Following the 1808 ban on importation of slaves into the U.S., enacted by Congress, the kidnapping of free blacks for sale as slaves became a larger problem. The ban reduced the “supply” of slaves, and with “demand” unchanged, prices rose, along with the potential profit for kidnappers. In 1817, in a description of a kidnapping case, the City Hall Recorder noted that, after 1808: “the practice of kidnapping was commenced, and has been carried to an alarming height.” [Read more…] about The Law That Saved Solomon Northup, And Others
The staff of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Archives has digitized more than a century of The Polytechnic student newspaper. The Poly archive is available online through the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Digital Collections, and can be searched by date or keyword.
The archive offers a window into the way Rensselaer students saw themselves and their Institute through history. [Read more…] about RPI Student Paper Archive Goes Online
John W. Fowler’s law school, called the State and National Law School, was ahead of its time in the field of legal education in the 19th Century. He founded the school in Cherry Valley, New York, in 1847, and moved it to Ballston Spa a few years later, where it was housed in the former Sans Souci Hotel.
Contrary to the normal practice, at that time, of lawyers being trained by “reading law,” Fowler’s school offered courses in extemporaneous speaking and debating, and utilized mock trials to allow students to hone their courtroom skills. The school received much positive attention from the legal community, including South Carolina’s John C. Calhoun. [Read more…] about Saratoga County:
A Future Black Congressman Faces Discrimination
Historic Cherry Hill has been awarded funding from the Pine Tree Foundation of New York for the conservation, rehousing, and select digitization of the museum’s collection of Van Rensselaer family receipt books and related clippings.
In all, there are 13 receipt books and numerous clippings and recipe fragments (in both manuscript and printed form) dating from the mid-eighteenth century through the early 20th century. The receipt books belonged to members of the Cherry Hill household. [Read more…] about Historic Cherry Hill to Conserve Rare Receipt books
As many of us anticipate winter traveling in New York State this week, we might complain about the price of gas, too much traffic, or long hours on the road. None of our journeys could compare with the one Susan B. Anthony embarked on December 25, 1854.
Ignoring the holiday that most of her friends and family celebrated, Susan set out, not on a train or stagecoach. Just like Santa, she chose a sleigh, pulled not by reindeer but by horses. Just like Santa, she had vast goals in mind, which seemed as miraculous as those he pursued. Yet Susan’s trip would last far longer than twenty-four hours. She planned to visit each of New York’s 54 counties and take four months to do so. [Read more…] about Susan B. Anthony’s Sleigh Ride Through New York State
The film 12 Years a Slave tells the story of Solomon Northup, a free black man who was lured away from Saratoga Springs, New York in 1841, and sold into slavery. Though he played the fiddle (and the men who tricked him into leaving Saratoga told him they wanted him to fiddle for a circus), the film overstates Northup’s status as a musician. Primarily, he earned his money from other work.
In his 1853 autobiography however, Northup wrote that prior to moving to Saratoga he had performed: “Wherever the young people assembled to dance, I was almost invariably there.” He attained some renown in Washington County, since: “Throughout the surrounding villages my fiddle was notorious.” [Read more…] about Early Black Musicians in Upstate New York
The University of Rochester has posted an online archive of over 6,000 AIDS information/activism posters. “The posters provide a visual history of the first three decades of the HIV/AIDS crisis from 1981 to the present. Depending on their audience, creators of the posters used stereotypes, scare tactics, provocative language, imagery, and even humor to educate the public about the disease.” The project was launched in 2011 and includes posters from 124 countries in 68 languages and dialects. It’s available online at http://aep.lib.rochester.edu/. [Read more…] about New Online Collections Related to New York History
For the Dutch settlers of this region The Feast of St. Nicholas Day was a day of celebration with favorite food and treats. Children checked their shoes, left out the previous night, for presents from Sinterklaas. [Read more…] about Crailo To Celebrate St. Nicholas Day
At the juncture of well worn roads and trails, Schaghticoke became a hub of activity during September and October 1777. Schaghticoke is located east of the Hudson River in what was at the time Albany (now Rensselaer) County, opposite the hamlet of Stillwater. It was a stopping place for hundreds of militiamen who came and went to battle stations in the area.
Like other nearby communities, Schaghticoke was all but abandoned during late summer and fall of 1777. An 8,000 man British Army, invading the Hudson River Valley, was reason enough for most residents to flee to safer places. Many of these refugees went to Albany to escape the threats of war. This article describes the activities of New England militiamen in and around Schaghticoke during the Saratoga Campaign. [Read more…] about Schaghticoke: An American Revolution Militia Rendezvous
It was one of the first tools used by New York City police to break up the Occupy Wall Street in 2011. Within days of donning Guy Fawkes masks, demonstrators were charged by police for violating the anti-mask law, section 240.35(4) of the New York Penal Law. Its origins go back to a statute passed in 1845 to suppress armed uprisings by tenant farmers in the Hudson Valley who were using disguises to attack law enforcement officers. [Read more…] about New York’s Anti-Mask Law Has Roots In The Anti-Rent War