MANUMISSION OF MANUEL DE GERRIT AND NINE OTHER NEGROES FROM SLAVERY, 25 FEBRUARY 1644

Translation from Van Laer, Council Minutes, Volume IV, 1638–1649, doc. 183, pgs. 212–213


The 25th of February

We, Willem Kieft, director general, and the council of New Netherland, having considered the petition of the Negroes named Paulo Angolo, Big Manuel, Little Manuel, Manuel de Gerrit de Reus, Simon Congo, Antony Portuguese, Gracia, Piter Santomee, Jan Francisco, Little Antony and Jan Fort Orange, who have served the Company for 18 or 19 years, that they may be released from their servitude and be made free, especially as they have been many years in the service of the honorable Company here and long since have been promised their freedom; also, that they are burdened with many children, so that it will be impossible for them to support their wives and children as they have been accustomed to In the past If they must continue in the honorable Company's service; Therefore, we, the director and council, do release the aforesaid Negroes and their wives from their bondage for the term of their natural lives, hereby setting them free and at liberty on the same footing as other free people here in New Netherland, where they shall be permitted to earn their livelihood by agriculture on the land shown and granted to them, on condition that they, the above mentioned Negroes, in return for their granted freedom, shall, each man for himself, be bound to pay annually, as long as he lives, to the West India Company or their agent here, 30 schepels of maize, or wheat, pease, or beans, and one fat hog valued at 20 guilders, which 30 schepels and hog they, the Negroes, each for himself, promise to pay annually, beginning from the date hereof, on pain, if any one shall fail to pay the annual recognition, of forfeiting his freedom and again going back into the servitude of the said Company. With the express condition that their children, at present born or yet to be born, shall remain bound and obligated to serve the honorable West India Company as slaves. Likewise, that the above mentioned men shall be bound to serve the honorable West India Company here on land or water, wherever their services are required, on condition of receiving fair wages from the Company. Thus done, the 25th of February 1644, in Fort Amsterdam in New Netherland.

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For a quarter century NNI has helped cast light on America's Dutch roots. In 2010, it partnered with the New York State Office of Cultural Education to establish the New Netherland Research Center, with matching funds from the State of the Netherlands. NNI is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. More

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