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Erasing History

For more than a hundred years after the passing of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the facts of Northern enslavement were systematically left out of textbooks, museums, and historic site interpretations. Listen to scholars and teachers discuss how this suppression of the truth changed the national narrative.

Bill of sale



This document shows John Brown paid Philip Van Cortlandt for livestock and other property, including an unnamed enslaved boy.

Historic Hudson Valley.

Scene on a Cotton Plantation, Gathering Cotton

19th c.


Enslaved men and women picked cotton on plantations in the South. Although there were no cotton plantations in the North, the men and women enslaved in the North labored on provisioning plantations to raise crops like rye and performed many other specialized tasks.

Sarin Images/GRANGER — All rights reserved.

General Ulysses S. Grant


Daniel Chester French (American, 1850–1931)

Association for Public Art.

A plan of the city of New York from an actual survey... (detail)


Francis Maerschalck, surveyor (American?, active 1752–1755)

This detailed map of Manhattan shows the burial ground outside the palisades that marked the northern border of the settlement at the time, the site now known at the African Burial Ground National Monument.

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