cit., 163-164.
(20) Cf. Hodges, Day; A. J. Williams-Myers, Long Hammering Essays on the Forging of An African American Presence in the Hudson River Valley to the Early Twentieth Century (Trenton, N.J.: African World Press, 1994), 24.
(21) Cf. Kruger, I, op. cit., 90-93.
(22) For a look at the consequence of Native American and European interaction in "New Jersey see "The Lenape and their Significance," in Wacker, op. cit., Chapter 2, 57-119.
(23) Ibid., 202; Graham Russell Hodges and Alan Edward Brown, eds., "Pretends to be Free" Runaway Slave Advertisements from Colonial and Revolutionary New York and New Jersey (New York & London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1994), 202.
(24) Kim, op. cit., 166.
(25) Jacob Judd, "Frederick Philipse and the Madagascar Trade," New York Historical Quarterly (October 1971): 364.
(26) E.B. O'Callaghan, ed., The Documentary History of the State of New York (Albany, N.Y.: 1849): Vol. 1, 1730. Cf. David Steven Cohen, The Ramapo Mountain People (New Brunswick, N.J: Rutgers University Press, 1974): 76-77.
(27) Will of Sir William Johnson, 25 July 1774, "Abstracts of Wills," Collections (New York: New York Historical Society, 1919), 8: 185-91; E. Olson, "Negro Slavery in New York, 1626-1827" (Ph.D. diss., New York University, 1939), 42.
(28) "Sloop's Cargo Manifest, June 1774 Henry J. Van Rensselaer of Claverack." Chris Bowser, Education Director, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. "Teaching the Hudson Valley" Conference, Marist College, Poughkeepsie, N.Y. 21 July 2004.
(29) Personal correspondence with Ms. Doris B. Morton, Philip Skene of Skenes-borough (Gransville, N.Y.: Grastorf Press, 1959), 23, 32. Cf. Williams-Myers, op. cit., 175.
(30) "Madam Brett Homestead," Madam Brett's historical site. Beacon, N.Y..
(31) Wacker, op. cit., 107.
(32) Hodges, Slavery and Freedom, 9.
(33) Wacker, op. cit., 191.
(34) Ibid., 177, 191.
(35) Ibid., 191. Cf. Simeon E. Moss, "The Persistence of Slavery and Involuntary Servitude in a Free State, 1685-1866," Journal of Negro History, XXXV (1950): 289-314.
(36) Hodges, Slavery and Freedom, 9.
(37) Cited in Clement Alexander Price, Freedom Not Far Distant A Documentary History of Afro-Americans in New Jersey (Newark, N.J.: New Jersey Historical Society, 1980), 41.
(38) Cited in Hodges and Brown, "Pretends to Be Free," 69.
(39) Hodges, Slavery and Freedom, 21.
(40) Kruger, 1, op. cit., 94-96.
(41) Moss, Slavery on Long Island, 47-48.
(42) Ibid., 48.
(43) Ibid., 51.
(44) Ibid., 85-86.
(45) Ibid., 47.
(46) Ibid., 48.
(47) Ibid., 75; Kruger, op. cit., 99. Cf. Henry Onderdonk, "Farming in Olden Times in Queens County," Journal of Long Island History, 5 (1965): 1-17.
(48) Day, op. cit., 24.
(49) Hendrick J. Lott Farmstead/House historical site, Brooklyn, New York.
(50) Cited in Moss, Slavery on Long Island, 11.
(51) Ibid., 10-11. Cf. Wacker, "The Lanape and their Significance," 106-107.
(52) Moss, Slavery on Long Island, 10.
(53) Kruger, I, op, cit., 101-102.
(54) Hodges and Brown, "Pretends to be Free," xix.
(55) Cf. Kruger, I, op. cit., 69-70; Thelma Foote, "Black Life in Colonial Manhattan, 1664-1786" (Ph. D. diss., Harvard University, 1991): 180.
(56) Foote, op. cit.,181.
(57) Edmond O'Callaghan, The Colonial Laws of New York from the Year 1664 to the Revolution (Albany: James B. Lydon, 1894), I: 597-98; Edwin Vernon Morgan, "Slavery in New York: The Status of the Slave Under the English Colonial Government," Harvard Historical Review 5 (Januiary 1925): 344.
(58) O'Callaghan, Colonial laws, I, 767; II, a683; Morgan, op. cit., 344.
(59) Cited in Williams-Myers, Long Hammering, "The Ties that Bind," 43.
(60) O'Callaghan, Colonial Laws, I., 767; II, 683; Aaron Hamlet Payne, "The Negro in New York Prior to 1860,'' Howard Review 1 (June 1923), 23.
(61) Marion Thompson Wright, "New Jersey Laws and the Negro," Journal of Negro History, XXVIII (1943), 166.
(62) Cf. Hodges, Slavery and Freedom, 17.
(63) Ibid., 21.
(64) Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, Sketches of Eighteenth Century America, H. L. Borndin, R.H. Gabriel, and S.T. Williams, eds. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1925), 46, 83.
(65) Kruger, I., op. cit., 166.
(66) William Stone, translator, Letters of Brunswick and Hessian Officers During the American Revolution (Albany: n.p., 1891), 142. Quoted in Kruger, I., op. cit., 166.
(67) Kruger, I.,,, op. cit., 166.
(68) Cited in Williams-Myers, Long Hammering, 55.
(69) Kruger, I., op. cit., 200.
(70) Ibid., 177.
(71) Hodges, Slavery and Freedom, 16.
(72) Kruger I, op. cit., 218-219.
(73) Ibid., 154.
(74) Pouhkeepsie Journal (August 4, 1789), 3/4.
(75) "Baotisms 1756-1768," Records of Saint Peters Episcopal Church, Albany, New York, I, 30.
(76) Ibid., 63.
(77) Journal of John Baxter of Flatlands, Long Island, 1790-1826, Vol. I, June 30, 1800 entry, Long Island Historical Society, Quoted in Kruger, I., 208; Moss, Slavery on Long Island, 207, Appendix D.
(78) Poughkeepsie Journal (August 14, 1789), 3/2. An advertisement in the same paper of March 11, 1800, 3/4, announced the sale of a "negro man and woman with male child, 1 year old, separate or together.''
(79) Moss, Slavery on Long Island, 74.
(80) Foote, op. cit., 197.
(81) Anne MacVicar Grant, Memoirs of an American Lady: With Sketches of Manners and Scenery in America, As They Existed Previous to the Revolution (London, 1808), Vol. 1, 53. Cited in A. J. Williams-Myers, On The Morning Tide African Americans, History and Methodology in the Historical Ebb and Flow of Hudson River Society (Africa World Press, 2003), 48.
(82) "Extracts from John Baxter's Journal of Daily Work and Related Events Pertaining to Enslaved and Independent African Islanders, January 1790-February 1830." Quoted in Moss, Slavery on Long Island, Appendix D, 210.
(83) Poughkeepsie Journal (January 8, 1812), 1/3.
(84) Poughkeepsie Journal (September 23, 1795).
(85) Wacker, op. cit., 203.
(86) Cohen, op. cit., 33.
(87) Moss, Slavery on Long Island, 102, 176; Day, Making a Way to Freedom, 24, 36.
(88) Moss, Slavery on Long Island, 177. cf. Arnold Van Lear, ed., New York Historical Manuscripts (Baltimore, Maryland, 1974), II, 320-333; IV, 212-213; Day, op.cit., 36.
(89) New York Manuscript: Dutch Kingston Papers, Translated by Dingman Versteeg, edited by P.R. Christoph, K. Scott, and K. Stryker-Rodda (Baltimore, Md: Genealogical Publishing, 1976), Vol. II, 691.
(90) Wacker, Land and People, 203.
(91) Moss, Slavery on Long Island, 102. Cf. Thomas Greenleaf, Laws of the State of New York, Comprising the Constitution and the Acts of the Legislature, Since the Revolution from the First to the Fifteenth Session (New York, 1792) Vol. 2, 85-88, 142, 201-209, 612-619.
(92) Hodges and Brown, "Pretends to be Free." xxviii.
(93) Cf. "Field Guide to Identifiable African American Historical Sites in the Hudson River Valley," in Williams-Myers, Long Hammering, 163-175.
(94) Letters of Brunswick and Hessian Officers, 142.
(95) "Family and Community Life in Freedom," in Day, op. cit., 51-64.
(96) See my destructive Impulses An Examination of an American Secret in Race Relations--White Violence (Lathan, Md.: University Press of America, 1995).
(97) "Rev. John Bartow to SPG Secretary, 30 November 1710," Letters Received, Vol. A5 (1709-1710), 532. Rhodes House, Oxford University, England.
(98) Quoted in Moss, Slavery on Long Island, 169.
(99) Hodges, Slavery and Freedom, 77-78.
(100) Ibid., 78.
(101) Day, op. cit., 90.
(102) Absolom Aimwell, A Pinkster Ode for the Year 1803 (Albany, N. Y.: np., 1803); see also, "Pinkster Ode, Albany 1803," by Geraldine R. Pleat and Agnes N. Underwood in New York Folklore Quarterly, n.d. Xeroxed copy on deposit Albany Institute of Art and History, Albany, N. Y. The following Pinkster quotes are form the "Ode".
(103) Kruger, I., op. cit., 89.
(104) Cf. John Blassingame. The Slave Community (New York: Oxford University Press, 1972), 17.
(105) Caesar was the Rensselaer Nicoll family's coachman, and handled the large sleigh pulled by horses over the frozen Hudson River when the family made its annual winter trip to and from New York City: Long Hammering, 26, 164.
(106) Dina (Dinah) is buried in the Gill Family plot, and the house still stands on Route 9 South, at the entrance to IBM Poughkeepsie, and was formerly known as the Treasure Chest Restaurant. See Long Hammering, 170.
(107) See "The American Revolution, the Struggle for Control of the Hudson River Valley and the Road to Victory: The African American Factor," Chapter Six in Long Hammering, 105, 165.
(108) Day, op. cit., 25-26, 129; Moss, Slavery on Long Island, 182.
(109) Cf. Dorothy Porter, "Introduction," Early Negro Writing 1760-1837 (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971), 3; Day, op. cit., 25.
(110) "An Address to the Negroes In the State of New York, by Jupiter Hammon" (New York: Printed by Carroll and Patterson, No. 32, Maiden-Lane, 1787). Quoted in Porter, op. cit., 315.
(111) Ibid., 315.
(112) bid, 319.
(113) Ibid., 319.
(114) Ibid., 315.
(115) "A narrative of the Life and Adventures of Venture, A Native of Africa But resident above Sixty years in the United States of America." Related by Himself (New London: Printed by C. Holt, at the Bee-Office, 1798). Quoted in Porter, op. cit, 553-554. Cf. Day, op. cit, 33, 39; Moss, Slavery on Long Island, 170, 184.
(116) "A Narrative of the Life and adventure of Venture," 555.
(117) Venture was born in 1729 at Dukandara in Guinea. At 40 years of age the year would have been 1769 that he made the purchase of his two sons.
(118) Ibid, 554
(119) Ibid., 555.
(120) Ibid, 554, 555. The first of the three was purchased out of slavery by Venture shortly after the purchase of freedom for his two sons in 1769. With a balance of 200 pounds of his savings, he "purchased a negro man, for no other reason than to oblige him, and gave for him sixty pounds. But in a short time after, he run away from me, and I thereby lost all that I gave for him, except twenty pounds which he paid me previous to his absconding." 554.
(121) The voice of Sojourner is heard in a number of recently published books, One in particularly being Nell Painter, Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol (W.W. Norton, 1996). An interesting look at James F. Brown and his markings can be found in "An African Voice Among the River Folk of the Hudson River Valley The Diary of an Exslave, 1827-1866," in my On The Morning Tide, 63-105. Henry Highland Garnet can be found, for one, in Long Hammering, 123, 125, 126, 136, 167, 174.
(122) Jacquetta M. Haley, "Slavery in the Land of Liberty: The Van Cortlandt Response," in The Van Cortlandt Family in the New Nation (Tarrytown, N.Y.: Sleepy Hollow Restoration, 1984), 39. "Restoration" is now Historic Hudson Valley.
(123) Ibid., 40.
(124) "Account Book of Cost for Things Made/Service Rendered, 1763-1765," in "General Correspondence", Livingston Family Papers, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, N.Y. (microfilm, Reel 7).
(125) Thomas J. Davis, A Rumor of Revolt: "The Great Negro Plot" in Colonial New York (New York: MacMillian, Co., 1985) 6.
(126) Hodges, Slavery and Freedom, 23.
(127) Cf. Julius Goebel, Jr. and T. Raymond Naughton, Law Enforcement in Colonial New York (New York: Columbia University Press, 1944), 627.
(128) Cited in Moss, Slavery on Long Island, 99.
(129) de Crevecoeur, Sketches of Eighteenth Century America, 110.
(130) Poughkeepsie Journal (July 10, 1811), 6/3.
(131) "Runaway Slave Advertisement," New York Mercury, 30 June 1777. Quoted in Keuger, I., op. cit, 237. Cf. Hodges and Brown, "Pretends to be Free, " 202. Kruger states that they fled to Long Island and by the time of the advertisement "had already been at large for two months."
(132) Poughkeepsie Journal (April 28, 1813), 3/4.
(133) "Manor of Livingston, Robert Livingston, Justice of the Peace, February 2, 1775." Livingston Family Papers, (Microfilm, Reel 3).
(134) The New-Jersey Gazette (Trenton), #81, June 23, 1779. Cited in Hodges and Brown, "Pretends to be Free," 222.
(135) Herbert Aptheker, American Negro Slave Revolts (1938 reprint, New York: International Publishers, 1987), 374. Cf. Michael Craton, Testing The Chains (Ithaca, N. Y.: Cornell University Press, 1982), 11.
(136) Rufus Rockwell Wilson, Burnaby's Travels Through North America (New York: A. Wessels Company, 1904), 114-115.
(137) Strickland, Journal of a Tour of the United States, 8-9.
A.J. Williams-Myers (1)