New York's Grand Emancipation Jubilee

Essays on Slavery, Resistance, Abolition, Teaching, and Historical Memory

By Alan J. Singer

Subjects: New York/regional, Social Studies Education, History
Paperback : 9781438469706, 212 pages, May 2018
Hardcover : 9781438469713, 212 pages, May 2018

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Table of contents

Preface: “The Work of the Future,” Frederick Douglass

Introduction: Centralizing the History of Slavery, Racism, and Resistance: Why Race Still Matters

1. Most of the “Founders” Were Not Abolitionists, but Some from New York Were

2. Resistance! Resistance! Resistance!: New York State’s Radical Black Abolitionists and the Coming of the Civil War

3. Abolition on the Margins

4. Narratives of Slavery and Escape: The Importance of Solomon Northup

5. We May Never Know the Real Harriet Tubman

6. New York’s Grand Emancipation Jubilee Celebrations

7. Lincoln at Gettysburg: Were All Men Created Equal?

8. The New York Press, Racism, and the Presidential Election of 1864

9. Abolition: From Marginalization to Emancipation

10. “The Execration of History”: New York’s Opposition to Congressional Reconstruction

11. Politics of Historical Memory


Examines slavery, abolition, and race in the United States with a special focus on New York State.


In this book Alan J. Singer discusses the history of race and racism in the United States, emphasizing the continuing significance of slavery's past in shaping our present. Each chapter addresses a different theme in the history of slavery and the abolitionist struggle in the United States, with a focus on events and debates in New York State. Chapters examine the founders of the new nation and their views on slavery and equality; African American resistance; how abolitionists moved from the margins to the center of political debate; key players in the anti-slavery struggle such as David Ruggles, Solomon Northup, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, William Seward, and Abraham Lincoln; celebrations of freedom; as well as ongoing racism. Interspersed throughout the text are teaching notes that explore primary source documents and resources. The book draws on the latest scholarship to address and correct historical myths about both New York State before, during, and after the American Civil War, especially the pro-slavery, anti-civil rights stance of New York Copperhead Democrats in Congress, and the crucial role of Black and White abolitionists in ending slavery in the United States and challenging racial injustice. New York's Grand Emancipation Jubilee is not only an effort to include more African Americans as historical actors and celebrate their activism and achievements, but to provide an opportunity to analyze historical moments for change, explore their dynamic, and discover the conditions that make some of them successful.

Alan J. Singer is Professor of Education at Hofstra University and the author of New York and Slavery: Time to Teach the Truth, also published by SUNY Press.


"The book's greatest strength is that it situates the activism of New York's black abolitionists in the larger abolition movement. It is particularly nice to see prominent African Americans chronicled in a single book. Additionally, this work will make it easier for both secondary and college-level instructors to teach about the importance of African-American abolitionists in helping to put an end to slavery." — Jane Dabel, author of A Respectable Woman: The Public Roles of African American Women in 19th-Century New York