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"Land of the Blacks"
Some Black residents of New Netherland were enslaved, while others were “half-free.” The “half-free” Black residents could have some freedom if they followed certain rules. Several “half-free” residents were given land to own by the Dutch in New Amsterdam. They were given land to the northeast of the main settlement to serve as a barrier between New Amsterdam and the neighboring Native American communities.
The village was called the “Land of the Blacks.” It was one of the first free Black communities in the United States. Owners created farms, sold their crops, went to church, and became friends with their neighbors. The neighborhood did well.
On September 8, 1664, the British took over New Netherland from the Dutch. The British allowed the residents of the “Land of the Blacks” to keep their land, but in 1712, the British passed a law stating that Black land owners could not give their land to their children when they died. As a result of this law, the village eventually disappeared.
The New York State Archives has many documents written by the Dutch that show us that the “Land of the Blacks” existed. They also show us that some Black residents in New Netherland were given limited freedom. You can see some of the documents like the petitions for freedom on this page.
Click here for the link to the full article by Jasmine Bumpers and Jamie Brinkman
Did You Know?
- The first enslaved Africans arrived in New Netherland on August 29, 1627.
- In November of 1711, a Common Council law established a market for the auctioning of enslaved individuals on Wall Street.
- In 1730, the British Colonial Government in New York passed a law known as the “New York Slave Code” to prevent enslaved individuals from rebelling.
- The Act for Gradual Abolition legally ended enslavement in New York State in 1827.
- Until 1841, non-residents were allowed to bring enslaved individuals into New York State and keep them here for up to 9 months.
- Visit the Weeksville Heritage Center and learn about a free, 19th century African American Community.
- Find the marker for Seneca Village, one of Manhattan’s earliest African American Communities, in Central Park West, east of West 85th Street.
- Learn about the African Burial Ground National Monument, the location of the largest known burial ground for free and enslaved Africans.
- Find the marker for New York City’s Municipal Slave Market, used to auction enslaved individuals, near 100 Wall Street.
More Documents to Discover!