BLACK HISTORY MONTH
Gabriel Mills of Riverhead Records the Birth of a Slave Boy and Girl, 1814. (From the Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives. Image copyright © Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.)
The document reads:
A nigner Boy Silas was born September 5 1814.
A nigger girl Lil was born November 22 1814.
Slavery was officially abolished in New York State in 1827, less than 200 years ago. In 1698, some 1,100 slaves called “bondsman” resided on Long Island; 10 percent of the population of Southampton was enslaved at this time. In 1749, some 3,400 slaves resided on Long Island; and in 1775, on the eve of the American Revolution, there were 5,000 slaves.
Manumissions (the freeing of slaves) increased during and after the Revolution. In 1788, a manumission law was enacted that provided for freeing slaves but protected those who were elderly or ill from being freed without adequate provisions for their care. New York declared that all children born of slaves after July 4, 1799, were free, though the owners could retain the male child's service until age 28 and the female's until age 25. However, the slaveowner could also elect to abandon his claim to the child's service and pass the responsibility for supporting the child to the state.
A state law enacted in 1817 provided that by 1827 all slaves in New York would be considered free.