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New York City once had higher percentage of slave owners than Southern states in 1860

In a fascinating report published today by the Slave Dwelling Project, it was revealed that in 1703, 42% of the households in New York City, owned slaves. Many of those slaves were either Native Americans or Mustees (mixed Native-African heritage.) As late as 1790, the State of New York still had 21, 123 slaves.  For comparison, the State of Georgia had 29,264 slaves in 1790.

The full article may be read at:  Slaves in New York City

The article had a mistake. It states that New York ended slavery in 1727. The actual date is 1827. After 1799, the children of slaves were born in New York were free, but their parents remained slaves until 1827. Slavery was never popular outside New York’s largest cities, but for several generations after emancipation, African residents of New York typically had a serf status, with very little hope of economic advancement. They were frequently attacked or even murdered by Irish immigrants, with whom they competed for the most menial jobs.

The year 1703 was during the peak period of Native American slavery. At that time, 20% of the population of the Colony of South Carolina was Native American slaves. Forty percent were African slaves. Because slaves from tribes in the Southern colonies could easily find sanctuary after running away, they were typically exported to Caribbean sugar plantations or to Northern colonies. Yes, all the Northern colonies originally had slavery – mostly Native American slaves.

King George III issued a proclamation to the North American colonies, banning Indian slavery in 1751, at the same time he legalized African slavery in the Colony of Georgia. However, many colonial assemblies, from South Carolina northward, immediately passed amendments to their slave codes that defined an African slave as any slave having more than 1/64th African ancestry.

Slaves from Turkey, Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia were left in a never-never land, in which they were not specifically mentioned by the proclamation, one way or another. South Carolina had a separate slave code for these peoples.

Percentage of households that owned slaves in 1860

Southern states that would secede from the Union in 1861 – 30.8%
Alabama – 34%
Arkansas – 20%
Delaware – 3%
Florida – 34%
Georgia – 37%
Kentucky – 23%
Louisiana – 29%
Maryland – 12%
Mississippi – 49%
Missouri – 13%
New Mexico – 7%  (mostly Native American slaves)
North Carolina – 28%
South Carolina – 46%
Tennessee – 25%
Texas – 28%
Utah – (less than 1%)
Virginia – 26%

Source: United States Census in 1860

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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history. Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.



    Excellent article! I enjoyed reading it. While many Native people where shipped up north and elsewhere I’m the US. I believe a small percentage was shipped to the Caribbean. I have notes on this I would like to share.

    There were also servants and slaves documented from East India, Arab, Malagasy in South Carolina. A excellent source if these records would me found in:
    South Carolina- Indians Indian Traders and other Ethnic Connection Beginnig in 1670
    by Theresa Hicks.

    I also have come across several individuals who’s DNA trace back to A Ethiopian female line, East Indian, and a Malagasy woman. They where baffled. Two had maternal origins in SC. The other Arkansas. I found information on a ship that brought Malagasy slaves here and sold them off to various States. I will post it in the future. I believed the ship docked in NY.

    Great Article.

  2. Thank you for that very interesting information. The Malagasy were the indigenous people of Madagascar. Most American history books do not even mention large numbers of slaves being captured there and then being brought to the Middle Atlantic and New England colonies.


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