WHAT AND WHY WE REMEMBER

We are a story-telling species.” Peter Feinman reminds us, “We reach out to the future and hope people will remember our present that has become their past… We want our name to be remembered, for our lives to have counted, for us to have mattered and we honor those who came before us and we hope will be honored by those who come after us. A people without stories are a people who have vanished.” (See his blog: http://newyorkhistoryblog.org/2014/10/27/memories-of-the-way-we-were-and-are/

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November is New York State History Month, and a good time to think about what stories we should tell in our schools, on our holidays, and in our commemorations about the history of our state that we hope will be remembered.

Our tremendous local history is, of course, part of that state and national history with world history implications. If we don’t tell it, the importance of what we and our ancestors did and the lessons learned here will vanish from consciousness, memory and history books.

That danger of loss is ever present despite the demonstrated interest in telling stories in so many varied ways. The effort to let future generations know that individual people existed and struggled to build our cultures has existed since cave dwellers finger painted on prehistoric walls, since architectural monuments and buildings of great beauty and size were erected in ancient civilizations, and paintings, poems, songs, statues and stories were created over the ages to reflect the beliefs and rifts that we still struggle with today.

There are some loud voices in our nation calling to educate our students on only that part of our history that glorifies us. They would prefer to erase those pieces of our history that even suggest that our people, in the name of our country, made mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes were immensely cruel ones. Unfortunately, we often must face the cruel ones to learn that we can do better.

In our own state, we see that the NYS Regents voted unanimously on Monday October 20, 2014 to reduce the history requirement for a Regents diploma. Presently, Regents require exams in U.S. history and government and another in global history and geography. Students may now opt out of one of those exams to make room for a technical career track. Further, the Global History exam will be modified to test student knowledge only on events after 1750. Thus, the early development of civilizations, ancient empires, the rise of universal religions, and trans-Atlantic Slave Trade are no longer tested. As a result, they may no longer be taught in today’s highly congested schedules.

That is not to say that a career training track isn’t important for many, but it must be recognized that a swath of understanding of our past is thereby removed for a large group of our population who are expected to help govern our future. Lessons unlearned are bound to be repeated.

And consider these items:

– The state of Maryland devoted $12 Million to commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812. New York spent $0. The huge impact of the Battle of Plattsburgh on today’s shape of the United States was left to the relatively small community of Plattsburgh to tell.

– The replica of Henry Hudson’s ship the Half Moon that has provided educational opportunities for a quarter century may leave New York for lack of funding.

– New York missed celebrating its 350th anniversary as an English colony last month, an event that would have provided an opportunity to commemorate New York’s historical development and achievements. Nothing happened.

It appears that if we wish to preserve our history, it is up to the locals to carry it out.

Jerry Bates

Town of Plattsburgh Historian

 

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A Champlain Valley Icon Worth Saving

Citizens of the Champlain Valley were in an uproar when the Press-Republican revealed that the Old Stone Barracks was purchased by a Canadian developer in 2010. The planned apartment complex and parking lots would fill the open space but allow the Barracks to remain fallow. “How could that happen”, we asked, “to a property that was on the National Register of Historic Sites.”

Of the many older buildings in the Champlain Valley, the Barracks stand out as emblematic of the indomitable spirit of the North Country. The Old Stone Barracks stood guard as a northern outpost for nearly 175 years. It was ordered into military service by none other than Major General Alexander Macomb, hero of the Battle of Plattsburgh, who rose to Command the entire U.S. Army.

Over the years, the Barracks housed Army, Navy and Air Force personnel, a hospital, convalescent rehabilitation center, and Champlain College for returning veterans of WWII.

They were home to John Philips Sousa’s band. Other associations with the barracks include Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt, Ulysses S. Grant, Thomas (Stonewall) Jackson, and Gen. Leonard Wood. It was the site of training in WWI and II, associated with the largest field training exercise in peacetime history (1939) and arguably the conceptual birthplace of the ROTC.

The Old Stone Barracks is historically significant as the oldest extant structure on the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base, which was itself historically notable as the most long-standing combat-ready military installation in the United States while active.  It represents one of the last remaining examples of the first generation of permanent U.S. Army Barracks in the United States. Its history is our history.

Out of that 2010 protest, the Friends of the Old Stone Barracks was born. Its mission is to bring ownership of the Barracks home, consult with the community to find the property’s highest and best use, and create a way to preserve it for future generations.

The Friends knew that there would likely be one chance to save the barracks, and it better be done right! After long and hard negotiation, a deal was struck to secure the property with a down payment.

But there is no guarantee yet that the Barracks are saved. Many hurdles remain. The Friends must first buy the building. Ownership of the property is necessary to establish a “preservation in perpetuity” clause in any future title. Approximately $160,000 has yet to be raised by December. While a proposed brewery, shops, small apartments and public space have been suggested, further public comment for its use are being solicited at the Plattsburgh Town Hall, 151 Banker Rd., 7 PM, September 23.

Though the thick stone walls are sound, anyone developing the barracks property will have extensive hurdles to overcome with the gutted interior and weathered porches.

Open board meetings are held each Monday, 4 PM at the War of 1812 Museum.

To guarantee the Barracks’ future, now is the time for those who wish to preserve this historic piece of our collective lives to step up with their donation. Go to www.oldstonebarracks.org or contact any board member.

 

Jerry Bates, President

Friends of the Old Stone Barracks, Inc.

200th ANNIVERSARY AND COMMEMORATION OF THE BATTLE OF PLATTSBURGH

Well, here we are with the biggest birthday event to be seen in the North Country right on our doorstep through September 14.

Why all the hullabaloo here for something that happened so long ago?

For one thing, the Battle of Plattsburgh is nationally significant.  The war had been going badly for the U.S. from the beginning. President Theodore Roosevelt, an accomplished historian, recognized it as the most decisive battle of the war. The British defeat at Plattsburgh and Baltimore was altered the complexion of the war. It was the key to change the whole tone of peace talks which had been leaning toward a huge concession of U.S. Territory to the British. Had the U.S. continued its pre-Plattsburgh trajectory of losses by the British taking Plattsburgh and control Lake Champlain, our nation could well number as few as nineteen – yes 19 – states in the Union.

There are some basic things most residents of our region know. Most know that local people were killed in an outgunned defense of our then small town. Many locals know the basic story line of how 8,000 British Army came swooping down from Canada to lay siege to what was a relatively tiny village defended by 1,500 men, most of them physically unfit for duty. They were remnants of General Izzard’s Army after Washington sent his main force to defend Sackett’s Harbor near Watertown. Most know that a big naval battle took place in our Cumberland Bay where Cmdr. Thomas Macdonough’s fleet defeated a stronger British fleet that effectively ended the siege of Plattsburgh. And most important, our region recognizes the enduring peace and friendship that eventually came out of all that strife.

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But it’s the details of all that that remain fascinating. A good way to refresh oneself of those details can be had attending the various reenactments, demonstrations, and venues of the Commemoration from the Town of Champlain on the Canadian border down to Plattsburgh. Battle maps depicting the route of the invasion are available from local museums and the Chamber of Commerce and Town Halls. The maps provide a graphic picture of the daily progress of British troops engaged in the siege of Plattsburgh. A full schedule of activities can be found daily in the local paper and on the website http://www.Champlain1812.com.

On this 200th anniversary, the commemoration is special in its scope of activities and opportunity to learn and share. This is a part of our local heritage for which we can be justly proud and share with our out-of-state friends and family.

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THE PLATTSBURG BUSINESSMEN’S TRAINING CAMP

by G. William Glidden, MAJOR ( R ) USA, Registered Historian, Assoc. of Public Historians NYS Former Deputy Town of Plattsburgh Historian

The training camps, designed to be seminaries for propagandists who preached preparedness to the civilian population, developed the cause of patriotic service to the extent that military training became highly acceptable. One result, the draft riots of the Civil War became unheard of during World War I. Another was the blue print for the formation of the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC).

Note the spelling of Plattsburg which was temporarily used during the period.

In Colliers Magazine, Richard Harding Davis published an article, “The Plattsburg Idea” to encourage the spread of voluntary training camps. He defended the aims in preparedness against such opponents as Henry Ford, whom he quoted “any man who chooses to be a soldier is either lazy or crazy and should be placed in an asylum.” Davis further remarked, “should war come, Ford may be among the first to run shrieking to those lazy and crazy officers to protect his life and millions.”

Direction for the training camp movement came from a young New York lawyer, Grenville Clark. Clark’s ideal of the citizens’ obligations for public service became the essence of the Plattsburg Idea. With a few associates, he agreed to recruit a hundred volunteers from business and professional men. Their military training would be at their own expense, if the War Department cooperated by furnishing proper instruction. On 22 June 1915 General Order No. 38 authorized young businessmen and professionals to pay their own way to the training camps. They planned the strategy and organized the civilian groups. In August 1915 strenuous efforts and a public rally in New York City produced a first training class of twelve hundred at the Plattsburg Barracks. A year had passed since the German entry into Brussels.

Both influential younger leaders of the community and immature undergraduates from colleges came to the camp. The muster rolls at Plattsburg sounded like ‘Who’s Who’ and `The Social Register’ combined. The Roosevelts came with the Chanlers, Fishes and Milburns. Among the first noted to train with them: Robert Bacon, former Secretary of State and Ambassador to France; John Purray Mitchell, young reform Mayor of New York City; Arthur Woods, New York City Police Commissioner; and Richard Harding Davis. The public read of millionaires doing ‘kitchen police’, digging trenches, and caught the message behind the incongruity. The sort of men who went to Plattsburg, the publicity that occurred, and the emphasis on officer training gave a distinct elitism to the movement. This would change in the camps of 1916, and especially the camps of 1917 and 1918.

Upon return from training in 1915, the Military Training Camps Association (MTCA) became organized. During the Fall of 1915 and the early months of 1916, the MTCA began to apply more pressure upon Congress, as Congress debated the National Defense Act. The organizers of the MTCA chose to work within the system instead of fighting it. In so doing, they salvaged what they could of the controversial bills. They managed to secure the result in the passage of Section 54 of the act.

On 11 April 1916, Richard Harding Davis died. Upon his death General Leonard Wood remarked, “The Plattsburg Movement took a very strong hold of Davis. Davis saw in this great instrument for building up a sound knowledge concerning our military history and policy, also a very practical way of training men for the duties of junior officers. He realized fully that we should need in case of war tens of thousands of officers with our newly raised troops, and that it would be utterly impossible to prepare them in the hurry and confusion of the onrush of modern war. His heart filled with a desire to serve his country to the best of his ability. His recent experience in Europe pointed out to him the absolute madness of prolonging and disregarding the need for doing those things which cannot be accomplished after the trouble is upon us.”

A year later in April of 1917, by a request to Congress, President Wilson declared war. The Plattsburg Movement became the basis of recruiting influence in military policy. By the signing of the armistice in 1918, approximately 100,000 officer candidates, nearly one half of the officer corps, graduated from the Plattsburg Movement. The birth of ‘the 90 day wonder’ had taken place.

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PART III: BLACKS, SLAVERY AND FREEDOM IN OLD PLATTSBURGH

by Jerry Bates

We have been relating the story of black slaves and slaveholders in early Plattsburgh as recorded in the Town Record Books. I previously indicated that I would list the remaining slaves that were noted in the Town records over the 23 years following the last entry that referenced Slaveholder Treadwell in 1798. While records reveal only a few slave owners in Plattsburgh, slavery affected a significant number of Blacks.

As related in my last blog, “An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery” freed all children born to slave women after July 4, 1799 when males reached 28 years and females at 25. Those enslaved before that date remained enslaved as “indentured  servants” for life. The following entries laid claim to the children of slaves. (Misspelling and inconsistent capitalization was common in the record).

June 12, 1800 – “This is to Certify that I William Bailey of the Town of Plattsburgh Esquire am Entitled to the Services of a Male Negro Child Named Frances born on the thirty first day of January One Thousand Eight hundred.”

August 9, 1800 – “This is to Certify that I Benjamin Moores of the town of Plattsburgh am Entitled to the Services of a male Negro Child name siak born on the Ninth day of August 1800.”

May 10, 1801 – “This may Certify that Benjamiin Mooers is Intitled to the cervice of a female negro Child name Cate born October 24, 1801 agreeable to Law.”

December 14, 1801 – “This may certify that Thomas Miller is Intitled to the Service of a female Negro Child name Jude born the 25 day of July 1801 agreeable to Law.”

January 15, 1802 – “This may Certify that I John Bailey am Intitled to the Services of a femal Malatter Child named Sarah born the 31st day of May 1801 as Witness my hand at Plattsburgh”

May 15, 1801 – “This May Certify that I John Miller am intitled to the service of a male Chld Malato Named Robert Born the 16th of October 1800 the above Child a mother Name is ann as witness my hand at Plattsburgh”

April 22, 1803 – “This May Certify that John Bailey am intitled to the Service of a Male Child by the name of Franck Born the ninth Day of March Last  Witness by hand at Platsburgh”

May 10, 1805 – “This May Certify that Nathl Platt is Intitled to the  Servis of a female Child Born of a Slave the Childs name is Dine Born 29th of January”

April 23, 1803 – “This may certify that Thomas Miller am Intitled to the Service of a Male Child name Enos Born January the 18th 1803…”

Then releases from bondage began to appear, whether by changing sentiment, by finding slaveholding less profitable, or even perhaps the burden of maintaining older workers is not clear.

April 1, 1803 – “We Benjamin Mooers and Joshua Hilliard Overseers of the Poor of the Town of Plattsburgh in the County of Clinton Do Certify that Brist a negro man with Property of John Addoms of the town of Plattsburgh aforesesaid appears to be under the age of fifty years and of Sufficient Ability to provide for himself given under our hands this first day ….”

April 1, 1803 – “I do hereby certify that I have and by these presents Do Manumit and Discharge from all personal Service a certain Negro Man Named Brist and forever—hereafter Relinquish all Claim to him as my Slave….”                                                                                 John Addoms

November 20, 1804 – This may Certify that I, John Addoms have manumitted and sett free a Certain Negro man named Will who Belongs to me and I do hereby free him from all his personal Service to me forever and I do Recommend him to have been an honest and faithful Servant….

On the same date, the overseers of the poor, Peter Sailly and Thomas Miller certified that the named Will, a Negro Slave Belonging to John Addoms, “Appears to us to be under the age of fifty and of Sufficient abilities to provide for  himself.”

December 20, 1804 – The overseers of the poor certified that the negro Man—Josiah Hick belonging to Thomas Tredwell Esquire…”appeareth to be under fifty Years of age and of Sufficient ability to provide for himself.”

October 4, 1805 – ‘This may Certify that John Addams is Intitled to the Serice of a Negro Boy By the name of Will Born the Sixth Day of May 1805. His Mothers name is Margret”

November 26, 1805 – “I, Do, hereby Certify to whom it may Concern that ame my Black Servant Girl about 23 years of Age and in good Health has this Day by me her pardon given her. I Believe her to be faithful and honest. this to be a complete Exoneration from me after the poor Masters have Subscribed the underwritten Certificate.”                                                                        Benjamin Mooers

January 10, 1806 – The Overseers of the Poor Certified “that the above named Ame a black girl appears to be under the age of fifty and about the age above mentioned and of Sufficient Abilities to provide for herself“

May 10, 1806 – “I do hereby Certify to whom it may Concern that Gin my Servant Black Girl about thirty years of age and in good Health has this Day by me her pardon Given her I believe her to be faithful and honest—this to be a compleat Exhonoration from me after the poor Masters have Subscribed the under Written Certificate”                                                                        Rovert Platt

October 3, 1807 –  “This may Certify that I John Miller am Intitled to the Service of a Male Black Child named Sharp in Rememberance of his Father, and that said Child was Born of Violet My Negro woman on the ninth of September Last Past.”

January 8, 1808 – “I Jonas Platt acting Executor of the Estate of Zephaniah Platt Esquire deceased do hereby manumit and liberate Cato a negro Slave belonging to said Estate, aged about Twenty four Years in Pursuance of the Statute in such case made and provided.” but amended to read that Cato appeared to be under the age of forty-five Years.

October 29, 1808 – under the heading Negros & Bastards.  “Margaret the Slave of John Addoms had a Male Child Born on the 27th Day of October in the Year 1808. The Child’s name is Tom.”

May 4, 1808 – William Bailey manumitted “a Man of Colour named Peter my Slave” and made reference pursuant “of the Statute in Such Case” Peter appears to be under the age of fifty and robust.

May 4,1808 – Peter Sailly manumitted “a Woman of Colour Named Dean My Slave, her Son Francis, her Daughter Caty and her Son Abel, in Persuance of the Statute in such cases”

The Poor Masters certification notes that Dean appears to be under forty, healthy and robust.

May 8, 1816 – Isabel a female slave of William Bailey had a female child born on July 20, 1813. Isabel also had a female child named Zander, born November 19, 1815.

July 22, 1816 – “Maria a Negro Slave of Melancton Smith had a male child born about 28th December 1814 named Sir George Prevost”

Maria also had a female child born about June 15, 1816. No name was noted .

April 25, 1821 – Under the headline, “SAMPSON SOPERS CIRTIFICATE”, Daniel Baker certified that to his knowledge, Sampson Soper with his parents had been born free and never been enslaved at a Court of Common Pleas that found  Sampson Soper “a colloured man about five feet Sevn inches high rather light complexion aged  aboutforty two years & born in Manchester Vermont” was born free.

On the same date, the last slave referenced entry of record: Gilliead Sperry of the Town swore that he was acquainted with Martn Tankard a Black or Mulatto Person and knows the family in Vermont and has no dout to say he was born free and is about 22 years of age”  and was so found free by Judge Caleb Nichols.

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PART II: BLACKS, SLAVERY AND FREEDOM IN OLD PLATTSBURGH

by Jerry Bates

In my last blog, I raised the question: “What motivated Thomas Tredwell, first to own slaves and then to release them?”  (Older blogs are carried below) I’ll try to answer that question in this session

In a later edition, I’ll list the remaining slaves that were noted in the Town records over the 23 years following the last entry that referenced Treadwell.

As for Treadwell’s and other’s motivation, digging some facts out of other resources can help us make a reasonable speculation. Treadwell was one of the original company with Zephaniah Platt that established the Town of Plattsburgh in April, 1785. Of the 33,000 acres of land claimed by Platt and granted by New York State, Treadwell received 900 acres. That is a lot of land to manage without help.

Treadwell and others in the company were from the Hudson River Valley prior to settling in Plattsburgh and their attitudes were likely reflective of that Valley’s culture.

The Hudson Valley was organized as New Netherlands by the Dutch West India Company (DWI) in 1621. The DWI sent 18 settlers to build a key fur trading settlement at Fort Orange (now Albany). The colony’s very existence and one basis for international recognition of the Dutch control in the new world were dependent on population growth. Population was also needed to defend its  place in the face of competitive English trade settlements in Connecticut and lingering Native American interests at the very gates of Fort Orange.

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Dutch map of Fort Orange in 1629

At great expense, the DWI went spent several years trying to recruit Dutch settlers to develop the agricultural fields necessary to sustain the colony. It didn’t work. While European immigrants were industrious, they often found it more profitable to turn to fur trading and other ventures. They could make small fortunes and return to Europe to live a more comfortable and familiar life style.

So the DWI, which through a complicated history, also controlled Caribbean sugar, salt and slave trade, resorted to bringing in slaves to solve their agricultural need. That practice made farming more attractive and profitable for European settlers. By 1640, slavery was effectively established in the Hudson Valley colony.

Lands were gradually accumulated into huge patroon estates. That discouraged European immigration further and increased dependence on slaves.Free blacks in New Netherland were trusted to serve in the militias, and slaves were given arms to help defend the settlement during the Indian war of 1641-44. They even helped to put down the Rensselaerswyck revolt of white tenants. Blacks shared coequal standing with whites in the courts, and free blacks were allowed to own property. They were free to marry whites, sometimes owned white indentured servants, and after a time gain a “half-freedom”.

But in 1664, the British drove the Dutch out. The land was titled to the Duke of York who had a major interest in the Royal African Company, also involved in slave trade. He actively promoted the marketing of slavery in New York which became the largest slave state north of Maryland. The condition of slaves deteriorated as the slave population grew especially in NYC. After some racial incidents, white fear of rebellion ballooned. Racism became entrenched and British official acts brutally suppressive. The use of slaves drove white porters and coopers out of work while slave traders and those port agents, lawyers, clerks, scriveners, dock workers, and others related to slave trade saw handsome profits.

The approach of American independence revealed that most revolutionary leaders in New York expressed anti-slavery sentiments, but the anxiety of war and a need for solidarity among the colonies facing Britain overshadowed the urgency to end slavery. During the war, many slaves fled to the English side which offered them freedom. The NY legislature finally voted in 1781 to manumit slaves serving in the armed forces.

In the year when Plattsburgh was formed, 1785, Aaron Burr led a push for immediate freeing of slaves in NY, but others who sought a gradual approach won the day. The latter feared the power of the black vote even though blacks made up just 8% of the population.

So I think that experience and attitude was carried north to Plattsburgh. Slavery, while debatable, was still widely accepted where a good excuse for needed free labor existed. Plattsburgh settlers needing to clear, plant, and harvest hundreds of acres of land, found the excuse.

By 1788, slave trade and special slave courts were banned in New York State, but ownership of existing slaves continued. But Quakers were now relentlessly pressuring for freeing slaves. A growing white population willing to work and who did not need to be maintained during periods of recession made ownership of slaves less attractive. “An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery” passed freeing all children born to slave women after July 4, 1799 when males reached 28 years and females at 25. Those enslaved before that date remained enslaved as “indentured servants” for life. Slavery did not officially end until 1827 though vestiges continued – which is another story.

So Mr. Treadwell and others motivation to manumit slaves was probably in synch with these social, economic and political changes and pushed along by Quaker sentiment centered in Peru. It was clearly not a smooth, peaceful transition in Plattsburgh, but that is another story.

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BLACKS, SLAVEY AND FREEDOM IN OLD PLATTSBURGH

by Jerry Bates

References to slave, slave owners and manumission are found through entries in the Town Minutes Record. They don’t reveal much detail about blacks in early Plattsburgh, but they do provide some clues that can likely be expanded upon by other historical resources.  These entries, complete with misspellings and other errors, are reproduced here from longhand as they appeared in the record.

August 9, 1794 – “To whom it may concern, we the subscribers being the overseers of the poor of the Town of Plattsburg  the County of Clinton and two of the Justices of Peace of the said county do hereby certify that the Niger (sic) man Slave  “Hick” & “Jane” his wife belonging to Thomas Tredwell Esq. now dwelling in Plattsburgh aforesaid, both appears to us to be under fifty years of age, and of Sufficient ability to provide for themselves, given under our hands this Ninth day of August in the year of our Lord One Thousand seven hundred and Ninety Four.

Benjamin Mooers      ) Overseer  of

Peter Roberts              )  the Poor

A similar paragraph follows naming “York”, belonging to Thomas Tredwell Esquire.“ who appeared under fifty years of age with sufficient ability to provide for  himself.”

The next paragraph of record is a rambling and repetitive legal statement by Thomas Tredwell that essentially states:

“in consideration of the past services of my Niger (sic) man “York” and for divers other good causes and considerations me (sic) hereunto moving Have manumitted, made free and set at Liberty and by these presents do fully freely and absolutely manumit , make free and set at liberty my said Negro man “York”….

September 27, 1794 – “Be it known to all whom it may concern That for the consideration of Seventeen pounds I Thomas Tredwell of Plattsburgh, Esquire have sold and conveyed my negro girl “Cynthia” to “Hick” her father…”

April 26, 1798 –  “The Negro man Scipio belonging to Thomas Treadwell is under fifty years of age and capable of supporting himself in witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands this twenty-sixth day of April one thousand seven hundred and ninety eight.

John Addoms  )           Overseers of

Wm. Pitt Platt  )           Overseers the Poor

Chas. Platt       )             Justices of

Eleazer Miller  )           the Peace”

A similar paragraph of the same date followed naming “two negro girls Rachel and Tamer belonging to Thomas Treadwell are each of them under fifty years of age and capable in our opinion of supporting themselves.”          Overseers of the Poor

Typical later entries of manumitting or freeing a slave were either preceded or followed by another sworn statement stating a former slave’s capability to support him or herself. Such a declaration not being present in Scipio’s case makes me wonder whether there might be a purpose in making a slave’s capability for self-support a part of the official record.

All the first entries in the record refer to Tredwell, but other prominent Plattsburgh names followed with too many to list in this blog. So, this is a good place to pause and reflect on the question, “What motivated Tredwell, first to own slaves and then to release them?” comes to mind. Some facts can help us make a reasonable argument as to motivation.

Treadwell was one of the original company with Zephaniah Platt that established the Town of Plattsburgh in April, 1785. In the apportionment of the 33,000 acres of land under the Platt claim granted by New York State, Treadwell received 900 acres. That is a lot of land to manage without help.

Treadwell and others in the company were from the Hudson River Valley. The culture of that Valley has a lot to deal with Mr. Tredwell and slavery in America.

Henry Hudson made his “discovery” voyage up the river from NYC to what is now Albany. As Henry was sponsored by the Dutch West Indies Company, he first established Fort Nassau, a trading post. It was located on a small island at what is now called Albany in 1614, two hundred seventy years before Platt established Plattsburgh. Regular flooding of the island caused the post to relocate on the site of today’s Albany as Fort Orange in 1624. This became the first permanent settlement in present New York State.

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Map of Castle Island and Fort Orange in 1629

That settlement and its development hold the clues to Treadwell and slavery.

We’ll explore those issues and the many other entries from the Town books that followed Treadwell’s over the next twenty three years dealing with slavery in coming blog issues.

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