19th Century New York



After 1827 and for most of the rest of the 19th century, life in New York City was difficult for African Americans in spite of being free. Open race hatred and discrimination were part of the social fabric.

In the 19th century, Europeans were generally taught that they were physically and mentally superior to people of African descent.

African Americans were denied equal legal and voting rights. They were excluded from most professions and many occupations, barred entry to leading museums, libraries, restaurants, hotels, etc., and had their access to public and private transportation restricted as well.

See story of African American New Yorker, Elizabeth Jennings, who fought to integrate public transportation in New York City.

In the face of this brutal oppression, some African American New Yorkers fled; others stayed put or repositioned themselves in nearby places, like Seneca Village and Weeksville.

The Black community exerted constant pressure on those who ruled New York, using moral suasion, civil disobedience, and creative use of the legal system.

African American New York also developed its own institutions--churches, corporations, libraries, stores, theaters, schools, etc.; forced certain companies to integrate their services or premises; and helped make New York City the center of the abolition movement.





Up Famous Black Americans Pilgrim's Point Stolen Childhood 19th Century New York

Links to Sites on the Abolition Movement

Abolition Movement
History of the Underground
Thomas Clarkson
John Brown