Chapter

The Failures of the City

in In the Shadow of Slavery

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print February 2003 | ISBN: 9780226317748
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226317755 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226317755.003.0010
The Failures of the City

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Over two and a half centuries New York's African and African American inhabitants forged new lives in a city that was seldom entirely hospitable but which offered the prospect of survival and collective existence. From the earliest days of Dutch colonialism to the extraordinary violence of the Civil War Draft Riots, black New Yorkers fought for the right to live, work, and gather together. They struggled for their own safety and freedom even as they attempted to define the very meaning of African American and American identity. The history of these years followed no pre-ordained pattern. Rather, black and white New Yorkers' participation in these events speaks to a never-ending process of change and conflict, of contestation for power and influence over the resources and life of the city. Black men, women, and children comprised an integral part of New York City's economic, political, social, and cultural life.

Keywords: African American inhabitants; New York City; social life; collective existence; colonialism; American identity

Chapter.  10118 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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