The struggle for freedom and justice in New York for people of African descent has been a long one. Slavery in the colony-state began in 1626 and thrived for more than 200 years. Enslaved people, the slave trade, and the sale of slave-produced goods created tremendous wealth for white-owned shipping interests, businesses, and farms. New York was home to the largest population of enslaved people in the north; yet this history – both of northern slavery and the anti-slavery movement that opposed it – has long been ignored in the version of American History most of us received in school.
MHAHP is committed to collecting and sharing materials that support teaching and learning about the history of northern slavery and the anti-slavery movement.
People, Not Property: Stories of Slavery In the Colonial North. This rich and expansive online program examines the history of enslavement at Philipsburg Manor, a colonial plantation in Tarrytown, New York. It includes an extensive set of resources for the classroom, including Teacher Talks, website resources, a Time Map, and other in-class curriculums.
Using Music to Teach Abolitionist History. These lessons [developed by Professor Rebecca Edwards, Vassar College] show how the use of abolitionist songs can illustrate important themes and events from the pre-Civil War period. Singers and songwriters used songs to denounce slavery, inspire fellow reformers, and appeal for public support.
Note: The song versions used in these lessons are from 36 Antislavery Songs, by Rebecca Edwards. Copies of the book are available from the MHAHP. For information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Abolitionists and Free Produce. Following the lead of British abolitionists, antislavery Americans called for abandoning the use of any product made with slave labor – including sugar, cotton, indigo dye, molasses, and the like. Here is one example of “free produce” in action. Anti-slavery gingerbread is easy to make and is an opportunity to learn how abolitionists connected that cause to their everyday lives.
The Antislavery Alphabet is an important example of a book used by parents in their homes to teach children about slavery and the values of the anti-slavery movement. The simple approach used in this book – developed for the Philadelphia Antislavery Society Fair in 1846 – uses each letter of the alphabet to present a message or lesson. The goal was to educate and engage youth in the cause of abolition.