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Emancipating New York

The Politics of Slavery and Freedom, 1777-1827

Antislavery, Abolition, and the Atlantic World

312 pages / 6.00 x 9.00 inches / 3 Maps

ebook available

American History | Slavery Studies

  Hardcover / 9780807131749 / November 2006
  Paperback / 9780807133682 / August 2008

Winner of the CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title

An innovative blend of cultural and political history, Emancipating New York is the most complete study to date of the abolition of slavery in New York state. Focusing on public opinion, David N. Gellman shows New Yorkers engaged in vigorous debates and determined activism during the final decades of the eighteenth century as they grappled with the possibility of freeing the state's black population. The gradual emancipation that began in New York in 1799 helped move an entire region of the country toward a historically rare slaveless democracy, creating a wedge in the United States that would ultimately lead to the Civil War. Gellman's comprehensive examination of the reasons for and timing of New York's dismantling of slavery provides a fascinating narrative of a citizenry addressing longstanding injustices central to some of the greatest traumas of American history.

David N. Gellman is coeditor of Jim Crow New York: A Documentary History of Race and Citizenship, 1777-1877 and associate professor of history at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana.

Praise for Emancipating New York

“Gellman has added immensely to our view of what composed public discourse, who got to take part in it, and how it shaped moral and political agenda in the early republic.”—Journal of American History

“A provocative analysis of the development of support for gradual abolition in New York.”—The Historian

“Gellman tells a story that links those two individuals and the questions that they posed in a web that comprised the words and the actions of many others. His prose is both sophisticated and accessible. He may well have written one of those rare first monographs that can attract readers inside and outside the academic world. Both his book and its subject deserve no less.”—Journal of Interdisciplinary History

“A fine and important book.”—Journal of Southern History

“A smart, cogent study that effectively highlights the way that opponents of slavery triangulated emancipation through a series of early national political events by consistently returning current public debates to the relationship between citizenship and race.”—William and Mary Quarterly

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