Slavery was a key institution in the development of New York, from its formative years as a Dutch and British colony to the early days of the United States. New Yorkers traded in slaves, distributed slaves, insured slave ships and owned slaves. At one time, 40 percent of New York City’s households owned slaves. At the time of the Revolution there were more slaves in New York than in any other city except Charleston, South Carolina.
The exhibition aims to show that while the slave trade provided great wealth for the city, New York was, from the start, also a center for efforts to abolish slavery. Slavery in New York also attempts to tell the story of how the black population began to plant its cultural roots, producing a rich legacy of poetry, art, music and literature in the face of adversity while at the same time, actively resisting injustice.
The show features paintings, newspapers, ledger books of slave voyages, ads for runaways, silver, furniture and other objects made by enslaved people, manuscripts of the first abolition society, and the earliest paintings of black New Yorkers.
New York Historical Society Web Site