In 1799, New York State passed “An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery.” The law decreed that all children born to slave mothers after July 4 of that year
In 1799, New York State passed “An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery.” The law decreed that all children born to slave mothers after July 4 of that year would be “born free.” But the law further required that these children work as servants for their mothers’ masters until age 25, if female, and 28, if male.
How did this emancipation process unfold in practice? Close readings of local political and legal records from across the state reveal the clashing hopes and interests of children, parents, masters, politicians, and officials. Professor Gronningsater will discuss how the day-to-day negotiations of gradual emancipation shaped the experiences and politics of black servant children born under the rules of New York’s 1799 law. The children of this generation, she argues, grew up to be crucial actors in the long fight against slavery in the nineteenth-century United States.
A lecture by Sarah Gronningsater, Assistant Professor of History, California Institute of Technology. Co-sponsored by the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the Herbert H. Lehman Center for American History, and the Columbia and Slavery Project.
(Monday) 6:00 pm - 8:30 pm EST
Butler Library, Room 523
535 W. 114 St., New York, NY 10027