Slavery was “baked into” New Jersey from its very beginnings. In the 1664-65 Concession and Agreement of the Lords Proprietors of the Province of New Caesarea, or New Jersey, Lord John Berkeley and Sir George Carteret granted prospective colonists 75 acres of land “for every weaker servant, or slave, male or female, exceeding the age of fourteen years, which any one shall send or carry, arriving there.” Meant to jump start a new agricultural community, this provision of one of New Jersey’s founding documents nonetheless made chattel slavery foundational.
Rick Geffken discusses stories found in his book, Stories of Slavery in New Jersey, beginning with the Dutch settlements of Bergen and Communipaw, located in today’s Jersey City.
“Geffken synthesizes a broad range of historical resources to reconstruct the processes of enslavement in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries in a variety of small communities in New Jersey. His analysis emerges from a decade of digital resources that were not easily available before the expansion of online collections. … The results? A detailed examination of slavery as it evolved in places that show that tobacco, cotton, and sugar were not the only systems that dehumanized African-Americans.” (From the Introduction by Dr. Walter A. Greason)