In this remarkable book, Graham Hodges presents a comprehensive
history of African Americans in New York City and its rural
environs from the arrival of the first African--a sailor marooned
on Manhattan Island in 1613--to the bloody Draft Riots of 1863.
Throughout, he explores the intertwined themes of freedom and
servitude, city and countryside, and work, religion, and resistance
that shaped black life in the region through two and a half
Hodges chronicles the lives of the first free black settlers in the
Dutch-ruled city, the gradual slide into enslavement after the
British takeover, the fierce era of slavery, and the painfully slow
process of emancipation. He pays particular attention to the black
religious experience in all its complexity and to the vibrant slave
culture that was shaped on the streets and in the taverns.
Together, Hodges shows, these two potent forces helped fuel the
long and arduous pilgrimage to liberty.