Monday, February 18, 2013

NEW YORK’S "Negros Burial Ground" "In 1991 excavators for a new federal office building in Manhattan unearthed the remains of more than 400 Africans stacked in wooden boxes sixteen to twenty-eight feet below street level."

Slavery in the New York City area was introduced by the Dutch West India Company in New Netherland about 1626, this was the beginning of the institution of slavery in what would become New York City that would continue for two hundred years.

As the city population increased, so did the number of residents who held slaves. In 1703, 42 percent of New York's households had slaves, much more than Philadelphia and Boston combined. On the eve of the American Revolution, New York City had the largest number of enslaved Africans of any English colonial settlement except Charleston, South Carolina. Slaves had become essential to the development of New York.

Labelled on old maps as the "Negros Burial Ground," the 6.6-acre area was first recorded as being used around 1712 for the burials of enslaved and freed people of African descent. The first burials may date from the late 1690s. The burial ground would remain in use until 1794.

In total, the intact remains of more than 400 men, women and children of African descent were found at the site, where they had been buried individually in wooden boxes. There were no mass burials. Nearly half were children under 12, indicating the high mortality rate of the time. Historians and anthropologists estimate that over the decades, as many as 15,000-20,000 Africans were buried in Lower Manhattan. 

"The Hidden History of Slavery in New York". The Nation. Retrieved 2008-02-11.

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