All throughout contemporary New York State, mostly along the Hudson river, Dutch and other European colonists settled. This Dutch colonial history in New York starts in the early 17th century with trading between Native Americans and Europeans. The building of Dutch forts created permanent strongholds, colonizing lands that were inhabited by Native Americans. From the start of European colonization, African American free and enslaved people were part of this history.
Traces of this history can be found in present-day landscapes: churches, graveyards, forts, houses of slave-owners, archaeological sites, and places where the fight for full emancipation and abolition of slavery were fought. More hidden aspects come to the surface through research, including locations of markets where captives were bought and sold as goods, landing sites of slave ships, escape routes and safe houses for the freedom-seekers, and cellars and attics in households where enslaved people labored and slept.
Slavery heritage in New York has direct connections to Madagascar (East Africa), Indonesia, South Africa (Cape), West Africa, Europe, and the Americas. Surprisingly, these traces can still be found on our doorsteps and around the corner from where we live, work, and travel. We find these histories and remnants of early empire important and relevant in light of today’s global society.