Slavery in Oneida County, New York

By DeAmicis, Jan | Afro-Americans in New York Life and History, July 2003 | Go to article overview

Slavery in Oneida County, New York


DeAmicis, Jan, Afro-Americans in New York Life and History


INTRODUCTION

Slavery could be Oneida County's best-kept secret. Many people who are particularly knowledgeable of local history, such as town historians and life-long residents, are completely unaware that the region witnessed the struggle of bondage. Few realize that at its peak there were at least 84 enslaved African Americans and 55 slaveholders in Oneida County. This article examines the history of slavery in Oneida County: how it began, flourished, and ended; who were the slaves and the slaveholders; what happened to the slaves after emancipation; and how slavery affected African Americans in Oneida County.

This study grows out of an effort to learn why Black Oneidans, especially those living in Utica, have remained particularly poor and socially isolated in the late 20th century. In 1990, 56% of Oneida County's African American households were headed by females; only 2 out of 5 children had 2 parents. Seven out of 10 black children were impoverished. Oneida County's African Americans faced greater rates of single-female families, poverty, and unemployment than the nation's black population in general. (2) My initial hypothesis was that past discrimination rooted in slavery created the conditions that left so many Black Oneidans living in impoverished single-mother families. I now conclude that my hypothesis is partly supported. While slavery and its racist ideology seriously sabotaged the efforts of New York's black people to achieve economic prosperity, slavery did not undermine Oneida County's black families or their drive to participate in the larger society. Published accounts provide very little information about local slavery, the documentary evidence is very thin, and the events themselves took place in so short a time period that they have been easily overlooked thereafter. Nonetheless, the hidden history of slavery and its consequences in Oneida County can finally be told.

It is easy to understand why so little is known about slavery in Oneida County. For instance, the many Oneida County and Utica histories that have been compiled for 150 years are the standard sources of local information, and they pay slavery only anecdotal attention. These accounts, taken from the earliest to the most recently written histories of Oneida County, are typical:

        Francis Dana .... owned a colored woman, who, through fear of
       being sold, jumped into the river with her child, and both were
       drowned.... Slave sales, which once had not been uncommon in
       Utica, were no longer announced in the papers, an issue of the
       year 1817 containing the last of such announcements that the
       writer has met with. (3)

        When (General William Floyd) removed from Long Island, he
       brought with him a considerable number of slaves of both sexes.
       He was a kind and good master and provided everything for their
       comfort. When the law for the abolition of slavery in this State
       went into effect, these slaves became free, and many of them and
       their descendants yet remain in the town. (4)

       One might assume that Oneida County's first black resident was a
       slave to some wealthy merchant. Although there were 50 slaves
       enumerated in the census of 1800 for Oneida County, there were 73
       "other [than white] free persons listed." (5)

Similarly, the literature concerning prominent Oneida County slaveholders virtually ignores their slaveholding, General William Floyd being the significant exception, as we shall see. (6) Most of Oneida County's 26 towns and 2 cities have their own written histories and all of them overlook the slaves of their forefathers. (7) An exhaustive review of the local literature leaves little understanding that slavery had once prevailed here.

Another reason for the lack of information is the small size of the enslaved and free black population. Oneida County's non-Indian population has always been overwhelmingly white and this was even truer when slaves first arrived. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Slavery in Oneida County, New York
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.