Northern Slavery: Part 1

Basic consistency and the morality of having an equal standard have motivated me to write this series of articles. Currently, all things Southern, Confederate, and sometimes even just Christian are being cleansed from the public square. The excuse regarding the South is most often the pretext of “slavery”. Social Marxists and the Left claim that the Confederacy was uniquely a slave owning society and as such, all our implements of heritage must be banned as “hate”. The blasphemy of the Dark Ages has become the thought crime of this modern age; the god worshiped has indeed changed, but same the persecution remains constant over time. Southerners are told we must ceaselessly endure this public harassment daily by media, Hollywood and leftist organizations- we are made to feel less than human and often question our children’s future under these pressures.

But what if after monuments all over the South have been removed, we discover there had also been slavery all over the North? What if twelve of the first eighteen presidents of the United States had been slave owners? What if, as blue armies marched all across the Confederacy burning houses, crops and fields they also simultaneously protected slavery in the Union? What if we cleanse all the wonderful historic monuments, antique statues and culture specific details that help make the South unique only to discover hundreds of years of slavery up North? The destructive consequences of cultural genocide are difficult to remedy once complete. So before every last monument in the South has been toppled by the Left’s endless hypocritical hatred and double standards, let’s go review some northern states regarding the topic at hand, slavery.


In 1700, ten percent of estate inventories included slaves; this number increased to twenty five percent (or 6,464 slaves in total) just before the Revolutionary War. Almost all of the oldest families of Norwich, Hartford and New Haven had at least a couple slaves, but so did many in the middle class. After the American Revolution from England, emancipation bills had failed in the Connecticut Legislature three times, in 1777, 1779 and again in 1780. In 1797, a bill for ‘gradual emancipation’ was passed which set the slow standard for emancipation in the North. Basically, the slaves would continue to be servants for life, while their children would eventually be set free sometime after adulthood. So, slaves were still shown in Connecticut as late as the 1840 Census, but that was the last year the count would include that option in the North. Finally in 1848, just thirteen years before the War for Southern Independence a new law was passed so the few slaves that were older were finally set free.


As the Revolutionary War began about a quarter of the population of Delaware was enslaved. After Nat Turner’s horrendous rebellion, which resulted in the terrible slaughter of nearly 65 white folks, mostly the brutal hacking and clubbing to death of women and small children, Delaware started to institute “black codes” even on freed negroes. This northern state soon became the least hospitable place in the entire United States for negro freedmen.

Bills for gradual abolition failed in 1845 and also again in 1847; an 1849 law sold free negroes into servitude if they were found “idle and poor”. During the War for Southern Independence, President Lincoln wrote with hopes the freed negroes in the North, including, but not limited to Delaware, could be exported overseas. At the time, he had agents scouting the Mosquito Coast area of Nicaragua and also South America as potential locations for deportation of the troublesome slave ‘commodity’ but they eventually settled for Liberia:

“I do not speak of emancipation at once, but of a decision at once to emancipate gradually. Room in South America for colonization can be obtained cheaply and in abundance, and when numbers shall be large enough to be company and encouragement for one another, the freed people will not be so reluctant to go.” -Abraham Lincoln (1)

In the northern Union state of Delaware, slavery existed in full force throughout the entire war. In fact, after the failed War for Southern Independence, Delaware still refused to ratify the 13th Amendment as an “illegal extension of federal powers” over the states. Only in December 1865, when the federal government forced and mandated the 13th Amendment into effect on a national scale, did slavery actually cease in Delaware. In fact, this northern state refused to even ratify the 13th amendment until into the 20th century!

Illinois and Indiana:

Though illegal according to their Constitutions, in these states I found literally hundreds of slaves on the US Census consistently for nearly half a century. The numbers are simply too large and far too consistent to be an accounting error. Slavery may have technically been illegal, but folks simply looked the other way.


As early as 1629, Massachusetts was the heart of the transatlantic slave trade. Merchant ships supplied slaves to Connecticut by 1680 and Rhode Island by 1696. Many of the wealthy Yankee families gained their fortunes in marketing this “negro commodity”. To illustrate, Cornelius Waldo, a relative of Ralph Waldo Emerson, was an importer of commodities such as “Choice Irish Duck, fine Florence wine, Irish butter and negroes”. Also, Peter Faneuil inherited one of the largest fortunes built almost exclusively on the slave trade. It was his philanthropy which gave Boston its famed Faneuil Hall. I wonder when this giant monument to northern slavery be demolished?

Image result for Faneuil Hall

Back in colonial times, it was the Puritans who regarded themselves as God’s “chosen people” and as a superior people they had no moral issue with slavery. Unlike the later southern system, which always took pride in its paternal care for older servants- the elderly slaves too old to work in Massachusetts and other parts of the North were, at best, often thrown out to be indigent and homeless on the street. It wasn’t until two local slave merchants took part in the brutal massacre of an entire African village on a Sunday in 1645 that the colonial government registered any kind of indignation at all. However, it wasn’t the killing of the villagers that brought the officials of Massachusetts to anger, but the two Puritans didn’t observe Sunday as a day of rest.

By 1752, ten percent of the population of Boston were slaves. According to Governor John Winthrop, endless ships came into their ports carrying commodities such as “salt, cotton, tobacco and negroes”. By 1676, Boston slave ships had even pioneered and opened up a completely new slave trade into Madagascar; they were selling countless negroes into the South, but also the brutal sugar cane plantations of the West Indies for huge profits. Notwithstanding, the state had a politically active white working class which sought slavery’s demise to remove them from economic competition. So, with the public behind them, a 1783 judicial decision based on the 1780 Constitution finally brought slavery to an end in Massachusetts.

In the next of the series, we’ll examine other Yankee states and their affinity for slavery.

-By Tex Wood

One comment