Slavery and Freedom in the Mid-Hudson Valley

By Michael E. Groth

Subjects: New York/regional, African American Studies, History
Series: SUNY series, An American Region: Studies in the Hudson Valley
Paperback : 9781438464565, 266 pages, July 2017
Hardcover : 9781438464572, 266 pages, May 2017

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Table of contents

List of Tables and Illustrations

1. Slaves and Slavery in the Mid-Hudson Valley

2. Resistance and Revolution

3. The Ordeal of Emancipation

4. An Arduous Struggle: From Slavery to Freedom

5. Race and the Construction of a Free Community

6. Abolitionism, Protest, and Black Identity

7. Black Dutchess County at Midcentury


Explores the long-neglected rural dimensions of northern slavery and emancipation in New York's Mid-Hudson Valley.


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.

Michael E. Groth is Professor of History at Wells College.


"Groth's careful survey of this history from the anonymous and largely invisible slave society of the eighteenth century to the emergence of black identity in Dutchess County in the antebellum period is remarkable in its details, and his analyses of these details places the black experience firmly within the American march toward freedom and democracy …The book is both relentless and compelling, and highly recommended. " — Hudson River Valley Review

"Highly recommended. " — CHOICE

"…this is an excellent book. " — San Francisco Book Review

"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