02 July 2008

Celebrate 2 July

On this date in 1777, Vermont became the first territory in the U.S. to abolish slavery. Huzzah for the Green Mountain Boys!

3 comments:

Lucky Bob said...

Now that is an excellent thing to bring up. I hadn't realized they had done so so soon. It really is remarkable. I might not should do this, but I'm always curious. Was it legal for free blacks to move into the state at that time as well?

Smitty said...

Good question. I had to look it up. In fact the abolition of slavery was debated during the period of Vermont's independence (such as it was; it was never recognized by New York). The constitution for the republic of Vermont wasn't actually passed until 8 July, although the provision abolishing slavery was already a part of the draft constitution first tabled on 2 July. The first article of that constitution says no one may be held in bondage, but there's no provision regarding who may or may not move in. Since free blacks aren't prevented from moving to Vermont I would have to assume it was okay for them to do so--although there were very few free blacks in the United States at the time. The 1800 census didn't ask about race, or at least the info I've found from it doesn't have data about race, but given that even today less than .5% of the population of Vermont is black, I don't think many free blacks moved there.

Lucky Bob said...

Then definitely praise to Vermont. I am often amazed at the hypocrisy that occurred over this. Freeing the slaves in the seceding states, but not necessarily the others. Outlawing slave ownership in a state to essentially force the owners to move the slaves to another state, but not free them. And I know some states didn't allow immigration of free blacks for some time even thought they had abolished slavery themselves. It was a strange kind of "Not In My Back Yard."