Black Efforts Toward the Gradual Emancipation Act of 1799 in New York
African American’s first legal sight of freedom came in 1799 with the Gradual Emancipation of slaves that were born on or after 1799. Many whites against slavery helped with their efforts in bring the Gradual Emancipation’s approval. The Quakers were the first to help the slaves fight for freedom. The New York Manumission Society contributed the most for the emancipation of slaves, but let’s not give all the credit to the whites. Black efforts undeniably helped in the process of gradually abolishing slavery as well.
Slaves first and foremost effort at freedom came from attempting to flee. Blacks have been running away from their masters since their introduction into slavery. Fleeing and escaping was a way of representing a statement of freedom far before any of the antislavery organizations were formed. Running away was an affective means for challenging the institution of slavery. Slaves were a major asset to farmers and the cost of them running away could severely hurt the owners financially. Summer was the most frequent time for slaves to flee because that is when labor was the hardest and most frequent. Runaway slaves learned about life through knowledge and experience in New York during their quests for freedom.
Later came a more frightening form of rebellion than running away. When people meet in groups ideas can be formed, beliefs can be shared, feelings can be expressed, problems can be brought to attention, and solutions can be agreed upon. Within Black meetings it was no different. Slaves’ social places could lead to good ideas for them and bad for whites. These meetings not only allowed blacks to socialize with one another, but to also assert leadership skills and form alliances.
White slave holders knew this and tried to limit their group size. Between 1681 and 1683 the Common Council in New York limited blacks to congregating in groups no larger than four. By 1700 it...
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