I hope that everyone had a fun Fourth of July holiday!
As promised in my last blog entry, there is more to share about the story of the Schuyler family which was a significant part of Albany’s past and the formation of the United States of America. Last time, we explored the connection between Alexander Hamilton (who is quite a popular historical figure these days!) and the Schuyler family through the marriage of Mr. Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler. Well, the Schuyler family was recently featured in the local news due to a discovery made at what had once been Schuyler Flatts—a large area of land owned by the Schuylers and used for farming located just off of Broadway in Menands.
In 2005, while building a sewer line, workers uncovered human bones. An archaeological firm became involved to determine who the remains may have belonged to. The conclusion was that the remains were those of about fourteen slaves of the Schuyler family. Slavery did exist in northern states such as New York and among many of this country’s Founding Fathers (such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson) and well-to-do citizens in the 18th and early 19th centuries, especially for those who were involved in agriculture and depended on workers.
With the Declaration of Independence (primarily written by Thomas Jefferson) stating that “all Men are created equal,” the ownership of slaves is one of our history’s greatest contradictions and a complicated part of our past. With the abolition of slavery in the United States and our current awareness that all people regardless of race are indeed equal, the remains of the fourteen Schuyler slaves, which were kept for over ten years at the New York State Museum for analysis, have finally been given a dignified and respectful burial. On June 18, 2016, the remains, which had been placed in individual wooden containers designed by various people through a contest, were buried with a ceremony at St. Agnes Cemetery in Menands. Learn more about this entire fascinating story told through text and videos.
We will keep our eyes on the local area in my next blog, but this time, we are going to bring Harry Potter into the story!!!
Talk to you soon.