Colonization and Settlement (1621-1750)
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This illustration was one of several published in the American edition of The Book of Trades, or Library of the Useful Arts, a British survey of crafts that were practiced in the colonies. Each illustration was accompanied by a description of the craft, the kinds of materials used to perform the craft as well as their typical cost. The book also…

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Item Type: Poster/Print
Date: 1807

In the following passage, historian Jill Lepore carefully considers an enslaved man's walk through 1740s Manhattan. The slave, who was known as Pedro, described a Sunday walk through Manhattan as part of a confession that he gave during the investigations into the alleged slave conspiracy of 1741. Lepore notes both the breadth of slave codes in New…

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Item Type: Book (excerpt)
Date: 2005

In this letter to superiors at the Hague, Pieter Schaghen describes conditions in New Amsterdam, including the purchase of Manhattan from local Indians for goods worth sixty guilders. Scholars have speculated that the Indians who took part in this transaction likely had a different view of it, and did not believe they had sold the island to the…

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Item Type: Diary/Letter
Date: 1626

Fires were not uncommon in New York in the early 18th century. The city's ever-present fear of destruction by fire was heightened by the suspicion that the fires of 1741 were ignited by rebellious slaves. Arson was used by enslaved New Yorkers in 1712. Reports of slave revolts in Antigua (1736) and Charleston, SC (Stono rebellion of 1739) were…

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Item Type: Diary/Letter
Date: 1741

By 1740, almost twenty percent of New York's population was African American and roughly half of white households owned at least one slave. While slaves were forced to live and work alongside whites, they sought out the company of other African Americans. In narrow, bustling streets of the colonial city, enslaved people, especially men, walked…

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Item Type: Book (excerpt)
Date: 2005

This is a transcription of a bill of sale for a slave woman and her child that took place on Long Island in 1716. In the transaction, a woman named Francis and her two-year-old daughter Hannah are sold by William Willis of Hempstead to David Seaman of Oyster Bay for the sum of sixty-three pounds. Slavery was common in New York City and Long Island…

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Item Type: Government Document
Date: 1716

Many English settlers arrived in the colonies as indentured servants. Because poor men and women could not afford the cost of travel to North America, they bound themselves for four to seven years’ labor in return for passage across the Atlantic. Masters legally owned the labor of indentured servants. Servants who ran away and were caught had…

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Item Type: Government Document
Date: 1718

Many English settlers arrived in the colonies as indentured servants. Because poor men and women could not afford the cost of travel to North America, they bound themselves for four to seven years’ labor in return for passage across the Atlantic. Masters legally owned the labor of indentured servants. Servants who ran away and were caught had…

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Item Type: Government Document
Date: 1718

In 1741, a series of fires broke out in Manhattan, the most serious of which was within the walls of the governor's home in Fort George. After a slave was seen fleeing the site of one of the fires, rumors of a "Negro conspiracy" soon swept the city into a state of near-hysteria. Mary Burton, a sixteen year-old white indentured servant arrested at…

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Item Type: Laws/Court Cases
Date: 1741

This worksheet helps students analyze an archaeologist's sketch of a burial site in the African Burial Ground.

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Item Type: Worksheet
Date: 2010