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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

  • Historical Eras > Colonization and Settlement (1621-1750) (x)

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Colonial New York's Governor Reports on the 1712 Slave Revolt

In 1712, Manhattan's population was about 6,000 living in an area twenty blocks long by 10 blocks wide; 10-15% of those inhabitants were enslaved Africans. Within this small area, slaves lived with their masters and worked along side white servants [...]

A Dutch Official Reports on the Purchase of Manhattan

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 [...]

A Salem Resident Cautions New York on the Dangers of Hysteria

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 [...]

Drawing of an African Burial Ground Grave In Situ

In 1991, workers constructing a new federal government building in lower Manhattan unearthed human remains. Maps from the colonial period showed a "Negro burial ground" on the site, then located outside of the city. An archaeologic study was [...]

Table of Black and White Populations in Colonial New York

With a diverse population of Dutch, English, Welsh, Irish, Scots, Germans, French Huguenots, Portuguese Jews, and Africans, New York ranked as one of the three largest cities in colonial America, along with Boston and Philadelphia. During the [...]

New Amsterdam Grants "Half Freedom" to Slaves

In the 1640s, a group of enslaved Africans petitioned the Dutch West India Company for their freedom. The company's director-general, William Kieft, agreed to grant them "half freedom" (their children were not free and they owed an annual payment to [...]

Making Sense of Evidence: The African Burial Ground

The reports on the archeology, history, and skeletal remains of the African Burial Grounds present a more complex picture of 18th-century colonial New York than has been presented in textbooks. The reports also leave many questions unanswered, [...]

An 18th Century Bill of Sale for a Slave and Her Child

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 [...]

Map of the Atlantic World

This blank map is provided for use in the activity "Many Passages: The Voyage of the Slave Ship Brooks," for students to illustrate the Middle Passage.

Item Type: Map
Map of New Amsterdam in 1660

This map of New Amsterdam, a 1916 pen-and-ink drawing copied from the 1660 original, shows the Dutch settlement on the southern tip of Manhattan (the map is oriented so that the southernmost part of the island appears to be facing west).

Item Type: Map