A FAR CRY FROM FREEDOM: GRADUAL ABOLITION
NEW YORK STATE’S CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY
Historians have had difficulty associating New York State’s
brand of African enslavement, which they have concluded to be of a rather benevolent and mild nature, with the “barbarism”
that existed in the southern states of America. They have juxtaposed enslavement in New York State to an earlier period of
colonization far removed from the consciousness of freedom fighting colonialists or antebellum northern abolitionists. In
doing so, they have eulogized the alleged colorblind nature of Dutch colonial enslavers in an effort to purport a system of
enslavement in New Netherland that was akin to the European system of “Indentured Servitude”.
These scholars have
also depicted the abolition of enslavement in New York State as a natural occurrence - an inevitable process that was philosophically
and morally detached from hostile southern attempts to fight its establishment at all costs. They have surmised that African
enslavement died an uneventful death in New York State and that prior to emancipation - African descendants lived in a state
of “quasi-freedom” for a twenty-five year period prior to their actual legalized emancipation in 1827. All of these perceptions
distort historical fact.
This work is offered to clarify some of these misleading “facts” about the history of African
enslavement and abolition in New York State. In particular, it will focus on a little known period in New York history called
Gradual Abolition (1799-1827) in an effort to explore the role of the State in the institutionalization of human enslavement
and its politically corrupted attempts at abolition.
Provided herein is a short history of African enslavement in
New York under the Dutch as well as its later administration under British and American rule to help illustrate the general
conditions of African descendant life during enslavement. In the final analysis, this work will establish that the perception
of the comparative “benign” nature of African enslavement in New York was a false concept, and that New York State was in
every respect a “Slave State” of the caliber, dedication and economic magnitude exhibited in the antebellum south.
analysis will allow the reader to better understand the reasoning by which New York State was engaged in a thirty-year effort
designed to deprive African descendants of their freedom by circumventing any attempts at actual emancipation. New York State
was able to accomplish this objective by way of its active involvement and complicity in the institutional development, administration
and financial support of a system of “de jure” enslavement designed to ensure the bondage of newborn African descendant children
while at the same time subsidizing enslavers for their maintenance and any potential losses due to impending emancipation.
The development of “A Case for Reparations against New York State” is included as well, to provoke a new awareness
and understanding of the efforts now being undertaken to advocate for reparations for “crimes against humanity” perpetrated
worldwide against African people and specifically during the two centuries that New York State was engaged in the forced bondage
of African descendant men, women and children.
Copyright © 2005 L. Lloyd Stewart
All Rights Reserved