“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Trenton in Mercer County, New Jersey — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Slavery – An “Odious and Disgraceful” Practice

Slavery – An “Odious and Disgraceful” Practice Marker image. Click for full size.
By Gary Nigh, November 2007
1. Slavery – An “Odious and Disgraceful” Practice Marker
Inscription. From the onset of European settlement in North America slavery was a recognized institution and integral to the colonial economy. Although Quakers discouraged the practice, settlers of other religious faiths living in the Delaware Valley maintained and relied heavily on the systems of bondage and indentured servitude to improve the land, raise crops and livestock, and generally support the colonyís social structure. A census of New Jersey in 1726, recorded roughly 2,500 persons as being non-white, the vast majority of these individuals being enslaved Africans and African-Americans, yet also comprising members of other groups, including Native Americans.

Slavery persisted throughout the 18th century with the number of slaves in New Jersey reaching almost 11,500 by 1790, although sentiment against this inhumane practice gradually began to build during and after the Revolution. Slaves were bought and sold, hired out and frequently forced to work and live under appalling conditions. Their liberties were greatly restricted and they were forbidden to meet in large groups. Slaveholding was more prevalent in the southern counties of New Jersey among Dutch-American settlers and landowners with interests in the West Indies where plantations with large slave populations were common.

In 1778, William Livingston, Governor of New
The four subject markers under the 18th Century Arch image. Click for full size.
By Gary Nigh, December 2007
2. The four subject markers under the 18th Century Arch
Jersey, freed all of his own slaves, condemning the practice of slavery as “odious and disgraceful.” Abolitionist views slowly received a wider hearing and in 1792 an Abolition Society was formed in New Jersey. In 1804 the State passed an “Act for Gradual Abolition of Slavery” which guaranteed freedom to slaves born after this year at a certain age (females at age 21 and males at age 25). Eight years later, echoing the nationwide prohibition of slave trading enacted in 1808, New Jersey finally banned the export of slaves out-of-state. However it was not until 1865, at the conclusion of the Civil War and after passage of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, that New Jersey – the last of the northern states to do so – finally made the practice of slavery illegal.

Links to learn more – John Woolman House, Mount Holly; William Trent House, Trenton; Peter Mott House, Lawnside; New Jersey State Archives, Trenton
Erected 2004 by New Jersey Department of Transportation.
Location. 40° 11.899′ N, 74° 45.505′ W. Marker is in Trenton, New Jersey, in Mercer County. Marker can be reached from U.S. 29. Click for map. This marker is part of South River Walk Park which is built over Route 29. Marker is in this post office area: Trenton NJ 08611, United States of America.
Other nearby markers.
Fifty Dollars Reward! image. Click for full size.
By Gary Nigh
3. Fifty Dollars Reward!
At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Trentonís Early Houses of Worship (here, next to this marker); The Battles of Trenton, Turning Point of the Revolution (here, next to this marker); From Federal City to State Capital (here, next to this marker); 18th Century Trenton Timeline (a few steps from this marker); 17th Century Trenton Timeline (a few steps from this marker); 19th Century Trenton Timeline (a few steps from this marker); Who, What and Where were Sanhickans? (a few steps from this marker); Native Americans Exchange Furs for European Goods (a few steps from this marker). Click for a list of all markers in Trenton.
More about this marker. This is one of 4 subject markers under the 18th Century Arch.

On the right of the marker is a copied notice from the New Jersey Gazette of October 1778. It reads:
Fifty Dollars Reward

RAN-AWAY on the evening of the 7th inst. from Trenton ferry, a likely MULATTO slave, named Sarah, but since calls herself Rachael; She took her son with her, a Mulatto boy named Bob, about six years old, has a remarkable fair complexion, with flaxen hair; She is a lusty wench, about 34 years of age, big with child; had on a striped linsey petticoat, linen jacket, flat shoes, a large white cloth cloak, and a blanket, but may change her dress, as she had other cloths with her. She was lately apprehended in the first Maryland regiment, where she pretends to have a husband, with whom she has been the principal part of this campaign, and passed herself as a free woman. Whoever apprehends said woman and boy, and will secure them in any gaol, so that their master may get them again, shall receive the above reward, by applying to Mr. Blair McClenachan, of Philadelphia, Capt. Benjamin Brooks; of the third Maryland regiment, at camp, or to Mr. James Sterret, in Baltimore.
Categories. Abolition & Underground RRAfrican Americans
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Gary Nigh of Trenton, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 1,547 times since then and 61 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on , by Gary Nigh of Trenton, New Jersey. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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