Deed of Manumission for a New York City slave, signed by Mayor Dewitt Clinton. James Sands Susannah Drake, Dewitt Clinton, P. C. Van Wyck.

Deed of Manumission for a New York City slave, signed by Mayor Dewitt Clinton

New York City: 1809. Unbound. This deed of manumission measures 8” x 9.75”. Slightly toned. Short (.25”) tear on right edge. In nice shape. The document reads:

"By Dewitt Clinton Mayor of the City of New York and Pierre C Van Wyck Recorder of the said city. / It is hereby certified that pursuant to the Statute entitled An Act Concerning Slaves and Servants we have this day examined a certain Negro named Joseph Sands the property of Susannah Drake which said slave is about to be manumitted and he appeering to us to be under fifty years of age viz about Twenty five and of sufficient ability to provide for himself we do grant this Certificate. / Given under our hands the fifth day of January 1809 / Dewitt Clinton / P C Van Wyck / Registered in the Office of Clerk of the City and County of New York in Lib. No 7 of Manumissions Page 110. This fifth day of January 1809. – T. Wootman / C Clerk".

The Act Concerning Slaves and Services of 1801, reiterated, clarified, and revised similar acts that were passed in 1694, 1788, and 1790. With regard to manumission, it stated that:

"Slaves under 50 years of age and able to support and maintain themselves, and so certified by the proper officers, might be manumitted by will or otherwise, without security being given for their support in case they should become unable to support themselves. The master was thus freed from all further liability on their account." (Paraphrased by Oscar R. Williams in Blacks and Colonial Legislation in the Middle Colonies.).

Very good. Item #009561

The 1800 Census identifies Susannah Drohe (sic), the head of a New York City household with one teenage boy and three young younger daughters, as owning one male slave, no doubt James Sands who was freed by this document. Susannah died in December of 1820.

Dewitt Clinton was an ardent abolitionist who served three terms as the mayor of New York City and was a major candidate for President of the United States in 1812. Although he lost the election to James Madison, he carried most of the Northeast. He later served as Governor of New York State from 1817 to 1822 and from 1825 to 1828, famously overseeing the construction of the Erie Canal.

Manumission documents signed by Clinton are rather scarce. At the time of listing, OCLC show only one in an institutional collection at the New York State Library, and Rare Book Hub show only one other having been sold in an auction by the American Art Association in 1921.

Price: $850.00