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American History Bowery Boys Bookshelf

Sweet Taste of Liberty: Celebrating the life of Henrietta Wood

One hundred and fifty years ago this month, Henrietta Wood sued the man who kidnapped her and sold her back into slavery. In his lifetime, that man — a prison warden and general scoundrel named Zebulon Ward — often bragged about losing the case, saying “he was the last American ever to pay for a […]

Categories
New Amsterdam Podcasts

Peter Stuyvesant and the Fall of New Amsterdam: Where did the Dutch roots of New York City go?

PODCAST There would be no New York City without Peter Stuyvesant, the stern, authoritarian director-general of New Amsterdam, the Dutch port town that predates the Big Apple.  The willpower of this complicated leader took an endangered ramshackle settlement and transformed it into a functioning city. But Mr. Stuyvesant was no angel. In part two in the […]

Categories
Podcasts Revolutionary History

New York City during the Revolutionary War: Besieged and occupied by the British (1776-1783)

PODCAST What was life like in New York City from the summer of 1776 to the fall of 1783 — the years of British occupation during the Revolutionary War? New York plays a very intriguing role in the story of American independence. The city and the surrounding area were successfully taken by the British by […]

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Podcasts Politics and Protest

New York City and the Underground Railroad: Escaping to freedom through a hostile city

PODCAST For thousands of people escaping the bonds of slavery in the South, the journey to freedom wound its way through New York City via the Underground Railroad. The Underground Railroad was a loose, clandestine network of homes, businesses and churches, operated by freed black people and white abolitionists who put it upon themselves — […]

Categories
Politics and Protest

Frederick Douglass and the life saver of Lispenard Street, a stop on the Underground Railroad

In the early and mid-nineteenth century, the Underground Railroad secretly escorted tens of thousands of Southern enslaved people to Northern destinations, where slavery was illegal. The African American publisher David Ruggles was born a freeman in Connecticut and moved to New York to energize the emerging abolitionist move- meant via the New York Vigilance Committee, […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf

Solomon Northup’s ominous journey to New York City, 1841

An engraving featured in Solomon Northup’s narrative Twelve Years A Slave, published in 1853. The New York farmer and musician Solomon Northup was sold into slavery in 1841, tricked by two supposed members of a circus troupe, promising Northrup work in their traveling show.  Instead, Northrup awoke in bondage, eventually smuggled to New Orleans where […]

Categories
Know Your Mayors

George Opdyke: The mayor during the Civil War Draft Riots and his unsavory connection to New York’s fashion industry

KNOW YOUR MAYORS A modest little series about some of the greatest, notorious, most important, even most useless, mayors of New York City. Other entrants in the Bowery Boys mayoral survey can be found here.Mayor George OpdykeIn office: 1862-1863 The wealthy merchant and politician George Opdyke died on June 12, 1880, attended to by his family from […]

‘The Abolitionists’, first of three parts tonight on PBS

PBS’s American Experience debuts its three-part series on American abolitionists of the 19th century.  With two very different films about slavery in movie theaters (Lincoln, Django Unchained), ‘The Abolitionists’ is certainly a well-timed series, featuring the stories of Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison and Harriet Beecher Stowe (no doubt brother Henry Ward Beecher will make an […]

‘The Abolitionists’, first of three parts tonight on PBS

PBS’s American Experience debuts its three-part series on American abolitionists of the 19th century.  With two very different films about slavery in movie theaters (Lincoln, Django Unchained), ‘The Abolitionists’ is certainly a well-timed series, featuring the stories of Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison and Harriet Beecher Stowe (no doubt brother Henry Ward Beecher will make an […]

An historic New Years Day editorial from 150 years ago, as the Emancipation Proclamation takes effect

In black churches throughout America 150 years ago, gatherers celebrated ‘Watch Night’ on December 21, 1862, counting down to the moment when Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation would take effect. The carte-de-visite above celebrates a watch night that took place in Boston. [LOC] The following text is taken from the New York Tribune on January 1, […]

An historic New Years Day editorial from 150 years ago, as the Emancipation Proclamation takes effect

In black churches throughout America 150 years ago, gatherers celebrated ‘Watch Night’ on December 21, 1862, counting down to the moment when Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation would take effect. The carte-de-visite above celebrates a watch night that took place in Boston. [LOC] The following text is taken from the New York Tribune on January 1, […]

Categories
Gangs of New York

Execution in Five Points: Piracy, slave trade and the Tombs

Sometimes you can look back at history and think that nothing ever changes. And sometimes you find something that makes New York seem extraordinary unrecognizable, a city besieged by near barbaric crises. The image above depicts a scene from February 21, 1862, in the courtyard of the famous Tombs prison in the Five Points neighborhood. […]

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Podcasts

African Burial Ground: History from underneath the city, and the secret tale of New Yorkers once forgotten

A small cemetery for African slaves and free black New Yorkers developed along the southern edge of Collect Pond. But when that filthy body of water was drained and filled, the burial ground disappeared underground with it. (Image courtesy Preserve America) PODCAST During the construction of a downtown federal administration building, an extraordinary find was […]