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American Negro Slavery
The Northern Colonies
by Phillips, Ulrich Bonnell

Had any American colony been kept wholly out of touch with both Indians and negroes, the history of slavery therein would quite surely have been a blank. But this was the case nowhere. A certain number of Indians were enslaved in nearly every settlement as a means of disposing of captives taken in war; and negro slaves were imported into every prosperous colony as a mere incident of its prosperity. Among the Quakers the extent of slaveholding was kept small partly, or perhaps mainly, by scruples of conscience; in virtually all other cases the scale was determined by industrial conditions. Here the plantation system flourished and slaves were many; there the climate prevented profits from crude gang labor in farming, and slaves were few.

The nature and causes of the contrast will appear from comparing the careers of two Puritan colonies launched at the same time but separated by some thirty degrees of north latitude. The one was planted on the island of Old Providence lying off the coast of Nicaragua, the other was on the shores of Massachusetts bay. The founders of Old Providence were a score of Puritan dignitaries, including the Earl of Warwick, Lord Saye and Sele, and John Pym, incorporated into the Westminster Company in 1630 with a combined purpose of erecting a Puritanic haven and gaining profits for the investors. The soil of the island was known to be fertile, the nearby Spanish Main would yield booty to privateers, and a Puritan government would maintain orthodoxy. These enticements were laid before John Winthrop and his companions; and when they proved steadfast in the choice of New England, several hundred others of their general sort embraced the tropical Providence alternative. Equipped as it was with all the apparatus of a "New England Canaan," the founders anticipated a far greater career than seemed likely of achievement in Massachusetts. Prosperity came at once in the form of good crops and rich prizes taken at sea. Some of the latter contained cargoes of negro slaves, as was of course expected, who were distributed among the settlers to aid in raising tobacco; and when a certain Samuel Rishworth undertook to spread ideas of liberty among them he was officially admonished that religion had no concern with negro slavery and that his indiscretions must stop. Slaves were imported so rapidly that the outnumbered whites became apprehensive of rebellion. In the hope of promoting the importation of white labor, so greatly preferable from the public point of view, heavy impositions were laid upon the employment of negroes, but with no avail. The apprehension of evils was promptly justified. A number of the blacks escaped to the mountains where they dwelt as maroons; and in 1638 a concerted uprising proved so formidable that the suppression of it strained every resource of the government and the white inhabitants. Three years afterward the weakened settlement was captured by a Spanish fleet; and this was the end of the one Puritan colony in the tropics.[1]
[Footnote 1: A.P. Newton, The Colonizing Activities of the English Puritans (New Haven, 1914).]
Massachusetts was likewise inaugurated by a corporation of Puritans, which at the outset endorsed the institution of unfree labor, in a sense, by sending over from England 180 indentured servants to labor on the company's account. A food shortage soon made it clear that in the company's service they could not earn their keep; and in 1630 the survivors of them were set free.[2] Whether freedom brought them bread or whether they died of famine, the records fail to tell. At any rate the loss of the investment in their transportation, and the chagrin of the officials, materially hastened the conversion of the colony from a company enterprise into an industrial democracy. The use of unfree labor nevertheless continued on a private basis and on a relatively small scale. Until 1642 the tide of Puritan immigration continued, some of the newcomers of good estate bringing servants in their train. The authorities not only countenanced this but forbade the freeing of servants before the ends of their terms, and in at least one instance the court fined a citizen for such a manumission.[3] Meanwhile the war against the Pequots in 1637 yielded a number of captives, whereupon the squaws and girls were distributed in the towns of Massachusetts and Connecticut, and a parcel of the boys was shipped off to the tropics in the Salem ship Desire. On its return voyage this thoroughly Puritan vessel brought from Old Providence a cargo of tobacco, cotton, and negroes.[4] About this time the courts began to take notice of Indians as runaways; and in 1641 a "blackmore," Mincarry, procured the inscription of his name upon the public records by drawing upon himself an admonition from the magistrates.[5] This negro, it may safely be conjectured, was not a freeman. That there were at least several other blacks in the colony, one of whom proved unamenable to her master's improper command, is told in the account of a contemporary traveler.[6] In the same period, furthermore, the central court of the colony condemned certain white criminals to become slaves to masters whom the court appointed.[7] In the light of these things the pro-slavery inclination of the much-disputed paragraph in the Body of Liberties, adopted in 1641, admits of no doubt. The passage reads: "There shall never be any bond slaverie, villinage or captivitie amongst us unles it be lawfull captives taken in just warres, and such strangers as willingly selle themselves or are sold to us. And these shall have all the liberties and Christian usages which the law of God established in Israell concerning such persons doeth morally require. This exempts none from servitude who shall be judged thereto by authoritie."[8]
[Footnote 2: Thomas Dudley, Letter to the Countess of Lincoln, in Alex. Young, Chronicles of the First Planters of Massachusetts Boy (Boston, 1846), p. 312.]

[Footnote 3: Records of the Court of Assistants of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, 1630-1692 (Boston, 1904), pp. 135, 136.]

[Footnote 4: Letter of John Winthrop to William Bradford, Massachusetts Historical Society Collections, XXXIII, 360; Winthrop, Journal (Original Narratives edition, New York, 1908), I, 260.]

[Footnote 5: Records of the Court of Assistants, p. 118.]

[Footnote 6: John Josslyn, "Two Voyages to New England," in Massachusetts Historical Society Collections, XXIII, 231.]

[Footnote 7: Records of the Court of Assistants, pp. 78, 79, 86.]

[Footnote 8: Massachusetts Historical Society Collections, XXVIII, 231.]
On the whole it seems that the views expressed a few years later by Emanuel Downing in a letter to his brother-in-law John Winthrop were not seriously out of harmony with the prevailing sentiment. Downing was in hopes of a war with the Narragansetts for two reasons, first to stop their "worship of the devill," and "2lie, If upon a just warre the Lord should deliver them into our hands, we might easily have men, women and children enough to exchange for Moores,[9] which wil be more gaynful pilladge for us than wee conceive, for I doe not see how wee can thrive untill wee get into a stock of slaves sufficient to doe all our buisines, for our children's children will hardly see this great continent filled with people, soe that our servants will still desire freedome to plant for themselves, and not stay but for verie great wages.[10] And I suppose you know verie well how we shall mayntayne 20 Moores cheaper than one Englishe servant."
[Footnote 9: I. e. negroes.]

[Footnote 10: Massachusetts Historical Society Collections, XXXVI. 65.]
When the four colonies, Massachusetts, Plymouth, Connecticut and New Haven, created the New England Confederation in 1643 for joint and reciprocal action in matters of common concern, they provided not only for the intercolonial rendition of runaway servants, including slaves of course, but also for the division of the spoils of Indian wars, "whether it be in lands, goods or persons," among the participating colonies.[11] But perhaps the most striking action taken by the Confederation in these regards was a resolution adopted by its commissioners in 1646, in time of peace and professedly in the interests of peace, authorizing reprisals for depredations. This provided that if any citizen's property suffered injury at the hands of an Indian, the offender's village or any other which had harbored him might be raided and any inhabitants thereof seized in satisfaction "either to serve or to be shipped out and exchanged for negroes as the cause will justly beare."[12] Many of these captives were in fact exported as merchandise, whether as private property or on the public account of the several colonies.[13] The value of Indians for export was greater than for local employment by reason of their facility in escaping to their tribal kinsmen. Toward the end of the seventeenth century, however, there was some importation of "Spanish Indians" as slaves.[14]
[Footnote 11: New Haven Colonial Records, 1653-1665, pp. 562-566.]

[Footnote 12: Plymouth Records, IX, 71.]

[Footnote 13: G.H. Moore, Notes on the History of Slavery in Massachusetts (New York, 1866), pp. 30-48.]

[Footnote 14: Cotton Mather, "Diary," in Massachusetts Historical Society Collections, LXVII, 22, 203.]
An early realization that the price of negroes also was greater than the worth of their labor under ordinary circumstances in New England led the Yankee participants in the African trade to market their slave cargoes in the plantation colonies instead of bringing them home. Thus John Winthrop entered in his journal in 1645: "One of our ships which went to the Canaries with pipestaves in the beginning of November last returned now and brought wine and sugar and salt, and some tobacco, which she had at Barbadoes in exchange for Africoes which she carried from the Isle of Maio."[15] In their domestic industry the Massachusetts people found by experience that "many hands make light work, many hands make a full fraught, but many mouths eat up all";[16] and they were shrewd enough to apply the adage in keeping the scale of their industrial units within the frugal requirements of their lives.
[Footnote 15: Winthrop, Journal, II, 227.]

[Footnote 16: John Josslyn, "Two Voyages to New England," in Massachusetts Historical Society Collections, XXIII, 332.]
That the laws of Massachusetts were enforced with special severity against the blacks is indicated by two cases before the central court in 1681, both of them prosecutions for arson. Maria, a negress belonging to Joshua Lamb of Roxbury, having confessed the burning of two dwellings, was sentenced by the Governor "yt she should goe from the barr to the prison whence she came and thence to the place of execution and there be burnt.--ye Lord be mercifull to thy soule, sd ye Govr." The other was Jack, a negro belonging to Samuel Wolcott of Weathersfield, who upon conviction of having set fire to a residence by waving a fire brand about in search of victuals, was condemned to be hanged until dead and then burned to ashes in the fire with the negress Maria.[17]
[Footnote 17: Records of the Court of Assistants, 1630-1692 (Boston, 1901), p. 198.]
In this period it seems that Indian slaves had almost disappeared, and the number of negroes was not great enough to call for special police legislation. Governor Bradstreet, for example, estimated the "blacks or slaves" in the colony in 1680 at "about one hundred or one hundred and twenty."[18] But in 1708 Governor Dudley reckoned the number in Boston at four hundred, one-half of whom he said had been born there, and those in the rest of the colony at one hundred and fifty; and in the following decades their number steadily mounted, as a concomitant of the colony's increasing prosperity, until on the eve of the American Revolution they were reckoned at well above five thousand. Although they never exceeded two per cent. of the gross population, their presence prompted characteristic legislation dating from about the beginning of the eighteenth century. This on one hand taxed the importation of negros unless they were promptly exported again on the other hand it forbade trading with slaves, restrained manumission, established a curfew, provided for the whipping of any negro or mulatto who should strike a "Christian," and prohibited the intermarriage of the races. On the other hand it gave the slaves the privilege of legal marriage with persons of their own race, though it did not attempt to prevent the breaking up of such a union by the sale and removal of the husband or wife.[19] Regarding the status of children there was no law enacted, and custom ruled. The children born of Indian slave mothers appear generally to have been liberated, for as willingly would a man nurse a viper in his bosom as keep an aggrieved and able-bodied redskin in his household. But as to negro children, although they were valued so slightly that occasionally it is said they were given to any one who would take them, there can be no reasonable doubt that by force of custom they were the property of the owners of their mothers.[20]
[Footnote 18: Massachusetts Historical Society Collections, XXVIII, 337.]

[Footnote 19: Moore, Slavery in Massachusetts, pp. 52-55.]

[Footnote 20: Ibid., pp. 20-27.]
The New Englanders were "a plain people struggling for existence in a poor wilderness.... Their lives were to the last degree matter of fact, realistic, hard." [21] Shrewd in consequence of their poverty, self-righteous in consequence of their religion, they took their slave-trading and their slaveholding as part of their day's work and as part of God's goodness to His elect. In practical effect the policy of colonial Massachusetts toward the backward races merits neither praise nor censure; it was merely commonplace.
[Footnote 21: C.F. Adams, Massachusetts, its Historians and its History (Boston, 1893), p. 106.]
What has been said in general of Massachusetts will apply with almost equal fidelity to Connecticut.[22] The number of negroes in that colony was hardly appreciable before 1720. In that year Governor Leete when replying to queries from the English committee on trade and plantations took occasion to emphasize the poverty of his people, and said as to bond labor: "There are but fewe servants amongst us, and less slaves; not above 30, as we judge, in the colony. For English, Scotts and Irish, there are so few come in that we cannot give a certain acco[un]t. Some yeares come none; sometimes a famaly or two in a year. And for Blacks, there comes sometimes 3 or 4 in a year from Barbadoes; and they are sold usually at the rate of 22l a piece, sometimes more and sometimes less, according as men can agree with the master of vessels or merchants that bring them hither." Few negroes had been born in the colony, "and but two blacks christened, as we know of."[23] A decade later the development of a black code was begun by an enactment declaring that any negro, mulatto, or Indian servant wandering outside his proper town without a pass would be accounted a runaway and might be seized by any person and carried before a magistrate for return to his master. A free negro so apprehended without a pass must pay the court costs. An act of 1702 discouraged manumission by ordering that if any freed negroes should come to want, their former owners were to be held responsible for their maintenance. Then came legislation forbidding the sale of liquors to slaves without special orders from their masters, prohibiting the purchase of goods from slaves without such orders, and providing a penalty of not more than thirty lashes for any negro who should offer to strike a white person; and finally a curfew law, in 1723, ordering not above ten lashes for the negro, and a fine of ten shillings upon the master, for every slave without a pass apprehended for being out of doors after nine o'clock at night.[24] These acts, which remained in effect throughout the colonial period, constituted a code of slave police which differed only in degree and fullness from those enacted by the more southerly colonies in the same generation. A somewhat unusual note, however, was struck in an act of 1730 which while penalizing with stripes the speaking by a slave of such words as would be actionable if uttered by a free person provided that in his defence the slave might make the same pleas and offer the same evidence as a freeman. The number of negroes in the colony rose to some 6500 at the eve of the American Revolution. Most of them were held in very small parcels, but at least one citizen, Captain John Perkins of Norwich, listed fifteen slaves in his will.
[Footnote 22: The scanty materials available are summarized in B.C. Steiner, History of Slavery in Connecticut (Johns Hopkins University Studies, XI, nos. 9, 10, Baltimore, 1893), pp. 9-23, 84. See also W.C. Fowler, "The Historical Status of the Negro in Connecticut," in the Historical Magazine and Notes and Queries, III, 12-18, 81-85, 148-153, 260-266.]

[Footnote 23: Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, III, 298.]

[Footnote 24: Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, IV, 40, 376; V, 52, 53; VI, 390, 391.]
Rhode Island was distinguished from her neighbors by her diversity and liberalism in religion, by her great activity in the African slave trade, and by the possession of a tract of unusually fertile soil. This last, commonly known as the Narragansett district and comprised in the two so-called towns of North and South Kingstown, lay on the western shore of the bay, in the southern corner of the colony. Prosperity from tillage, and especially from dairying and horse-breeding, caused the rise in that neighborhood of landholdings and slaveholdings on a scale more commensurate with those in Virginia than with those elsewhere in New England. The Hazards, Champlins, Robinsons, and some others accumulated estates ranging from five to ten thousand acres in extent, each with a corps of bondsmen somewhat in proportion. In 1730, for example, South Kingstown had a population of 965 whites, 333 negroes and 233 Indians; and for a number of years afterward those who may safely be assumed to have been bondsmen, white, red and black, continued to be from a third to a half as many as the free inhabitants.[25] It may be noted that the prevalent husbandry was not such as generally attracted unfree labor in other districts, and that the climate was poorly suited to a negro population. The question then arises, Why was there so large a recourse to negro slave labor? The answer probably lies in the proximity of Newport, the main focus of African trading in American ships. James Browne wrote in 1737 from Providence, which was also busy in the trade, to his brother Obadiah who was then in Southern waters with an African cargo and who had reported poor markets: "If you cannot sell all your slaves to your mind, bring some of them home; I believe they will sell well." [26] This bringing of remainders home doubtless enabled the nearby townsmen and farmers to get slaves from time to time at bargain prices. The whole colony indeed came to have a relatively large proportion of blacks. In 1749 there were 33,773 whites and 3077 negroes; in 1756 there were 35,939 and 4697 respectively; and in 1774, 59,707 and 3668. Of this last number Newport contained 1246, South Kingstown 440, Providence 303, Portsmouth 122, and Bristol 114.[27]
[Footnote 25: Edward Channing, The Narragansett Planters (Johns Hopkins University Studies, IV, no. 3, Baltimore, 1886).]

[Footnote 26: Gertrude S. Kimball, Providence in Colonial Times (Boston, 1912), p. 247.]

[Footnote 27: W.D. Johnston, "Slavery in Rhode Island, 1755-1776," in Rhode Island Historical Society Publications, new series, II, 126, 127.]
The earliest piece of legislation in Rhode Island concerning negroes was of an anti-slavery character. This was an act adopted by the joint government of Providence and Warwick in 1652, when for the time being those towns were independent of the rest. It required, under a penalty of £40, that all negroes be freed after having rendered ten years of service.[28] This act may be attributed partly perhaps to the liberal influence of Roger Williams, and partly to the virtual absence of negroes in the towns near the head of the bay. It long stood unrepealed, but it was probably never enforced, for no sooner did negroes become numerous than a conservative reaction set in which deprived this peculiar law of any public sanction it may have had at the time of enactment. When in the early eighteenth century legislation was resumed in regard to negroes, it took the form of a slave code much like that of Connecticut but with an added act, borrowed perhaps from a Southern colony, providing that slaves charged with theft be tried by impromptu courts consisting of two or more justices of the peace or town officers, and that appeal might be taken to a court of regular session only at the master's request and upon his giving bond for its prosecution. Some of the towns, furthermore, added by-laws of their own for more thorough police. South Kingstown for instance adopted an order that if any slave were found in the house of a free negro, both guest and host were to be whipped.[29] The Rhode Island Quakers in annual meeting began as early as 1717 to question the propriety of importing slaves, and other persons from time to time echoed their sentiments; but it was not until just before the American Revolution that legislation began to interfere with the trade or the institution.
[Footnote 28: Rhode Island Colonial Records, I, 243.]

[Footnote 29: Channing, The Narragansett Planters, p. 11.]
The colonies of Plymouth and New Haven in the period of their separate existence, and the colonies of Maine and New Hampshire throughout their careers, are negligible in a general account of negro slavery because their climate and their industrial requirements, along with their poverty, prevented them from importing any appreciable number of negroes.

New Netherland had the distinction of being founded and governed by a great slave-trading corporation--the Dutch West India Company--which endeavored to extend the market for its human merchandise whithersoever its influence reached. This pro-slavery policy was not wholly selfish, for the directors appear to have believed that the surest way to promote a colony's welfare was to make slaves easy to buy. In the infancy of New Netherland, when it consisted merely of two trading posts, the company delivered its first batch of negroes at New Amsterdam. But to its chagrin, the settlers would buy very few; and even the company's grant of great patroonship estates failed to promote a plantation régime. Devoting their energies more to the Indian trade than to agriculture, the people had little use for farm hands, while in domestic service, if the opinion of the Reverend Jonas Michaelius be a true index, the negroes were found "thievish, lazy and useless trash." It might perhaps be surmised that the Dutch were too easy-going for success in slave management, were it not that those who settled in Guiana became reputed the severest of all plantation masters. The bulk of the slaves in New Netherland, left on the company's hands, were employed now in building fortifications, now in tillage. But the company, having no adequate means of supervising them in routine, changed the status of some of the older ones in 1644 from slavery to tribute-paying. That is to say, it gave eleven of them their freedom on condition that each pay the company every year some twenty-two bushels of grain and a hog of a certain value. At the same time it provided, curiously, that their children already born or yet to be born were to be the company's slaves. It was proposed at one time by some of the inhabitants, and again by Governor Stuyvesant, that negroes be armed with tomahawks and sent in punitive expeditions against the Indians, but nothing seems to have come of that.

The Dutch settlers were few, and the Dutch farmers fewer. But as years went on a slender stream of immigration entered the province from New England, settling mainly on Long Island and in Westchester; and these came to be among the company's best customers for slaves. The villagers of Gravesend, indeed, petitioned in 1651 that the slave supply might be increased. Soon afterward the company opened the trade to private ships, and then sent additional supplies on its own account to be sold at auction. It developed hopes, even, that New Amsterdam might be made a slave market for the neighboring English colonies. A parcel sold at public outcry in 1661 brought an average price of 440 florins,[30] which so encouraged the authorities that larger shipments were ordered. Of a parcel arriving in the spring of 1664 and described by Stuyvesant as on the average old and inferior, six men were reserved for the company's use in cutting timber, five women were set aside as unsalable, and the remaining twenty-nine, of both sexes, were sold at auction at prices ranging from 255 to 615 florins. But a great cargo of two or three hundred slaves which followed in the same year reached port only in time for the vessel to be captured by the English fleet which took possession of New Netherland and converted it into the province of New York.[31]
[Footnote 30: The florin has a value of forty cents.]

[Footnote 31: This account is mainly drawn from A.J. Northrup, "Slavery in New York," in the New York State Library Report for 1900, pp. 246-254, and from E.B. O'Callaghan ed., Voyages of the Slavers St. John and Arms of Amsterdam, with additional papers illustrative of the slave trade under the Dutch (Albany, 1867), pp. 99-213.]
The change of the flag was very slow in bringing any pronounced change in the colony's general régime. The Duke of York's government was autocratic and pro-slavery and the inhabitants, though for some decades they bought few slaves, were nothing averse to the institution. After the colony was converted into a royal province by the accession of James II to the English throne popular self-government was gradually introduced and a light import duty was laid upon slaves. But increasing prosperity caused the rise of slave importations to an average of about one hundred a year in the first quarter of the eighteenth century;[32] and in spite of the rapid increase of the whites during the rest of the colonial period the proportion of the negroes was steadily maintained at about one-seventh of the whole. They became fairly numerous in all districts except the extreme frontier, but in the counties fronting New York Harbor their ratio was somewhat above the average.[33] In 1755 a special census was taken of slaves older than fourteen years, and a large part of its detailed returns has been preserved. These reports from some two-score scattered localities enumerate 2456 slaves, about one-third of the total negro population of the specified age; and they yield unusually definite data as to the scale of slaveholdings. Lewis Morris of Morrisania had twenty-nine slaves above fourteen years old; Peter DeLancy of Westchester Borough had twelve; and the following had ten each: Thomas Dongan of Staten Island, Martinus Hoffman of Dutchess County, David Jones of Oyster Bay, Rutgert Van Brunt of New Utrecht, and Isaac Willett of Westchester Borough. Seventy-two others had from five to nine each, and 1048 had still smaller holdings.[34] The average quota was two slaves of working age, and presumably the same number of slave children. That is to say, the typical slaveholding family had a single small family of slaves in its service. From available data it may be confidently surmised, furthermore, that at least one household in every ten among the eighty-three thousand white inhabitants of the colony held one or more slaves. These two features--the multiplicity of slaveholdings and the virtually uniform pettiness of their scale--constituted a régime never paralleled in equal volume elsewhere. The economic interest in slave property, nowhere great, was widely diffused. The petty masters, however, maintained so little system in the management of their slaves that the public problem of social control was relatively intense. It was a state of affairs conducing to severe legislation, and to hysterical action in emergencies.
[Footnote 32: Documentary History of New York (Albany, 1850), I, 482.]

[Footnote 33: Ibid., I, 467-474.]

[Footnote 34: Documentary History of New York, III, 505-521.]
The first important law, enacted in 1702, repeated an earlier prohibition against trading with slaves; authorized masters to chastise their slaves at discretion; forbade the meeting of more than three slaves at any time or place unless in their masters' service or by their consent; penalized with imprisonment and lashes the striking of a "Christian" by a slave; made the seductor or harborer of a runaway slave liable for heavy damages to the owner; and excluded slave testimony from the courts except as against other slaves charged with conspiracy. In order, however, that undue loss to masters might be averted, it provided that if by theft or other trespass a slave injured any person to the extent of not more than five pounds, the slave was not to be sentenced to death as in some cases a freeman might have been under the laws of England then current, but his master was to be liable for pecuniary satisfaction and the slave was merely to be whipped. Three years afterward a special act to check the fleeing to Canada provided a death penalty for any slave from the city and county of Albany found traveling more than forty miles north of that city, the master to be compensated from a special tax on slave property in the district. And in 1706 an act, passed mainly to quiet any fears as to the legal consequences of Christianization, declared that baptism had no liberating effect, and that every negro or mulatto child should inherit the status of its mother.

The murder of a white family by a quartet of slaves in conspiracy not only led to their execution, by burning in one case, but prompted an enactment in 1708 that slaves charged with the murder of whites might be tried summarily by three justices of the peace and be put to death in such manner as the enormity of their crimes might be deemed to merit, and that slaves executed under this act should be paid for by the public. Thus stood the law when a negro uprising in the city of New York in 1712 and a reputed conspiracy there in 1741 brought atrociously numerous and severe punishments, as will be related in another chapter.[35] On the former of these occasions the royally appointed governor intervened in several cases to prevent judicial murder. The assembly on the other hand set to work at once on a more elaborate negro law which restricted manumissions, prohibited free negroes from holding real estate, and increased the rigor of slave control. Though some of the more drastic provisions were afterward relaxed in response to the more sober sense of the community, the negro code continued for the rest of the colonial period to be substantially as elaborated between 1702 and 1712.[36] The disturbance of 1741 prompted little new legislation and left little permanent impress upon the community. When the panic passed the petty masters resumed their customary indolence of control and the police officers, justly incredulous of public danger, let the rigors of the law relapse into desuetude.
[Footnote 35: Below, pp. 470, 471.]

[Footnote 36: The laws are summarized and quoted in A.J. Northrup "Slavery in New York," in the New York State Library Report for 1900, pp. 254-272. See also E.V. Morgan, "Slavery in New York," in the American Historical Association Papers (New York, 1891), V, 335-350.]
As to New Jersey, the eastern half, settled largely from New England, was like in conditions and close in touch with New York, while the western half, peopled considerably by Quakers, had a much smaller proportion of negroes and was in sentiment akin to Pennsylvania. As was generally the case in such contrast of circumstances, that portion of the province which faced the greater problem of control determined the legislation for the whole. New Jersey, indeed, borrowed the New York slave code in all essentials. The administration of the law, furthermore, was about as it was in New York, in the eastern counties at least. An alleged conspiracy near Somerville in 1734 while it cost the reputed ringleader his life, cost his supposed colleagues their ears only. On the other hand sentences to burning at the stake were more frequent as punishment for ordinary crimes; and on such occasions the citizens of the neighborhood turned honest shillings by providing faggots for the fire. For the western counties the published annals concerning slavery are brief wellnigh to blankness.[37]
[Footnote 37: H.S. Cooley, A Study of Slavery in New Jersey (Johns Hopkins University Studios, XIV, nos. 9, 10, Baltimore, 1896).]
Pennsylvania's place in the colonial slaveholding sisterhood was a little unusual in that negroes formed a smaller proportion of the population than her location between New York and Maryland might well have warranted. This was due not to her laws nor to the type of her industry but to the disrelish of slaveholding felt by many of her Quaker and German inhabitants and to the greater abundance of white immigrant labor whether wage-earning or indentured. Negroes were present in the region before Penn's colony was founded. The new government recognized slavery as already instituted. Penn himself acquired a few slaves; and in the first quarter of the eighteenth century the assembly legislated much as New York was doing, though somewhat more mildly, for the fuller control of the negroes both slave and free. The number of blacks and mulattoes reached at the middle of the century about eleven thousand, the great majority of them slaves. They were most numerous, of course, in the older counties which lay in the southeastern corner of the province, and particularly in the city of Philadelphia. Occasional owners had as many as twenty or thirty slaves, employed either on country estates or in iron-works, but the typical holding was on a petty scale. There were no slave insurrections in the colony, no plots of any moment, and no panics of dread. The police was apparently a little more thorough than in New York, partly because of legislation, which the white mechanics procured, lessening negro competition by forbidding masters to hire out their slaves. From travelers' accounts it would appear that the relation of master and slave in Pennsylvania was in general more kindly than anywhere else on the continent; but from the abundance of newspaper advertisements for runaways it would seem to have been of about average character. The truth probably lies as usual in the middle ground, that Pennsylvania masters were somewhat unusually considerate. The assembly attempted at various times to check slave importations by levying prohibitive duties, which were invariably disallowed by the English crown. On the other hand, in spite of the endeavors of Sandiford, Lay, Woolman and Benezet, all of them Pennsylvanians, it took no steps toward relaxing racial control until the end of the colonial period.[38]
[Footnote 38: E.R. Turner, The Negro in Pennsylvania (Washington, 1911); R.R. Wright, Jr., The Negro in Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, 1912).]
In the Northern colonies at large the slaves imported were more generally drawn from the West Indies than directly from Africa. The reasons were several. Small parcels, better suited to the retail demand, might be brought more profitably from the sugar islands whither New England, New York and Pennsylvania ships were frequently plying than from Guinea whence special voyages must be made. Familiarity with the English language and the rudiments of civilization at the outset were more essential to petty masters than to the owners of plantation gangs who had means for breaking in fresh Africans by deputy. But most important of all, a sojourn in the West Indies would lessen the shock of acclimatization, severe enough under the best of circumstances. The number of negroes who died from it was probably not small, and of those who survived some were incapacitated and bedridden with each recurrence of winter.

Slavery did not, and perhaps could not, become an important industrial institution in any Northern community; and the problem of racial adjustments was never as acute as it was generally thought to be. In not more than two or three counties do the negroes appear to have numbered more than one fifth of the population; and by reason of being distributed in detail they were more nearly assimilated to the civilization of the dominant race than in southerly latitudes where they were held in gross. They nevertheless continued to be regarded as strangers within the gates, by some welcomed because they were slaves, by others not welcomed even though they were in bondage. By many they were somewhat unreasonably feared; by few were they even reasonably loved. The spirit not of love but of justice and the public advantage was destined to bring the end of their bondage.


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