Stephen. Belinda. Mary. William. Dinah. Those are the known names among the nine people enslaved at what is now Staatsburgh State Historic Site in Dutchess County, NY. What do we know of their lives in the Hudson Valley and the legacy of slavery within New York today?
In 1792, New York’s third governor Morgan Lewis purchased the 334-acre estate and commissioned the construction of a colonial-style house on the site of the present day mansion. In the summer of 1824, on his visit to the United States, the Marquis de Lafayette dined there on his way upriver to visit Lewis’ brother-in-law, Robert R. Livingston.
In 1832, this first house was destroyed by a fire, said to be an act of arson committed by disgruntled tenant farmers. After the fire, Morgan Lewis and his wife, Gertrude Livingston, a sister of Chancellor Robert R. Livingston, replaced the structure with a Greek Revival mansion with 25 rooms. The house was inherited in 1844 by Morgan Lewis’s daughter Margaret and her husband Maturin Livingston; and in 1847 by the couple’s son Maturin Livingston Jr. (1816–1888).
Visitors to the mansion today can join Staatsburgh staff for a conversation on the transition from a Black presence at Staatsburgh during the early 19th century to the apparent absence of Black people at the estate during the Gilded Age.
This one-hour program will focus on recent research into the Black people living and working at the Staatsburgh estate and in the neighboring hamlet of Staatsburg, bringing in the larger context of racial oppression and Jim Crow, to present audiences with a new perspective on Staatsburgh.
This program is free, but reservations are required to be made here.
Photo of Hyde Park Post Office mural showing a coachman for the Livingston family who was probably enslaved.