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Caesar’s Story

Part 2

Caesar’s Skills

Scholars discuss the extensive specialized knowledge of skilled enslaved laborers in the colonial North while actors Keith E. Johnston and Zion Johnson depict Caesar, the miller at Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, NY, and his apprentice, Flip.

Congolese natives forging iron spearheads


Giovanni Antonio Cavazzi (Italian, 1621–1678)

Congolese craftspeople demonstrated advanced metal-working skills in the 17th century, including smelting copper and forging iron.

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA.

Shipbuilding in Guinea


Olfert Dapper (Dutch, 1636–1689)

Travel and transport along the Niger and Geba Rivers meant a tradition of boatbuilding flourished in the region now known as Guinea and Guinea-Bissau.

GRANGER / GRANGER — All rights reserved.

Colonial soapmaker.

late 18th c.


A master tradesman, like the soapmaker in this image, could purchase labor by enslaving or indenturing individuals rather than paying wages.

Sarin Images/GRANGER — All rights reserved.

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