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Glossary

This list includes words highlighted in the website when the Glossary is activated. Links go back to the features where the terms are used.

Abolish

Also abolitionist, abolishment

To end or completely do away with something, specifically on a large-scale, systematic level; in the 18th and 19th centuries, used specifically in relation to the movement dedicated to ending slavery.

See also emancipation, manumission.

Anglicized

to adapt a foreign name, word, or phrase to English usage.

Bequeath

Leave (something) to another person in one’s will.

Codify

Arrange according to a plan or system, particularly relating to the law.

Commodities

Goods or products used in commerce and trade.

Confederacy

An alliance or agreement between people, parties, or states for a common purpose.

Cooper

Someone who makes barrels.

Creole

A person of mixed European and African descent born in the Caribbean or Americas; first used in the 17th and 18th centuries and remained in common usage through the mid-20th century.

Decimate

To reduce or destroy by great number.

DO

Contraction for the word ditto, meaning the same as noted above.

Emancipate

Also emancipation

To set free, especially from legal, social, or political restrictions.

See also abolish/abolition, manumit/manumission, and self-emancipate.

Free Black

A historic term for the legal status given to people of African descent who were not enslaved.

Manumit

Also manumission, manumittance

Release from slavery; usually used to describe a personal act of freeing an enslaved person, as opposed to the systematic elimination of slavery by a state or nation.

See also abolish/abolition and emancipate/emancipation.

Mullato

A person of mixed white and black ancestry (commonly used in 18th- and 19th-century descriptions of enslaved individuals but considered offensive today).

Naturalized

To obtain the rights of citizenship (as opposed to someone who is born with citizenship).

Patroon

The owner of an estate; a term used especially in 18th-century New York for estates originally granted under Dutch rule.

Pentecost

A Christian festival, held on the seventh Sunday after Easter.

Probate inventory

A list of items in someone’s estate.

Provisioning plantation

A farm or estate that produced goods (food or raw materials) to be shipped elsewhere (instead of being used onsite).

Provision(s)

(1) A clause in a legal document relating to a specific matter or subject.

(2) Food, clothing, and other necessities.

Quarantine

To be kept away from others, usually as a result of exposure to a disease.

Reparations

A form of making amends, often involving payment, for a previous wrong or injustice.

Scarification

The process of making designs in the skin, usually through cutting, scratching, or branding, and often associated with cultural rites of passage.

Self-emancipate

To free oneself from bondage (used in contrast to the term “run away,” in order to show more agency on the part of an enslaved person who chose to escape enslavement).

Tanning

The process of turning a raw animal hide into leather.

Vendue

A public auction.

VIZ

(Also viz’t) Abbreviation of the Latin videlicet, meaning namely, or, in other words (used in 18th-century English documents to introduce a list or explanation).

Vocational

Relating to work or a job.
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