Construction workers in 1991 were digging the foundation for a new office building just west of New York’s city hall when they discovered human bones. What they found were the skeletal remains of some 400 African slaves that had been buried in the city two centuries earlier.
Again we were reminded that slavery once existed in all of America, not just in the South. Most shocking was the evidence of an astonishing brutality by Northern slave masters.
The bones were in nearly pristine condition. Scientists from Howard University who studied the remains revealed their findings in 1998. Their conclusion? That those who died were young, malnourished, and literally worked to death. “You have so many individuals who have trauma or injury to the bone, broken neck bones because they were forced to do that kind of labor,” said one researcher. Enslaved as children, half of the slaves died in New York City before they entered their teens.
Author Clint Johnson (Politically Incorrect Guide to the South, pp. 124-5) describes a slave uprising in the Big Apple, the city he identifies as “the capital of the slave trade.”
“On at least two occasions slaves in New York City rebelled. In 1712 a slave revolt on Manhattan Island resulted in the deaths of six whites. In retaliation New York City residents sentenced at least eighteen blacks to death. Records show most were hanged, some were broken into pieces, and some were slow-roasted over an open fire for eight hours.
“Twenty-nine years later, in 1741, an even larger group of slaves was accused of trying to revolt. This time thirteen slaves were burned at the stake and seventeen were hanged.”