"Happy Fifth of July, New York!" by Louise Mirrer, James Oliver Horton and Richard Rabinowitz provided a historical perspective on slavery in the North and South and its present-day implications. This team of historians/writers worked on the much-heralded exhibition about slavery at the New-York Historical Society. And with all of the work of Historic Hudson Valley, The African Burial Ground Project, and St. Paul's Church, we are approaching some clarity "on the role our city and state played in the institution of slavery." (see Mirrer et al.)
Certainly, Daniel D. Tompkins should be the most honored and celebrated Scarsdalian in New York State History. In 1817 Thompkins made a recommendation to the Legislature for an abolition of domestic slavery in the state.
"This act, if passed, would take effect on July 4, 1827. In accordance with his proposition the Legislature passed an act on the 31st of March 1817, and at the prescribed time slavery was ripped off the statue books of the state of New York." (Shonnard)
NB "Emancipation Day in New York: July 4, 1827, Enslaved adult men and women were set free. The children of the same were bound to serve a 25- to 27-year indentured term to their former enslavers." Dr. Sherrill D.Wilson See UPDATE Vol. 2 No. 5 December 1997 Newsletter of the African Burial Ground & Five Points Archaeological Projects
It is interesting to note that Tompkins was Vice President of the United States from 1817-1825 and founder of the NY State Historical society. The Extract from an adder on the Life and Service of Governor Thompkins by the Honorable Hugh Hastings, historian of the State of New York reads as follows:
"Of all the able men who have occupied the chair of governor of New York State, none ever sustained the onerous and overwhelming responsibilities with more conscientiousness, or guarded the destinies of his state and his people with more fidelity. He was more than a great man, he was a great patriot, a great martyr. He gave his services, his fortune, his reputation, and his life, that his country should maintain its position amongst the nations of the earth, and for the transcendent results he achieved, he deserves the imperishable gratitude of this country. Amen."
I began researching the early African presence in Scarsdale, New York in 1999. It really was one of the best places to start. The African presence in Scarsdale is as old as the village itself. If we look to the past to better understand the present and inform the future, we will find the vestiges of an almost forgotten people in historical texts that proliferate the library shelves. We will also find the skeletal remains of our African ancestors in cemeteries and landscapes throughout Westchester Country. Thus, history unfolds.