Slavery and Freedom in the Mid-Hudson Valley focuses on the largely forgotten history of slavery in New York and the African American freedom struggle in the central Hudson Valley prior to the Civil War. Slaves were central actors in the drama that unfolded in the region during the Revolution, and they waged a long and bitter battle for freedom during the decades that followed. Slavery in the countryside was more oppressive than slavery in urban environments, and the agonizingly slow pace of abolition, constraints of rural poverty, and persistent racial hostility in the rural communities also presented formidable challenges to free black life in the central Hudson Valley.
Michael E. Groth explores how Dutchess County’s black residents overcame such obstacles to establish independent community institutions, engage in political activism, and fashion a vibrant racial consciousness in antebellum New York. By drawing attention to the African American experience in the rural Mid-Hudson Valley, this book provides new perspectives on slavery and emancipation in New York, black community formation, and the nature of black identity in the Early Republic.
“Groth provides a systematic overview focused on the history of African Americans in the Mid-Hudson Valley during the decades before the American Revolution through emancipation and during the national political struggle for abolition and the regional struggle for civil rights.” — Andor Skotnes, author of A New Deal for All? Race and Class Struggle in Depression-Era Baltimore