History of slavery in the State of...

unionblue

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#1
I invite the members of this forum to present, not just link to articles or web pages, the history of slavery of their home state or the state they now currently reside in.

I have no problem with a poster listing their sources, but I insist they take a personal approach by posting in their own words the history of their state where it concerns slavery.

No snide remarks, no distractions, just a factual and polite posting of "just the facts, ma'am," in the words of Dragnet star, Jack Webb.

Your participation would be appreciated.

Unionblue
 

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#4
Thanks for posting an interesting topic @unionblue. Mine is rather dull, given that I'm a Michigan native, but I figure it can't hurt starting with an easy state to help refine the process.

Michigan was established as a territory in January 1805, to be effective June 30, 1805. Slavery was prohibited in Michigan Territory by the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, but there was a wrinkle to this: French and British citizens who owned slaves prior to the establishment of the territory were allowed to keep them. Census records from the time show there were roughly 32 slaves throughout Michigan in 1830, seven years before Michigan became a state. I read one article that suggested these slaves may have been Native American rather than African or African-American.

The first state constitution for Michigan, written in 1835, prohibited slavery except as punishment for a crime under Article XI. This was reaffirmed in the 1850 constitution, Article 18, section 11. I couldn't find any mention of slavery being imposed as a court sentence. Michigan also apparently inherited codes from Ohio regarding treatment of freedmen, including laws that required African-Americans to show proof of freedom and signed statements that they wouldn't need public assistance. These laws went unenforced in Michigan; as far as I can tell from my reading, this was intentional as the citizens of Michigan went so far as to make statements about their intent and passing revised codes in 1838.

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I learned a lot about my home state, so thank you for the encouragement to do so!
 
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#5
I second what grace said.

I will attempt to do some elementary research on the history of slavery here in the greatest state in the whole world, Pennsylvania. :smile:

I can tell you, though, that my 4th great-grandfather, Samuel McNair, had an interesting run-in with slavery about 1834. Samuel was a Scotch-Irish Presbyterian farming a piece of land between the Marsh and Middle creeks in southern Adams County, about two miles north of Maryland.

Samuel one day discovered on his property a black man named Alexander. Alexander said he had run away from his master - Dr. James Aloysisus Shorb - and asked Samuel to query Dr. Shorb how he would treat Alexander if the slave returned home. Dr. Shorb, through Samuel, told Alexander that, if he "would come and be a good boy," he would not sell him - not even for one thousand dollars! Furthermore, Dr. Shorb said he would even permit Alexander to let a different master buy him, if one should come along whom Alexander liked and respected. Hearing this proposal, Alexander apparently at once agreed to return to his master.

Samuel McNair's name must have been disgraced by some in relation to this story, for he took out a section of the Gettysburg Republican Banner, where a witness and Dr. Shorb himself stated for the record that Mr. McNair had been very gentle in his treatment of Alexander, and that he had accepted no payment for his mediation.

I have not researched Dr. Shorb's life, but am guessing from the context of the articles that Alexander was something like a man-servant to Dr. Shorb. I consider this a fascinating and telling snapshot of the conditions of slavery in the very uppermost reaches of the South. The proximity of "free" land like Pennsylvania made slaveholders much more likely to be lenient - Dr. Shorb's proposed conditions were very favorable. One cannot imagine such a situation in the deepest areas of slavery.

P.S. Intro level Googling indicates that the Shorb family is very interesting. A bunch of them ended up in southern California. One of Dr. Shorb's sons, James DeBarth Shorb, moved to California and married a daughter of Benjamin Davis "Don Benito" Wilson. Don Benito was an early titan of southern California, and the maternal grandfather of George S. Patton. But I have to control myself or I'll be down a bunny trail of Frederick County local history all night! http://www.cityofalhambra.org/imagesfile/file/201311/shorb_bio1.pdf http://www.skagitriverjournal.com/WA/Whatcom/FairhavenSth/Harris/Dan02-Shorb1.html
 
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#7
Thanks for posting an interesting topic @unionblue. Mine is rather dull, given that I'm a Michigan native, but I figure it can't hurt starting with an easy state to help refine the process.

Michigan was established as a territory in January 1805, to be effective June 30, 1805. Slavery was prohibited in Michigan Territory by the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, but there was a wrinkle to this: French and British citizens who owned slaves prior to the establishment of the territory were allowed to keep them. Census records from the time show there were roughly 32 slaves throughout Michigan in 1830, seven years before Michigan became a state. I read one article that suggested these slaves may have been Native American rather than African or African-American.

The first state constitution for Michigan, written in 1835, prohibited slavery except as punishment for a crime under Article XI. This was reaffirmed in the 1850 constitution, Article 18, section 11. I couldn't find any mention of slavery being imposed as a court sentence. Michigan also apparently inherited codes from Ohio regarding treatment of freedmen, including laws that required African-Americans to show proof of freedom and signed statements that they wouldn't need public assistance. These laws went unenforced in Michigan; as far as I can tell from my reading, this was intentional as the citizens of Michigan went so far as to make statements about their intent and passing revised codes in 1838.

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I learned a lot about my home state, so thank you for the encouragement to do so!
Tiya Miles, a University of Michigan professor and historian, recently wrote a history of slavery in Michigan with emphasis on the Detroit area entitled, Dawn of Detroit - A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits. She apparently uncovered records of far more slaves than what appeared on the early census records:
"During the transition from British to American control, Detroit seemed a 'mind-boggling morass of murky rules.' The Northwest Ordinance, which stated that 'neither slavery nor involuntary servitude' shall exist in the territory, was adopted in 1787 but did not take effect until 1796 — with the American occupation. By that point, Detroit’s enslaved population had reached a peak of 298 people. Slaveholders insisted that the ordinance applied only to incoming residents. Furthermore, the Jay Treaty protected British property rights in Michigan and permitted the continued possession of slaves. Yet the Northwest Ordinance could embolden those in bondage. They escaped to Canada — though Miles shows that Canada was not always a bastion of liberty — and some even sued for their freedom."
Excerpt from the New York Times Book Review

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/21/books/review/dawn-of-detroit-tiya-miles.html
 
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#8
An overlooked chapter in the history of slavery is that it existed in Utah. Utah was unique as the slave codes allowed for the enslavement of both blacks and American Indians and there were different standards for each. For blacks you had to be approved to own them and they could be only be released by an ambiguous standard that basically said in due time they should be freed. Miscegenation with blacks was also prohibited and an owner being caught having relations with their black slaves meant losing them. The anti-miscegenation law continued in effect until 1963 when it was repealed. With Indians you merely had to have one with you claimed as a slave and miscegenation was okay. Utah was also unique in that it was required for the child slaves to attain a minimum number of years of schooling, the standard was higher for Indian slave children than black children. There were also stricter standards under Utah law about the treatment of slaves, relatively in favor of the slave compared to the Southern states and abusing them too much could cost you ownership. Slavery was abolished in Utah and the rest of the territories in 1862 and Utah was on the Union side in the war despite favoring slavery, in fact Fort Douglas established in 1862 is named for Stephen Douglas.

The LDS church endorsed slavery back then and had a pretty wacky interpretation of the "curse of Cain" believing the Mark of Cain to be dark skin and that all negroes are ultimately descended from him and that his lineage survived the Great Flood in the Bible which a female descendent named Egyptus married Canaan, the cursed son of Ham who Noah cursed as punishment for Ham's actions. Essentially the two curses intertwined to mean blacks are to be slaves and excluded from the priesthood until those of all other races and ethnicities are bestowed the priesthood. This policy ended in 1978.

http://mit.irr.org/brigham-young-slavery-because-of-curse-of-cain-5-january-1852

https://heritage.utah.gov/history/uhg-slavery-utah-2

http://www.blackpast.org/primarywest/utah-slave-code-1852
 
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Pat Young

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#9
Slavery was introduced into New Netherlands in 1626 by the Dutch West India Company. Slavery expanded under the British. In 1711 a slave market was established at the eastern end of Wall Street, connecting slavery to the city's capitalist development. During the mid-1700s slavery became particularly profitable in Brooklyn, with roughly the same proportion of enslaved people as in Virginia. A rash of fires in 1741 led to the execution of some slaves and Irish.

Abolition movements began in the second half of the 1700s focused in the Quaker villages and free black communities. So-called gradual emancipation began in 1799.
 

damYankee

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#10
Slavery was introduced into New Netherlands in 1626 by the Dutch West India Company. Slavery expanded under the British. In 1711 a slave market was established at the eastern end of Wall Street, connecting slavery to the city's capitalist development. During the mid-1700s slavery became particularly profitable in Brooklyn, with roughly the same proportion of enslaved people as in Virginia. A rash of fires in 1741 led to the execution of some slaves and Irish.

Abolition movements began in the second half of the 1700s focused in the Quaker villages and free black communities. So-called gradual emancipation began in 1799.
Slavery as practiced by the settlers in New Amsterdam were much different then slavery practiced in British colonies.
I posted a OP about it months ago, I’ll see if I can dig it up. But basically, there was a mix of indentured slaves from Europe, some from debtors prisons whose debts were paid in return for a term of indentured servitude, some volunteered for their terms of indentured servitude to have a chance to get to the New World, others still were inmates sentenced for mostly petty crimes.
Also there were many children whose parents couldn’t afford to keep. I have read passenger lists from the Dutch vessels. Amazing how many were unaccompanied children.
African slaves were as you said sold in New Amsterdam, but with a big difference, they had the ability to attend any church along with whites, they could establish schools and acquire property as well as their own freedom.
In fact in Fort Orange, which is now Albany New York, there are records of Africans owning property and operating schools.
I am the descendant of a man who came to the New World as an indentured servant to the Van Rensselaer patroons.
 

damYankee

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#12
There was also a condition referred to as “ Half Freedom”
On February 25, 1644, the Dutch West India Company granted conditional freedom, also know as half-freedom, to Paulo Angola, Groot Manuel, Cleijn Manuel, Manuel Gerrit de Reus, Sijmon Congo, Antonij Portugies, Gracia, Piter Santomee, Jan Francisco, Cleijn Antonij, Jan Fort Orange, and their wives. These men received half-freedom after they petitioned the Council to be freed from their bondage after having served the Company for 18 or 19 years. In their petitions, they claimed that the Company had promised them their freedom, indicating that they had always considered their enslavement temporary. They also suggested that they needed their freedom so that they could provide for their families.1

The Company granted these men their freedom under the following conditions: they would have to pay yearly dues to the Company, assist the Company whenever it needed them, and their children, including those who were not yet born, would remain enslaved. The Council proclaimed that if these former Company slaves acted in accordance with these conditions they would be “free and at liberty on the same footing as other free people here in New Netherland.” But, if they failed to pay their yearly dues of “30 skepels of maize, wheat, peas or beans, and one fat hog,” they would be re-enslaved. The company provided them with plots of land north of New Amsterdam so that they could take care of their families and pay these yearly dues.

Although these freed men continued to be obligated to the Dutch West India Company, several of the conditions did not differ that much from the obligations of the city’s free, white population. Landholders often had to contribute a tenth of their yearly harvest, and, like the half-free men, New Amsterdam’s free men were required to assist the Company when it needed them. In 1647, for example, the Council requested that all men help restore Fort New Amsterdam: “Every male person, from 16 to 60 years, shall each for himself work 12 days in the year at the said fort.” They could be relieved from these services only if they would pay a fee.

https://www.newnetherlandinstitute....tal-exhibitions/slavery-exhibit/half-freedom/
 
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archieclement

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#13
Slavery was introduced into what became Missouri sometime in early 1700''s with the early settlements by the French.

In 1762 we were transferred to Spain and slavery continued, probably during this period slavery hit the highest % of population as in 1772 38%was African descent, but the number would be low as the population was low.

In 1800 we were transferred back to France, and slavery continued

1803 with Louisiana purchase we become US territory, slavery continues

1818 Missouri becomes a US state, slavery continues, the total number of slaves peak during this period just a little under 115000 before the war as does the population in general. During statehood slavery ran around 10% of state overall, however in the Little Dixie counties it was 20-50% of counties

Slavery finally ends in Missouri in 1865, though Missouri does end it before the 13th amendment, by doing so in Jan

Have never seen any figures, but would assume a very limited number as in maybe a couple hundred in the Confederacy as body servant's to Missouri Confederate troops
 
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#14
During 1805 the legislature of Michigan Territory formed a 3 judge territorial Supreme Court appointing Augustus Woodward as its Chief Justice. Woodward was somewhat of an enigma, for his rulings and private writings were obloquys against the institution of slavery yet he owned a Pawnee Indian slave until 1824, and his ruling in Dennison v Tucker (1807), established that slaves owned by British and French subjects while the territory belonged to Britain, who remained in the territory after it was turned over to the United States, could continue to own most of those slaves -- at least for a few years more -- under the Jay Treaty ratified between the United States and Britain.

"Woodward decided two important slave cases. The first, Denison v Tucker,11 came before the court on a writ of habeas corpus and was heard on September 26, 1807. The petitioners were a family of slave siblings—Lisette, James, Scipio, and Peter Denison Jr. All with the exception of Peter Jr. were born before 1793. Their parents had been purchased in 1784 by an Englishman, William Tucker. The respondent, Catherine Tucker, William’s widow, was a British citizen residing in the territory.

"The Denison decision was complicated legally because of the petitioners’ dates of birth and their owner’s British citizenship. Woodward had to determine the legality of slavery in the territory in 1807 as affected by the 1763 Treaty of Paris, the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, the 1793 statute of the province of Upper Canada, the 1794 Jay Treaty, and the United States Constitution.

"Mrs. Tucker argued that her detention of the Denisons was lawful under the Jay Treaty, notwithstanding the antislavery provision of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. Woodward agreed. Apparently, his agreement was legal, not personal, as early in his lengthy opinion he expressed a strong aversion to slavery:

'The Slave trade is unquestionably the greatest of the enormities which have been perpetrated by the human race. The existence at this day of an absolute & unqualified Slavery of the human Species in the United States of America is universally and justly considered their greatest and deepest reproach.'

"After discussing the abolition of slavery in England, Woodward carefully traced the history of slavery in Michigan during the French, British, and American regimes. He noted that slavery under the French lasted until 1763 and was continued by the British until 1796 when the United States asserted its sovereignty over Michigan through the Jay Treaty. Accordingly, he concluded that the 1793 statute enacted by the province of Upper Canada, which gradually abolished slavery, was entitled to full recognition because the Jay Treaty protected the rights of British settlers. Such property, Woodward acknowledged, included 'human species.' Further, Woodward held the federal constitution required that provisions in a duly ratified treaty prevailed over any contrary local laws such as the Northwest Ordinance of 1787.

"The end result of Woodward’s legal analyses was a recognition of the three mandates in the 1793 British law: slaves who were living on May 31, 1793, and in possession of British settlers in the territory on July 11, 1796,remained slaves for life; those born after May 31, 1793,and before 'the establishment of american (sic) System of jurisprudence' remained slaves until age 25; and the children of slave mothers in the second category were free from birth pursuant to the Ordinance of 1787 unless they were fugitive slaves from another state.13 Since none of the Denisons had protected status under the 1793 Upper Canada law, Woodward ordered that they be returned to Catherine Tucker."
Excerpt from Slaves, Judge Woodward, and the Supreme Court of the Michigan Territory . pp. 23 -24

http://www.michbar.org/file/barjournal/article/documents/pdf4article2649.pdf
 

JPK Huson 1863

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#15
Pennsylvania was formerly a fairly progressive state, after bringing enslaved to this colony at inception. Supposedly slavery did not spread here because there was a lack of agriculture - find that hard to believe given how many generations held the same farms for a few hundred years. Penn's Germans, put in place along ridges of these mountains as a kind of buffer between ' his ' Quakers and Native American uprisings, do not seem to have resorted to enslaved labor.

A large, wealthy and fearless Quaker population opposed it, by 1688 a Quaker meeting near Philadelphia officially renounced it. By the middle of the 1700's Quakers were calling loudly for abolition- the Pennsylvania Abolition Society , first in the country, was formed in 1775. Growing out of that, a Gradual Emancipation Law was passed, March 1780. I forget some, all children born post- law were free.

Have to say, slave holders who disagreed got around the new laws by enforced signing of endless indentures. 1820, ' only ' 200 enslaved But. How many formerly enslaved were now indentured ( so, enslaved ) have no idea.

We have a good amount of Underground RR history, although for some reason there is not a lot of interest in protecting these old treasures. One house was bulldozed last decade, to build an eatery.
 

Bruce Vail

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#16
Slavery was introduced into New Netherlands in 1626 by the Dutch West India Company. Slavery expanded under the British. In 1711 a slave market was established at the eastern end of Wall Street, connecting slavery to the city's capitalist development. During the mid-1700s slavery became particularly profitable in Brooklyn, with roughly the same proportion of enslaved people as in Virginia. A rash of fires in 1741 led to the execution of some slaves and Irish.

Abolition movements began in the second half of the 1700s focused in the Quaker villages and free black communities. So-called gradual emancipation began in 1799.
My Vail family ancestors in New York's Westchester County were slaveowners and Quakers. The records are spotty, but one of the Vail's used his will to transmit ownership of seven slaves to relatives. In the 1790s, Quakers in Westchester were required by their local religious authorities to free their slaves, and to make financial provision for any freed slaves who were old or infirm.
 

Pat Young

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#18
My Vail family ancestors in New York's Westchester County were slaveowners and Quakers. The records are spotty, but one of the Vail's used his will to transmit ownership of seven slaves to relatives. In the 1790s, Quakers in Westchester were required by their local religious authorities to free their slaves, and to make financial provision for any freed slaves who were old or infirm.
Before the 1850s there were a number of slaveowning Quakers. Hicks really got the emancipation ball rolling. My village of Westbury was a Quaker village with a number of members of the Hicks family living here. The village abolished slavery here in 1776 and became a center for free blacks on Long Island.
 

Eric Calistri

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#19
There were a few African slaves in Texas when it was part of New Spain (1690-1821). A 1777 census showed 15 African slaves in San Antonio of a total population of about 2,000. After the Louisiana Purchase, Spain declared any slave crossing the Sabine River would be freed. For a time, Spanish Texas was a destination for runaway slaves.

In 1821 Mexico won independence from Spain. Soon after, Mexico began restrictions on slavery. At the same time, Austin's Colony was bringing in large numbers of immigrants from the USA. These were mostly from the Southern states, and they brought their slaves with them. This part of Texas was good for growing cotton and Stephen F. Austin said in 1824 “The principal product that will elevate us from poverty is cotton, and we cannot do this without the help of slaves.”

Even though Mexico outlawed slavery in Texas in 1830, enforcement was very lax. By 1836 Texas had about 5,000 enslaved persons in a total population of about 38,000.

Having won independence from Mexico, slavery was now legal in the Republic of Texas. The Constitution of the Republic of Texas defined the status of slaves and people of color:
  • People of color who had been servants for life under Mexican law would become property.
  • Congress should pass no law restricting emigrants from bring their slaves into Texas.
  • Congress shall not have the power to emancipate slaves.
  • Slaveowners may not free their slaves without Congressional approval unless the freed slaves leave Texas.
  • Free persons of African descent were required to petition the Congress for permission to continue living in the country.
  • Africans and the descendants of Africans and Indians were excluded from the class of 'persons' having rights.
In 1845 The State of Texas was admitted to the US. Sixteen years later the Secession Convention said of this event:

Texas abandoned her separate national existence and consented to become one of the Confederated States to promote her welfare, insure domestic tranquility [sic] and secure more substantially the blessings of peace and liberty to her people. She was received into the confederacy with her own constitution, under the guarantee of the federal constitution and the compact of annexation, that she should enjoy these blessings. She was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery--the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits--a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time.

The slave population in Texas increased rapidly through the Mexican, Republic of Texas, US and CS eras:

Year--Slave Population
1825 ------- 443
1836 ------ 5,000
1840 ----- 11,323
1850 ----- 58,161
1860 ---- 182,566
1865 ----- 250,000 *estimate

Texas Cotton production increased greatly in this time frame, and continued to increase as the frontier moved westward. Today Texas is the leading cotton producing state in the US by a wide margin.

During the Civil War many slave owners moved slaves to Texas, away from the Union Army presence in Louisiana and other places.

In June 1865 Gen Granger arrived with Union Troops, taking possession of the state and enforcing the Emancipation Proclamation. It was some months before emancipation was enforced across the State.

Juneteenth (portmanteau of "June" and "nineteenth") is celebrated as the traditional end of slavery in Texas June 19th 1865.
 
#20
  • Congress shall not have the power to emancipate slaves.
  • Slaveowners may not free their slaves without Congressional approval unless the freed slaves leave Texas.
That's bizarre. The RoT Congress was powerless to enact emancipation but they held all the power whether a slave could be freed or not by its owner.
 



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